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Adaptions to Desert Life
Camels are well adapted to their life in the desert areas that make up a large part of the UAE.
· Their stomach has three compartments and regurgitate and re-chew their food, although they are not really considered as ruminants like cows. This process means that they are very good at extracting protein and energy from the poor quality food that they would find in the desert.
- The hump is not a store of water but fat and can be drawn on when food is unavailable. They can cope with high levels of dehydration, levels that would be lethal in other animals. It manages to survive these high levels of dehydration because it maintains the blood volume needed for circulation at the expense of tissue fluid. When they then have access to water, they can take on large volumes very quickly, but they only absorb it slowly into their systems so that any osmotic problems are avoided.
· Water loss is reduced as they can concentrate their urine until it becomes thick and syrupy and twice as salty as sea water. Water is also removed from their faeces before these are voided and they are so dry that the faeces can be used as fuel immediately. They sweat less as they do not have to sweat to maintain a constant body temperature. They can cope with large changes in body temperature - from 97.7 to 107 degrees C.
· To cope with the dry, sandy and dusty environment they have a double row of long eyelashes that helps to keep the sand and dust out of their eyes. To shield their eyes from the fierce sun they have very thick eyebrows. Their feet are very broad and when standing the foot's large leathery pads spread out and help to stop the foot sinking into the soft sand. Their ears are lined with hair that traps sand and dust and stops it entering the ear canal. The nose is designed to cool the incoming air and condense moisture from breathe as it breathes out. A camel's mouth is tough with 34 sharp teeth and it can eat thorny shrubs without damage.
All these adaptations leave camels well suited to their life in the harsh environment of the Arabian desert