Many people think the camel does store water in its hump, but it does not. Instead, the camel stores something else there, food. The camel’s hump is really a hump of fat. When the camel, often called a “ship of the desert,” is not traveling and is in a place where there is plenty of food and water, it eats and drinks great quantities. As it does so, its hump rises from the fat its body produces. Then, when the camel is traveling across the desert and food is scarce, it can live off this stored fat.
A camel can go for days or weeks with little food or water. However, when its hunger reaches the point of starvation, its hump shrinks and may even slip off its back and hang down on its side. Camels are not fussy about what they eat. Thorny plants don’t hurt their mouths; grasses of any kind will do and so will hay, dry grains, cactuses, or dates from trees.
There are one-humped camels and two-humped camels. Camels with one hump are called Arabian camels, or Dromedaries, and come from North Africa. Camels with two humps are from Asia, and are called Bactrian camels.
If food is scarce, a camel will even eat its own bridle or its owner’s tent!