From Agepedia

Jump to: navigation , search

CAMEL (camelus, L.) ; a genus of mammiferous quadrupeds, of the ruminant order, characterized by their size; the possession of incisive, canine and molar teeth; the upper lip divided; the neck long and arched; by the absence of horns, and by having one or two humps or protuberances upon the back, and naked callosities at the joints of the leg, the inferior part of the breast, &c. The inferior extremities terminate in two toes, which are not wholly covered by hoof, as they have only a small one at the extremity, and a sort of very hard, callous sole, common to both. There are six incisive and two canine teeth in the lower jaw; and, in the upper, there are two incisors in the intermaxillary bone, with one or two canine teeth on each side, which increase to a considerable size with the increasing age of the animal. The camel is the only ruminant animal which has cutting teeth in the upper jaw.The native country of this genus is said to extend from Mauritania to China, within a zone of 900 or 1000 miles in breadth. The common CAMEL, having two humps, is only found in the northern part of this region, and exclusively from the ancient Bactria, now Turkestan, to China. The dromedary, or singlehump CAMEL, is found throughout the entire length of this zone, on its southern side, as far as Africa and India. Notwithstanding this, the dromedary cannot sustain either the burning heat of the torrid, or the mild climate of the temperate zone, while the camel supports all the vicissitudes of climate with but little injury. It is highly probable that the camel has long ceased to exist in its wild or natural state, as it has been enslaved by man from the earliest times of which we have record. Among the stock composing the wealth of the patriarch Job, we find 600 camels enumerated. Unlike the elephant, and other animals which cease to breed in a state of captivity, the camel is as prolific as if at liberty; and vast numbers are raised and employed throughout the Oriental countries, especially in the commerce carried on between the people residing in the vicinity of the great deserts. To these people the camel serves in the place of ships, and other modes of conveyance, being especially adapted by nature for the service in which it is employed. In regions where water is exceedingly scarce, and wells or springs are several days' journey distant from each other, it would be impossible to traverse the country with the usual beasts of burthen. But <,he camel can abstain from drinking for seven or eight days together without injuryan important advantage, which is owing to the possession of a fifth pouch, or appendix to the stomach, destined to receive water, whenever it can be procured, and capable of retaining it unchanged for a long time. From this receptacle a portion of water can be thrown into the other stomachs or gullet when necessary, and thus avert the evils of thirst. Possessing strength and activity surpassing that of most beasts of burthen, docile, patient of hunger and thirst, and contented with small quantities of the coarsest provender, the camel is one of the most valuable gifts of Providence. There is nothing, however, in the external appearance of the animal to indicate the existence of any of its excellent qualities. In form and proportions, it is very opposite to our usual ideas of perfection and beauty. A stout body, having the back disfigured with one or two humps; limbs long, slender, and seemingly too weak to support the trunk; a long, slim, crooked neck, surmounted by a heavilyproportioned head, are all illsuited to produce favorable impressions. Nevertheless, there is no creature more excellently adapted to its situation, nor is there one in which more of creative wisdom is displayed in the peculiarities of its organization. To the Arabs, and other wanderers of the desert, the camel is at once wealth, subsistence and protection. Their strength and fleetness render their masters the terror of enemies, and secure them from pursuita few hours being sufficient to place leagues of trackless desert between them and their foes. The milk of the females furnishes the Aral) with a large part of his nutriment. The flesh of the young animal is one of his greatest luxuries: of the skins, he forms tents: the various sorts of hair, or wool, shed by the camel, are wrought into different fabrics; and its dried dung constitutes excellent fuel, the only kind, indeed, to be obtained throughout vast extents of country. In order to qualify camels for great exertions, and the endurance of fatigue, the Arabs begin to educate themat an early age. They are first taught to bear burdens, by having their limbs secured under the belly, and then a weight proportioned to their strength is put on: this is not changed for a heavier load till the animal is thought to have gained sufficient power to sustain it. Food and drink are not allowed at will, but given in small quantity, at long intervals. They are then gradually accustomed to long journeys, and an accelerated pace, until their qualities of fleetness and strength are fully brought into action. They are taught to kneel, for the purpose of receiving or removing their load. When too heavily laden, they refuse to rise; and, by loud cries, complain of the injustice. Small camels carry from 600 to 800 lbs.; the largest and strongest bear 1000 or 1200 lbs., from 30 to 35 miles a day. Those which are used for speed alone are capable of travelling from 60 to 90 miles a day. In* stead of employing blows or ill treatment to increase their speed, the cameldrivers sing cheerful songs, and thus urge the animals to their best efforts. When a caravan of camels arrives at a resting or baitingplace, they kneel, and, the cords sustaining the load being untied, the bales slip down on each side. They generally sleep on their bellies, crouching between the bales they have carried: the load is, therefore, replaced with great facility. In an abundant pasture, they generally browse as much in an hour as serves them for ruminating all night, and for their support during the next day. But it is uncommon to find such pasturage, and they are contented with the coarsest fare : nettles, thistles, wormwood, and various harsh vegetables are eaten by them with avidity, and are even preferred to more delicate plants.Camels, designed exclusively for labor, are usually gelded, and females are also treated in a similar manner. They are, it is true, not so strong, nor so spirited, as unmutilated animals, but are much more manageable. During their sexual season, the males become furious and ungovernable: they refuse food, are spiteful, biting and kicking even their keepers, to whom they are, at other times, very obedient. At this time, also, a foetid secretion is effused from a glandular apparatus on the neck; the animal foams at the mouth, and a red, membranous vesicle, similar to a bladder, is extended on each side of the mouth. One male is reserved perfect for every eight females. The female receives the male in the same crouching attitude, in which she places herself to receive a load, or for the pur pose of sleeping. She goes with young 12 months, and brings forth one at a birth. Her milk is very thick, abundant and rich, but of rather a strong taste. Mingled with water, it forms a very nutritive article of diet. Breeding and milkgiving camels are exempted from service, and fed as well as possible, the value of their milk being greater than that of their labor. The young camel usually sucks for 12 months; but such as are intended for speed *are allowed to suck, and exempted from restraint, for two or three years. The camel attains the full exercise of its functions within 4 or 5, and the duration of its life is from 40 to 50 years.The humps or bunches on the back of the camel are mere accumulations of cellular substance and fat, covered by skin, and a longer hair than that of the general surface, During long journeys, in which the animals suffer severely from want of food, and become greatly emaciated, these protuberances are gradually absorbed, and no trace of them left, except that the skin is loose and flabby where they were situated. In preparing for a journey, it is necessary to guard the humps from pressure or friction by appropriate saddles, as the slightest ulceration of these parts ;" followed by the worst consequences : insects deposit their larves in the sores, and sometimes extensive and destructive mortification ensues.The Bactrian or common camel is larger than the dromedary; the limbs are not so long in proportion to the body; the muzzle is larger and more tumid; the hair of a darker brown, and the usual gait slower. A still more striking distinction is afforded by the two humpsthe dromedary having but one. This single hump of the latter occupies the middle of the back, rising gradually on all sides towards its apex, and never inclining to one side. Both species are occasionally found in collections of animals. The dromedary is more frequently seen than the camel.During that season of the year when these gentle creatures become violent, the Turks take advantage of this change in their disposition to set on foot camelfightsdisgraceful exhibitions, indicative of the same spirit as the lionfights of Rome, the bullfights of Spain, the bull and badgerbaitings and cockfights of England. These fights are common at Smyrna and Aleppo. The camels of Smyrna are led out to a large plain, filled with eager crowds. The animals are muzzled, to prevent their doing each other serious injury, for their bite is tremendous, always bringing the piece out. A couple, being let loose, run at each other with extreme fury. Their mode of combat is curious: they knock their heads together laterally, twist their long necks, wrestle with their forelegs, almost like bipeds, and seem to be principally bent on throwing down their adversary.