Camels were domesticated thousands of years ago for trade in the Middle East; to this day, people still rely on them for transport across arid lands. They are native to dry deserts in western, central and East Asia. Camels are well known for enduring long periods without food or water, carrying an extra 200 pounds or so easily, and walking many miles in the vast, harsh desert. The two chief types of camels are one-humped or dromedary—most domesticated camels are dromedary, and their milk is healthier than that from cows–and the two-humped, shorter-legged Bactrian camel, which still lives in the wild in the Gobi desert. In the wild, camels are flexible with their food as it may be hard to come by, but regular diets include plants, dried leaves, seeds, bones, and fish meat. Domesticated camels are usually fed grass, wheat, dates, and oats.
Camel calves can actually walk within hours of birth, but do not reach maturity until five years of age. A working camel often retires at age 25, and the normal life span is around 40 years. A fully grown adult camel stands about 6 feet at the shoulder and 7 feet at the hump, can weigh up to about 1540 pounds, and can carry as much as 990 pounds, although a comfortable cargo weight is usually around 330 pounds. Camels come in every shade of brown, from creamy hues to nearly black. Contrary to common reputations of their alleged stubbornness, camels are rather good-tempered, patient, and intelligent.