Reading the body language of camels can be a bit of a challenge as camels can seem bit aloof in their nature.
Camel’s don’t show obvious signs of dislike as a horse would. For instance camels don’t put their ears back before defending themselves.
For a person who is new to camels, not being able to read a camel’s body language can be intimidating, but the good news is, that any individual can learn to read a camel’s body language and that’s what we will be sharing with you today.
Let’s go through the 6 most common body language movements in a camel, we’ll be talking about ….
And… Their noises
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First lets look at at the camel’s eyes.
A camel’s eyes can be one of the easiest body language signs to translate into whether a camel is feeling relaxed or feeling threaten.
Even though a camel’s size can seem intimidating, camel’s are actually every timid creatures by nature. They have a great awareness and ability to feel fear, AND looking at the camel’s eyes (in a non threading way) is one of the trusted signs on whether a camel is feeling relaxed or not.
When the camel’s eyes are bulging, seeming more wide than usual, then it’s likely they are feeling fear and threatened in this case they might be quick to defend themselves.
A camels EARS….
There is not much movement when it comes to a camels ears. They generally don’t use their ears as a ‘warning’ (like horses do), but we have noticed that there is a simple way to allow the camel to trust you through touching behind one ear….. As you do this the ear might wiggle, indicating that they are becoming relaxed with you in other words becoming desensitised to your presence.
We do this with all of our camels, not matter how experienced they are with humans. This simple technique has never failed us on helping the camel feel more comfortable being around us or anyone new to their experience.
A camels MOUTH, internally is a very complex thing.
Camels are able to eat prickly plants ,you’d never consider to touch, yet THEY will happily munch away with a look of contentment on their faces!
But when it comes to their mouth and the signs it can show when being with camels there’s a couple of things to keep in mind.
All camels can and will bite if they feel they are being threaten, or… have not been taught proper boundaries.
Most camels will not use their mouth (biting) as a first line of defence, there are always other signs before biting takes place. It’s the human handlers job to read the body language of the camel, so if a camel bites you, it’s on you.
Another important role the mouth plays in body language is that the camel’s nose can tell you how the camel is feeling.
In nervous camels you’ll see the camel tighten his nose so it becomes pointy and it protrudes from its normal look.
This can also happen if a camel is feeling a bit frisky and a good indicator to get out of the way of the running camel.
This can also be a sign that a camel is not feeling well.
One of the second most easiest signs to read whether a camel is relaxed or not is the chewing of their cud.
Many people get confused on why a camel chews all the time.
Camels are ruminates, meaning they chew and swallow food once, and regurgitate to chew again.
Cud chewing is one of the most obvious signs that a camel is feeling relaxed, but some camels will chew their cud even when they are nervous. Often the ‘nervous chewing’ is a lot faster than the normal graceful chewing, so it’s easy to tell the difference.
Obviously it’s known world wide that camel’s can spit. But…Technically they are no spitting as it’s not saliva coming out of their mouths.
Instead they are literally throwing up their food (aka their cud) from involuntary muscle contraction in their stomach from their feeling of nervousness or fear.
In all our experience with camels, they won’t ‘cud’ on you unless you’ve failed to read all the warning signs before hand.
Now what about the whole BODY of camels?
Some camels can tend to be ‘pushy’ and push on their handlers or owners. What does this mean in camel language?
It could mean serval things depending on the camels history, but lets look at the basic.
In a herd setting, camels will push on each other to show their assertion to other members in their herd. It’s totally fine for a camel to push on another camel, given that they are in fact – camels- and their body weight mass is much more than a human. But, a camel pushing on a human is a big risk of the camel unintentionally hurting you.
If a camel is pushing on you, it’s commonly a sign that you need to set clear boundaries. Taking your camel through a gentle and trusting training process like our, Camel Connection Trust Based camel Training, would serve you them very well in the future.
Did you know that camels wag their tails when they are happy and content?
Yes this is a real thing, but just because a camel is wagging it’s tail it doesn’t mean that they are content. Obviously camel’s use their tails to keep bugs off and some camels (especially bull camels) ‘flick’ their tail. This tail flick can also been seen in camel’s that are annoyed and in camels presenting their dominance amongst many other things.
Lastly, let talk about camel NOISES
Camel noises are similar to human speech, in the way that everyone speaks in different pitches and tones depending on their personally.
The reasons a camel will make growling sounds could be them….
Calling out to other herd members (animals they are normally housed with).
A camel not liking being handled, but it’s too afraid to lash out so they use their voice instead.
A camel that is worried or in fear.
A camel calling our to their owner or handler (especially at feed time).
Camel noises vary with the different personalities of camels. One camel growl could mean something entirely different to another camel. The importance here is that you continue to learn more about your camel and it’s personality.
Camels are as unique in their personalities as humans, but an important thing to remember is that they love constancy and routines so having a rock solid training and handling foundation practice that is build upon trust, rather than fear and friendship rather than dominance, is paramount to the success you’ll have with any camel you’ll come into contact with.
Want to go deeper and learn more about how a camel thinks and how to use that to your advantage in camel training & handling?
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