Why Do Camels Eat Cactus

Yes, cactus thorns can be painful to a camel while it is eating one. Camels enjoy eating cacti and will put up with some discomfort in order to do so.

Additionally, papillae aid camels in chewing cactus in a way that prevents excessive pricking from the needles. Camels turn the cacti they consume so that the needles fall vertically rather than horizontally.

Even though camels carefully maneuver cacti in their mouths, it still hurts. Cactus thorns can occasionally pierce their mouth and become stuck.

People frequently need to remove them. It hurts a camel and will remain there for a long time if not taken off.

How do camels eat a cactus?

Camels have evolved to consume cacti and put up with their pain in exchange for sustenance. A firm palate and papillae lining on the roof of the mouth of camels aid in the chewing of cactus.

Keratin makes up a portion of the papillae (structural protein that makes nails). In some ways, this shields the camels’ mouths, yet they still experience discomfort. particularly towards the lips.

Camels can chew through sharp thorns and smash a cactus on their mouth palate thanks to their powerful jaw and teeth. However, they do not have a leathery mouth, and they experience discomfort when eating cacti.

However, their ability to grind and chew helps them avoid being pricked by thorns. Have you ever observed a camel smacking its lips side to side? In order to avoid the needles poking and hurting the inside of the mouth, the camel uses this chewing technique to drive the cactus vertically down the throat.

Additionally, camels are pseudo-ruminants, as are their relatives the alpaca, lama, and others. This indicates that they can digest roughage thanks to their digestive system. Camels can still digest roughage effectively despite the fact that ruminants have a more effective digestive system.

The video below shows a camel munching on a cactus with large thorns:

What do camels eat in the desert?

As herbivores, camels consume anything they can find in the desert. They consume grasses, twigs, bushes, herbs, leaves, and occasionally even tree sections.

Why do camels eat cacti in the desert?

Camels have evolved to consume anything they can find in order to survive in their harsh, dry surroundings. Spiny cactus are a part of this. Camel owners frequently burn off the spines of cacti so that their animals can consume them without discomfort.

Which animals eat cactus in the desert?

In the desert, there are many creatures that will consume a cactus. That’s because these animals must consume cacti to survive owing to drought and a general shortage of water. This is particularly true for animals without a unique method of storing water in their bodies.

Other animals avoid eating thorny cacti but will consume their fruits instead. They are somewhat sweeter and frequently lack spines.

Desert animals that consume cacti include:

  • Javenilas are pig-like creatures that can consume the entire cactus, including the spines.
  • Around the sides, where there are no spines, there are woodratseat cactus.
  • Cacti without spines are eaten by rabbits.
  • Gophers
  • Squirrels eat the fruits of cacti.
  • Toads of the desert
  • Land iguanas consume the fruits of cacti.
  • Cactus fruits are edible to mule deer.

How do camels drink water?

Camels are able to drink water normally and have been known to down over 50 gallons of water in a single sitting! Camel hump, however, cannot hold any water. Only fat is kept there. They may go for extended periods of time without drinking water because their blood contains water storage.

Camel’s fat acts as a heat insulator and keeps them cool in hot weather. They can utilize this fat to survive when there is a dearth of food and nutrition. When fat is consumed, it wastefully breaks down into carbon dioxide and water. The water can then be used by camels for their needs.

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Do camels eat the fruit of cacti?

Camels, sometimes known as “ships of the desert,” have bodies adapted for extreme weather, which allows them to survive in the desert. I recently wondered what desert camels consume out of curiosity. I am aware that cacti grow in the desert, but can camels consume cacti? I set out to investigate the likelihood of this occurring.

So, is cactus edible by camels? Cactus is edible to camels. They have Papillae, which are the lining of the mouth. When they are consuming cactus, the papillae help avoid any harm and facilitate food flow in one direction that goes directly to the stomach.

The fact that camels have a hard palate at the top of their mouths is startling. The camel’s palate protects its mouth as it eats its meal. The cactus needles slide down the camel’s throat with the aid of the papillae without harming it.

How are cacti eaten by animals without them getting hurt?

Numerous animals consume cacti, particularly the prickly pear kind. These animals have physiological and anatomical characteristics that allow them to feed without experiencing any negative effects.

  • Camels
  • Jackrabbit
  • Cattle dogs
  • shrews in the ground
  • Jaguars and Collared Peccaries
  • Rodents ( packrats, mice, gophers, chipmunks, kangaroo rat, woodrat)
  • Birds (Gila woodpecker, gilded flicker birds)
  • Bats
  • Iguana
  • Oriental Cotton Tail
  • Antelope squirrels from Harris’s
  • Coyotes

Let’s delve deeper and see how these animals manage to survive by consuming the spiky vegetation.


Camels have adapted to consuming desert vegetation like cactus since they naturally flourish in arid and semi-arid climates. They have distinctive physical characteristics that enable this.

  • They have a hard palate in the upper region of their mouth, and they use it to grind the cacti with their teeth.
  • Any discomfort brought on by swallowing the spikes is mitigated by their leathery, thick lips.
  • They are also helped by their rotating chew. It makes it simple to vertically slip the cactus needles into the throat.

What draw plants to camels?

Camels typically only have a few options; they will consume anything they can find in the wild, even dried leaves or bushes.

As herbivores, camels consume almost everything that needs to be photosynthesised in order to survive. Branches, bushes, trees, cacti, thorny plants, seeds, desert bushes, grains, straw, hay, and date stones, among other things, are more specific answers.

Do camels vomit their internal organs?

the desert’s ships. Since the domestication of camels more than 3,000 years ago, people have relied on them for transportation through dry conditions. They can easily travel 20 miles (32 kilometers) a day in the hard desert carrying an additional 200 pounds (90 kg). Camels can move as quickly as horses, but they can also go for protracted periods of time without eating or drinking. The wool, milk, meat, leather, and even the feces, which may be used as fuel, of camels have all been used by humans.

Only domesticated versions of the dromedary camel, also referred to as the Arabian camel, are still in existence. The majority of camels in the world are dromedaries. Bactrian camels come in two varieties: wild and farmed. Compared to domesticated Bactrian camels, wild Bactrian camels are considerably trimmer, have smaller humps, and have less hair.

One or two humpbacks? The Bactrian camel has two hump, while the Dromedary camel has one. What’s the simplest approach to keep the names in mind? Dromedary is represented by the capital letter D, which is positioned on its side and has just one hump. Then picture the capital B turned upside-down with two humps: B for Bactrian! However, what’s inside those humps? They don’t store water, only fat. The camel uses the fat as a source of energy.

The amount of time a camel can live off of this stored energy depends on the environment and its degree of activity. Depending on how much food the camel consumes, the size of the hump might alter. The camel’s body utilises the fat reserves in the hump when food is in short supply, which causes the hump to sag and droop.

A camel can survive for several months without food and for up to a week without water. It is capable of withstanding a weight drop of 40% and then consuming up to 32 gallons (145 liters) of water in one sitting!

The exact replica. Do camel spit actually exist? Yes, and it’s really bad. Though it seems more like vomiting, they aren’t actually spitting. They project saliva and the contents of their stomachs out of their mouths. Whatever the camel perceives to be a threat to it will be surprised, diverted, or bothered by this. When a camel is preparing to spit, you can tell because of the way its cheeks enlarge.

Although you’d assume a huge animal like a camel would be safe from predators, it is documented that wolves have attacked Bactrian camels at watering holes.

Do people eat cacti?

You can either leave the pads whole, cut them into strips, or chop them into cubes, depending on how you intend to use this vegetable. Cacti that are edible can be eaten raw or cooked. They can be grilled, sautéed, boiled, simmered, or deep-fried. Their ideal serving texture is soft and crispy. The texture of overcooked pads will be slimy. Combine them with various ingredients to create a range of wholesome, nutrient-rich recipes. Here are some recommendations:

You might need to switch the water you’re using to boil the pads and re-boil them. It’s possible that the sap coming from the pad is thick. As a general rule, the sap will be thicker the thicker the pad. After draining, the pads are washed in cold water. Why not prepare a traditional Mexican salad with diced tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos, onions, and lime juice? Salt and pepper are other good additions.


Season the pads well with salt and pepper if grilling them. When the pads are somewhat brown in color and soft to the touch, they are prepared. Additionally, you may season them with a dash of salt, a squeeze of lime juice, and a little olive oil.

Cactus pads can be added to various meals, either raw or cooked, to create flavorful, nutritious foods. They can be blended into a smoothie, or they can be diced and added as a topping to yogurt or cereal. Why not attempt incorporating them into stews, casseroles, and eggs. They make a delicious addition to quesadillas and salsa. You can choose to consume this adaptable, healthy vegetable alone, in a robust vegetable soup, in a fruit or vegetable salad, or even simply by itself! It can also be prepared into a jelly. Cactus pads can also be pickled and used to other meals as a condiment.

Who consumes cacti?

There are numerous species that consume cacti. Among them are woodrats, camels, birds, iguanas, tortoises, beetles, and jackrabbits, among others. Cacti are consumed by people as well. Such animals have evolved specific defenses to prevent injury from thorns and toxicity from cacti poisons.

The majority have evolved behavioral, anatomical, and physiobiological defenses against the deleterious effects of cactus use.

Prickly pear cacti and jumping Chollas are enjoyable to camels (have extremely sharp barb and spines). They adore the pads and spines of cacti. They can practically digest any tough fibrous plant because they are ruminants.

They attempt to avoid the spines when they eat so they may enjoy the delectable insides. Their prehensile, sensitive top lips are present (split into two haves). Camel upper lips are manipulated, acting as a sense of touch.

Their leathery, thick lips prevent them from experiencing the cactus’ discomfort. To help them cope with the pain of cactus pricks, they also have fragments of skin inside their mouths.

Camel eating the spiky vegetation might occasionally be harmful. To enjoy the plant’s green sections, they do suffer the agony.


They are often referred to as wood rats or trade rats. Packrats have huge ears, long tails, and large, black eyes, although they otherwise resemble rats. Although they adore eating the flesh of cacti, they always take care to avoid the spines.


Large-eared jackrabbits consume the base of cacti because they find this area to be juicy. They pick out areas with fewer or no spines to eat. In addition to eating fruit, jackrabbits also spread the seeds through their excrement.


They are also known as collared peccaries. Their long, pointed fangs stick out from their mouths. Javelinas mostly inhabit oak woodlands, desert washes, and saguaro and Palo Verde forests.

All varieties of cactus that can be found nearby are consumed by these creatures. They prefer to consume the spines of the desert prickly pear cactus as their major source of food.

Ground squirrel

One of the rodent family members is the ground squirrel. They don’t reside in trees; they live on the grounds. These squirrels range in color from tawny, gray, reddish, pale brown, to olive, or dark brown, and are more active throughout the day. They enjoy eating the cactus’ seeds and fruits, but they stay away from the spiky parts.

Prairie dogs

These rodents are herbivorous burrowers. White-tailed, black-tailed, Utah, Gunnison’s, and Mexican prairie dogs are the five species that make up this group. They turn to cactus as a source of food when they are out of options. They often eat the cactus’ base, blooms, and fruits.

Gila Woodpecker

They enjoy eating cactus fruits just as much as they enjoy devouring insects. The thorns are avoided by Gila woodpeckers. When building their nest or obtaining food, they use their pointed beaks to create cavities in the saguaro cactus. They have room and a good environment to grow their young in thanks to the saguaro cactus.

Eastern Cotton Tail

The rabbits of New World cottontails are called Eastern Cotton Tails. They resemble jackrabbits more. They enjoy eating the fruits and the cactus’ base. They contribute to the spread of seeds by their feces.

Galapagos Land Iguana

Because it is well adapted, this animal can consume the entire cactus. Its strong digestive system prevents it from experiencing any negative effects from ingesting the cactus spines. It removes larger thorns using the pad on its front paws before opting to take a few swallows of the cactus.

Which animals are cactus-dependent?

Both humans and animals can benefit greatly from cactus plants. Some cacti have fruit, backs, and leaves that are edible. Others provide as a supply of water in arid areas, which aids in the survival of many desert creatures.

Prickly pears and other cactus plants are food for many different bird species, animals, and insects. The blooms, fruits, and flesh of saguaro cacti are essential to the survival of numerous birds, lizards, animals, insects, and bats in the desert. Some raptors and other ground creatures build their nests in cacti.

Cactuses benefit a variety of creatures in different ways. Cactuses are vital for the survival of many creatures, whether they need them for food, shelter, or a water source. The various creatures that rely on cacti and how they do so are listed below.