Rare White Camels Come With One Hump Or Two

Larry Seibel of Ferncroft Farms in Wake Forest, North Carolina, says he's found the perfect livestock for smaller farms -- baby white camels.

He sells them to other farmers to clear noxious weeds from fields, and to people who just want something exotic to look at. His Dromedary camels have one hump and are quite common. Bactrian camels have two humps and are on the endangered species list. White camels of either breed are quite rare.

Many years ago, a West Coast zoo had the only white Bactrian male in the U.S., and to keep them rare they sterilized male offspring. One of the young males was ill with pneumonia and escaped the procedure. Seibel ended up owning that camel -- appropriately named Lucky -- and used it as the sire to start his operation.

Camel food, shelter and fencing needs are similar to cattle. Seibel feeds his camels hay and supplements and has a multi-pen, two-story barn for cold weather and calving.

"They're better than a brush goat because they eat weeds and other invasive plants cattle won't eat," Seibel says. When grazed alongside cattle and horses, they'll eat the weeds and leave the grass alone."

Weighing 1,200 to 1,500 lbs., the camels are very trainable when raised as bottle-fed babies. Though adult camels have a reputation for spitting, that is only when they are threatened or injured, Seibel says. Properly raised they are gentle creatures.

Camels have a gestation period of 11 to 13 months, and their lifespan in captivity is 40 years. They're the oldest domesticated animals known to man. At the hump the average height of a Bactrian is about 7 ft. A thick, shaggy coat covers the camel during cold weather and is shed when the temperature rises.

Due to their rarity, white camels are expensive. Seibel sells them all over the U.S.

Most customers are breeders, Seibel says. Others, such as theater groups, like the white camels, especially for night productions. Some business owners use camels to give rides. Up to four small children can ride an adult camel.

"They're more intelligent than a horse," Seibel says. "You just have to make friends with them to train them. You can't force them to do anything, just go with their nature."