Can Camels Jump? How High? (Facts)

Photo: Rangeecha / Shutterstock

If you’ve ever seen a camel walk, it’s quite an interesting sight! Camels pace by moving both of their left feet and then both of their right feet, resulting in a side-to-side rocking motion. 

Many people wonder whether these seemingly uncoordinated animals are capable of jumping off the ground.

Camels can technically jump as they’re galloping, but they cannot jump from a stationary position. A camel’s jump is only a few inches off the ground, and the faster a camel gallops, the higher it comes off the ground. A sport called camel jumping is played in Yemen, but the animals don’t jump; instead, players leap over groups of camels.

Read on to learn about whether camels are capable of jumping and what the sport of camel jumping entails.

Are Camels Physically Capable Of Jumping?

To determine whether camels can jump, let’s take a closer look at their feet, legs, and the way they walk.

How Camels Walk

Camels have round, wide feet that are similar to snowshoes, and they have two toes on each foot. Their wide feet allow them to distribute their weight evenly so that they don’t sink into the sand.

Camels have a digitigrade stance when walking. This means that their toes come into contact with the ground, while the rest of their feet and ankles remain elevated.

These animals typically walk with a long, slow stride. The two left legs move together, and the two right legs move together.

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The two sides alternate; camels move both feet on one side, and then both feet on the other to walk.

Camels usually pace rather than trot, and their pace is an unstable gait that is well-suited for flat surfaces like those in the desert.

However, camels also gallop sometimes, mostly when they’re being chased or if they’re participating in a camel race.

Camels’ Walking Speed

The usual pace of a walking camel is around five kilometers per hour or just over three miles per hour.

Racing camels can move much faster, galloping at a speed of 25 kilometers per hour or fifteen and a half miles per hour.

Galloping Vs. Jumping

When camels gallop, there are points during which all four feet leave the ground at the same time. This is the only situation in which all of a camel’s feet are in the air.

But is this technically considered a jump?

The technical definition of jumping from Merriam-Webster is “to spring into the air” or leap, especially “to spring free from the ground… by the muscular action of feet and legs.”

According to this definition, it’s fair to say that camels can jump, but it’s also important to note that camels can’t simply jump off the ground from a stationary position. 

Camels must be in the process of galloping for all of their feet to come off the ground at the same time, and this is more of a low jump than a leap. Camels can’t jump over obstacles or leap across a stream, for instance.

Height Of A Camel’s Jump

Camels can’t jump very high. Although it’s impossible to specify an exact number, camels can jump as much as several inches off the ground when they’re galloping. 

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The faster camels gallop, the higher they will get off the ground. Still, this is not an impressive leap, by any means; camels cannot jump in the same way that horses can.

What Is The Sport Of Camel Jumping?

Camel jumping is a sport that originated in Yemen and is played professionally by tribesmen of the Zaraniq desert.

It requires quite a bit of athleticism and acrobatic skill and has been around since ancient times. Participants train for camel jumping year-round.

This sport is seen as a rite of passage and a chance for the young men of the tribe to prove their courage, strength, and speed. 

There isn’t a specific schedule for camel jumping as a sport. Instead, camel jumping competitions take place during festivals, weddings, and other major ceremonies. 

The goal of camel jumping is to cleanly jump over a group of dromedary (one-humped) camels that are arranged to stand together in a row.

If any part of a jumper’s body comes into contact with any of the camels, the jump is considered invalid.

The Zaraniq desert tribesmen wear their traditional attire tucked in at the waist and leave their feet bare when competing in this sport.

Only the men of the tribe can participate in this sport; the women are sometimes permitted to watch.

Jumps are performed by starting at a distance and sprinting toward the camels. A one-foot-tall takeoff mound of mud in front of the camels is used to help the sportsmen take the leap.

Each jumper gets one chance to jump over the camels.

In the end, the person who is able to jump over the highest number of camels is the winner, and they receive a cash prize as a reward. This prize can be as much as 30,000 rials, which is equivalent to an entire month’s wages.

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More important than the cash prize, though, is the pride and honor of winning the competition. The winner is seen as a warrior and receives much respect from the rest of the tribe.

Many of the competitors also participate to continue the tradition and pass it on to the next generation.

Take a look at the video below to see the sport of camel jumping in action:


Camels cannot jump off the ground from a stationary position. The only situation in which all four of their feet leave the ground at the same time is when they’re galloping. Technically, they can jump, but only when moving at high speeds.

When camels jump as they gallop, they only lift off a few inches from the ground. The faster a camel gallops, the higher it can jump, but this is still more of a hop than a leap.

In Yemen, the Zaraniq desert tribesmen participate in a sport called camel jumping, but the camels are not the ones doing the jumping! Instead, the tribesmen take turns leaping over a group of camels.

Read More About Camels:

  1. How Do Camels Survive In The Desert?
  2. How Much Water Can A Camel Drink?
  3. Can Camels Have 3 Humps?
  4. How To Milk A Camel
  5. Camel Predators

James Ball

James has had a lifelong passion for animals and nature, tracing back to his childhood where he first began fostering intimate knowledge and connection with pet frogs and snakes. He has since honed this interest into a career as a trained Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Biogeography, sustainability and conservation. In addition to his professional pursuits, James maintains an active lifestyle, regularly indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking, and musical pursuits like playing piano and swimming.

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