A camel’s most noticeable and distinctive feature is definitely its humps, but these animals’ other characteristics are just as fascinating.
Many people wonder whether camels have hooves or if they’ve adapted to have feet with toes.
Camels have two toes on each of their four feet, so they have eight toes in total. The two toes of each foot are connected with a cushion-like pad of fat that protects the foot from heat and reduces the amount of pressure put on the sand. Each toe has a partially-formed hoof that resembles a toenail.
Read on to learn more about camels’ feet, toes, and how they walk.
Camel Feet And Toe Characteristics
Camels make up part of the group of mammals that have even-toed hoofed feet. However, their hooves are more like nails and aren’t fully formed. Camels’ hooves do not cover their toes completely.
Learn more about what makes camels’ feet unique by watching this video.
Thick Skin Pads
The feet of a camel have thick, leathery pads of skin so that they aren’t burnt by the hot desert sand.
Camels’ feet are wide and round, similar to snowshoes. This allows the animals to evenly distribute their weight and avoid sinking into the sand as they walk.
The fat pads are also effective at reducing pressure created by the foot and are thought to be related to habitat specialization.
In other words, they’re thought to have developed as an adaptation to the camel’s desert habitat.
Compared to alpacas, which are closely related to camels, camels have larger foot contact areas that increase with their velocity or speed of movement.
This indicates that camels have lower foot pressures than alpacas.
Two Toes Per Foot
Each of a camel’s four feet has two toes, so a camel has eight toes total. Each toe grows a small hoof that looks similar to a toenail.
The two toes are connected with a broad, cushion-like pad that spreads when a camel’s foot makes contact with the ground. This pad means camels make hardly any noise when walking or even galloping.
Anatomy Of A Camel’s Toes
The foot morphology of a camel includes metacarpal bones, which are bones connecting the limbs to the phalanges of the toes.
The metacarpal bones are splayed at the end, and the bones of the toes resemble the letter Y.
How Do Camels Walk?
Camels walk by moving both of their left legs forward and then both of their right legs forward. This creates a side-to-side rocking motion and is called pacing.
Regular use of a pacing gait is unique to camels and llamas; no other types of wild mammals walk in this way.
Camels’ mode of locomotion caused their feet to adapt and become secondarily digitigrade. This means that camels walk on their toes, and they’ve lost their hooves and gained a broad foot pad over time.
Camels have four feet with two toes each, so they have a total of eight toes. Each toe has a hoof on the end that isn’t fully formed and looks like a toenail.
The toes on each foot are connected with a pad of fat that functions as a cushion. This cushion protects the bottom of the foot from the hot desert sand, and it also reduces the pressure placed on the sand by the camel’s foot. This way, camels don’t sink into the sand as they walk.