How Do Camels Attract Mates? (7 Strategies)

It’s always fascinating to discover how different types of animals attract mates during the breeding season.

Camels, in particular, have some of the strangest and most interesting methods of enticing the opposite sex.

Male camels attract mates by making mating calls, extruding their dullas, spreading pheromone-filled urine on their backs, and foaming at the mouth. They also secrete liquid from their poll glands for smudging, and they’re extremely active and aggressive toward other camels. Female camels make bleating noises and present their hindquarters to males when they’re receptive to their advances.

Continue reading to learn about each of the ways that camels increase their appeal to potential mates.

1. Camel Mating Call

The first of many ways that camels attract mates is with a mating call. Male camels use their saliva to make a low, gurgling noise that indicates to females that they are ready to mate. 

Males also make whistling noises when in the presence of potential mates.

Meanwhile, female camels make bleating noises to let men know that they’re interested in them. 


2. Protruding Dulla

Both male and female camels have organs called dullas (sometimes spelled as “dulah” or “dulaa”), but only the males use their dullas to attract mates.

The dulla is an organ that is an extension of the mouth’s soft palate. When a male camel’s testosterone levels increase during the breeding season, the dulla is triggered to grow. 

Then, the male camel blows through the dulla so that it extrudes from his mouth.

A protruding dulla looks a bit like a pink balloon and is often mistaken for a camel’s tongue.

Female camels are very attracted to dullas. Because the growth of a dulla is linked to high testosterone levels, it indicates virility and shows that a male would make a suitable mate.

Male camels’ dullas are known to have quite an unpleasant odor. This is likely because, as an extension of the soft palate, the dulla is frequently in contact with the camels’ regurgitated food.

A female camel’s dulla, however, remains inside her mouth at all times and does not extrude.

You can see what a male camel’s dulla looks like in the video below, about one minute and forty seconds in. The video also shows multiple other methods that male camels use to attract mates.


3. Pheromone-Filled Urine 

Male camels have numerous ways of attracting females, and one of the most notable (and smelliest) is through their urine, which contains pheromones that attract female mates.

Thanks to their highly-adapted kidneys, which have evolved to prevent as much water loss as possible in the dry environment of the desert, camels’ urine is extremely thick and concentrated. Its consistency is more like syrup than water.

The urine smells strongly of ammonia due to the highly concentrated elements and chemicals it contains.

To make the most of their pheromone-filled urine, male camels urinate on their tails and then swish their tails over their backs to spread the urine as much as possible. This helps females to pick up the scent.


4. Hindquarter Presentation

When female camels are ready to mate, they approach the males and present their hindquarters. At this point, they urinate constantly, and they flip their tails up and down rapidly.

At this point, the male will typically sniff the female’s flank and perineum area and demonstrate a flehmen response. 

A flehmen response is when an animal curls their upper lip, exposing its teeth. This is a means of transferring the scent to the vomeronasal organ, which can better process it. 

The flehmen response is a crucial behavior that helps camels (and other animals) evaluate the reproductive viability of a potential mate.


5. Foaming At The Mouth

Another way male camels attract female mates is by foaming at the mouth. It’s thought that hypersalivation may be a result of extending the dulla out of the mouth.

It’s also been theorized that, because frothing at the mouth involves a lot of water loss, a male camel can display his strength and physical fitness by demonstrating to females that he can waste precious hydration without suffering any ill effects.


6. Poll Gland Secretions

The poll glands are sets of glands located between a camel’s ears and on the back of its neck.

When male camels are ready to mate and wish to attract female camels, an initially amber-colored liquid is secreted from their poll glands. Researchers believe that poll gland secretions contain pheromones and androgens.

After a few minutes, this liquid becomes tar-colored. As it dribbles down the back of male camels’ necks, it stains the area, leaving darkened fur behind.

Poll gland secretions are known to have a particularly fetid smell, which male camels disseminate through a process called smudging

This means that males roll and rub their necks on as many nearby surfaces as possible, particularly the sand and small bushes. Smudging functions as a marking behavior and also attracts female mates.


7. Increased Aggression And Activity Levels

A final way that male camels attract mates is with increased aggression, both toward other males and toward females. They’ll even be aggressive to humans if there are any nearby.

Confined male camels show signs of anxiety, such as pacing, and they’ll often try to break out of their pen or corral.

If they’re held in captivity with females, they do their best to keep other males away by constantly surveying the area. They will chase and fight with other males, and this sometimes leads to severe injury.

In their natural habitat, males will compete to breed with an entire harem of camels that can include as many as 20 females.

Male camels may also chase females around, put pressure on their necks to force them to sit down, and bite their humps when they’re interested in mating with them.

Because they have such high stress levels during this time, male camels often cut back on their food intake and have diarrhea frequently. This results in them losing up to 35 percent of their body weight.


Conclusion

Male camels have numerous methods of making themselves appear more appealing to potential mates.

They make mating calls, which often sound like low, gurgling noises or whistling sounds. They also extrude their dullas, extensions of the soft palate that look like a pink balloon and are often mistaken for camels’ tongues.

In addition, male camels urinate on their tails and spread the pheromone-filled urine all over their backs.

They also hypersalivate and foam at the mouth.

Not only that, but males produce poll gland secretions and smudge them on nearby surfaces, typically sand and small bushes.

They become highly active and aggressive and can lose more than one-third of their body weight as a result.

Female camels, meanwhile, don’t require as many methods of attracting mates. Instead, males fight for their affection.

If a female camel is receptive to a male’s attention, she will make bleating noises and present her hindquarters to him.

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