Camelus dromedarius – dromedary camel (one-humped camel)
Camelus bactrianus – Bactrian camel (two-humped camel)
All camels require licensing.
Camels are normally kept in a fenced outdoor paddock with some form of shelter.
In order to protect the welfare of these animals, keepers must be able to demonstrate a good knowledge of husbandry and handling of the species they wish to keep.
There should be a second named person on the licence who is competent to care for the animals should the owner be absent or incapacitated.
Outdoor enclosures must be strong enough to resist the animals colliding with the fence.
Concrete or synthetic floor surfaces should be kept to a minimum, and should be non-slip. Suitable floor-coverings are grass or sand.
Fences should be either wire mesh, clearly visible high tensile wire fitted with droppers and tensioners, or post and rails, a minimum of 1.9m high. If wire mesh is used, the mesh size should be such that it is unlikely to entangle the animals by the head or legs.
Fences should be checked regularly to ensure that they have not become damaged.
High stone walls may also be used to contain camels, electric wire has also been used. The use of barbed wire is not appropriate.
It is recommended that camels are kept outside at grass.
The size of enclosure necessary depends on various factors, including the pasture type, the species to be kept, and whether supplementary feed is to be provided.
Factors requiring extra space include:
- keeping large groups of animals
- not providing supplementary feed
- using land with difficult or unusable terrain
Enclosures must be large enough to:
- allow the animals to graze and exercise freely
- allow animals held in groups to avoid each other
- not be overburdened by waste products or a build up of parasites
- include some form of shelter from the elements
As a guide, a single camel may be kept in an enclosure measuring at least 5 x 10m. A group of one male and two female camels may be kept in an area of at least 10 x 20m.
Temperature and shelter
Normal outdoor temperatures should be tolerable for all camels, however it is recommended that some form of shelter is made available. If a constructed shelter is provided, it is recommended that it be built to allow the animals to be locked inside if necessary.
Camels should have access to natural light.
If the animals are to be housed temporarily, fresh air ventilation must be provided.
The drainage of the enclosure must be capable of rapidly removing all excess water. Drains should be designed to avoid injury to the animals. Any open drains, other than those carrying surface water, should be outside the enclosure. Any faecal material must be disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.
Outdoor enclosures should be maintained in a clean state, with faeces, food debris and litter being removed on a daily basis. Indoor enclosures should ideally be built with materials that can be easily cleaned and disinfected.
Social dynamics and behavioural considerations
Camels are herd animals, therefore more than one animal should be kept if possible.
Some provision should be made to separate animals if necessary. Some form of quarantine may be required if an animal requires veterinary treatment. If the animals are to be kept indoors at any time, males may need to be housed individually.
Prevention of escape
Gates to enclosures should be securely locked at all times.
If the enclosure is accessible by the public, for example, adjoining a public highway, steps should be taken to prevent the possibility of the public gaining access to, or being injured by, the animals. This may require the erection of a secondary fence (a stand-off barrier), or a solid wall on the accessible sides of the enclosure. Warning signs may also be required.
Food, drink and bedding
Grass and hay are the main diet. Camels are capable of surviving on fairly sparse pasture. Depending on the pasture type and the number of animals held, hay or a suitable concentrate diet should be given. The provision of unlimited hay is especially important when kept on high quality pasture with lush grass. Concentrated commercial diets are normally given to young and breeding animals. Any supplementary feed should be provided in a way that allows all animals to feed at the same time. Salt licks may also be provided, and supplementary vitamin E is recommended if fresh grass is not available.
Sufficient fresh drinking water must be provided at all times.
Straw may be provided as bedding in constructed shelters.
The animals must be monitored at appropriate intervals, normally at least once every 24 hours.
Exercise and enrichment
The enclosure should be large enough for the animals to graze and take exercise. Some camels will create a dust bath in which to roll in dry weather.
Provision for capture and transportation
Most camels can be trained to be approached and led on a halter by known keepers. Veterinary care will usually be provided on site. A licence, issued by the local authority, for the keeping of these animals may specify restrictions on the movement of these animals and procedures to be followed.
The trailer used should be large enough for the animal(s) to stand and sit comfortably. The trailer must be well ventilated and straw bedding should be provided. Hay and water should be available for long journeys. Male animals should be transported separately (alone, or separated by a solid partition from other animals).
There should be a written contingency plan in place to be used in the event of an emergency, for example fire, flood, animal escape or injury to the keeper.
The licence may also specify procedures to be followed in the event of an escape and on the provision of information to the emergency services.
You are required to notify the local authority of any intentions to breed the animals.
Prevention and control of spread of infectious disease
Provision should be made to allow separation of sick or injured animals from the group. This may be achieved by isolating the animal in the shelter, or by fencing off an area of the paddock.
The keeper should provide details of their veterinary arrangements with a practice prepared to treat these animals. A schedule of veterinary care, including vaccination against clostridial diseases, routine parasite control and foot checks is necessary, and the keeping of records of veterinary attention is essential.
There are no transmissible diseases carried by these animals that pose a risk to the general public as long as there is no direct contact, and visitors are not allowed to handle the animals or their by-products.
- CITES enquiries
- import enquiries
- licensing enquiries, contact your local authority
- reporting an escaped animal, contact your local authority or police
- other enquiries related to the DWA Act
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