How Do Camels Eat Cactus?

Camels have been considered to be the ships of the desert. That would make them accustom themselves to eat anything that is scarcely available in the dessert. Camels have adapted themselves to the harsh conditions in the desert and thus do eat cactus. 

Ever wondered how do camels eat cactus? The rotating chew habit of the camel help distributes the pressure of the cactus and papillae to move down the throat silently. The sharp end of the cactus does not poke the throat of the camel. The camel has a kind of mortar and pestle arrangement in its mouth that eases the pressure of eating food such as cactus.

How Do Camels Eat Cactus?

Camels have adapted to the dessert eating habits and thus their mouth has a few evolutionary aspects in their mouth that do not make them feel the pain of eating the thorny cactus. The hard palate at the top o the mouth of camels assists them in eating the cactus rather comfortably. The papillae lining along with the palate are the best options that help you chew it better. 

(Photo: YouTube)

The papillae have been made from keratin and protect the mouth of the camel against the onslaught of the cactus and its thorns. However, camels are likely to face pain when eating cactus at their lips under most of the circumstances. 

In any case, it should not mean that the camel does not feel the pain when eating cactus. The strong jaw and teeth help the camel grind the cactus effectively against the palate of their mouth. One of the best adaptations that camel opts for would be through its unique grinding and chewing pattern. The rotating chewing habit helps the camel push the cactus vertically down the throat. 

Camel belongs to the family of pseudo-ruminants. The digestive system of the camel assists it in digesting the roughage more comfortably. 

Does it Hurt Camels to Eat Cactus?

The cactus thorns are pricky and they can hurt the camel when eating them. Camels feel the pain when eating the cacti, but do tolerate it for the sake of nutrition. 

However, the papillae let the camels chew the cactus in such a way that the needles and spines of the cactus do not poke into its mouth. The habit of rotating the cactus when eating it makes it go down the camel’s throat vertically rather than horizontally. 

While camel can eat cacti carefully, there are times when you will find it hurting them sometimes. The thorns can poke the region around the mouth and lips. 

What Animal Eats Cacti?

Apart from camels, there are several animals that do eat cactus. In fact, almost all the animals in the desert eat the cactus. Since deserts lack water and other nutritious food, the animals in the desert are forced to eat cactus to survive. 

 If you are looking to check out what animals eat cactus in the desert, the list here should help you find it: 

  • Javenilas: These can eat every part of a cactus plant. 
  • Mule deer: They eat the cactus fruits 
  • Land iguanas: These animals eat cactus fruits 
  • Squirrels: they eat cactus fruits 
  • Desert tortoises 
  • Gophers 
  • Woodrats
  • Jackrabbits

 A few of the animals that eat cactus can include:

  • Ground Squirrels: They eat the easy to eat parts of the cactus. They do not eat the thorny parts of the cactus. They would consume fruits and seeds of the cactus. 
  • Prairie dogs: They would eat the cactus when they do not get any other food. They would feed on the base of the cactus and its flowers and fruits. 
  • Packrats: They eat cactus and avoid eating the thorny part. They normally eat the fruits and suck the juice of the cactus. 
  • Gila Woodpecker: The Gila Woodpecker eats insects, but they would normally eat cactus fruits as well. 
  • Eastern Cottontail: These animals eat the juicy base of the cactus. They also eat the fruits of the cactus.

The animals outlined above apart, you may also find a few cactus recipes consumed by humans as well. 

What Do Camels Eat?

Camels are known for eating throughout the day. These animals are known to be quite diurnal and spend their days eating. They are quite known for finding the right food even when it is quite scarce. They eat short grass comfortably.

Since the lips of the camel have their lips that move independent of one another, they can eat the grass even if it is shorter. The lips of the camels can easily by cutting off the vegetation rather easily enough. Camels normally eat thorns and salty plants. They can even eat fish. Camels are also known to feed on dried leaves, seeds, and thorny twigs. The domesticated camels are however fed grass, grains, wheat, and oats. 

Why Do Camels Eat Cactus in the Desert?

 The obvious reason why camels eat cactus in deserts is the lack or scarcity of food in the desert. The harsh environment in the desert makes the cactus fruits and twigs one of the prime options for eating and maintaining nutrition in the body. 

That is exactly why camels have developed the habit of eating cactus in the desert. They have developed the habit of eating practically everything that is available in the desert to consume. The desert dwellers who domesticate the camels burn off the cacti spines so that their camels can eat them more comfortably. 


Do Camels feel pain eating cactus?

The strong jaw and teeth of the camel can help it eat cactus without hurting it much. However, they may feel a little pain, especially in the lips. 

How do camels eat cactus?

The tough mouth of the camels help them eat the thorny foods such as cactus. They are ruminants and thus help them eat any kind of food rather comfortably. 

What is camels favorite food?

The domesticated camels are fed with grass, grains, wheat, and oats. They would also eat the food such as live on dried leaves, seeds, and thorny twigs.


Nikita is a Succulent lover. She really enjoys planting and nourishing them. She loves to share information about various Succulents on this blog to aware people more about these awesome plants.

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