Baby - Dromedary Camel
How I got Baby:
Baby came to me all the way from an exotic animal breeder in Eastern Texas. He arrived on February 2nd, 2007 at exactly 30 days old.
The hauler brought Baby to me in the middle of the night. I remember meeting him across the street to help him find the house. He opened the back of the trailer to show me Baby and I couldn't believe how beautiful he was. He had huge dark eyes and beautiful white legs.
Our first month together was truly an unforgettable experience.
Except from my journal -
March 2nd, 2007
"Now our first month together is almost over. I can say without
a doubt he is one of the most sweet and beautiful animals that there are. His hump is really getting big now. Having a camel is very hard work, I spend a large part of my day with him.
He's very demanding, especially with his a round the clock feedings, and even without that he's so inquisitive and enthusiastic, he commands your attention. Much different than owning a horse, or any other animal, I imagine! I admire the camel so much, they are a true authentic piece of antiquity. Just looking at him I feel like I'm part of human history, part of the past. I look forward to our days together "
In fact, I spent so much time with Baby he was used to everything. Nothing fazed him and he was very well trained already. He laid down on command when you tapped the ground with a stick and we were working our way to do it by asking only. He walked on a lead perfectly and was learning how to move away from pressure.
As Baby matured...
...he started displaying typical adolescent male camel behavior. Camels go into rut like a deer and can be very dangerous during certain months of the year. It's always recommended to castrate a male camel, unless you specifically plan to breed or are otherwise experienced. With Baby being my very first camel, I knew that I was going to have him neutered to prevent a dangerous situation. I intended to wait as long as I could, though.
Castration has its benefits, but it also have major drawbacks if done too early. The suppression of the hormones that cause the rutting behavior, also sadly effect growth. Camels that are castrated too early tend to have grotesque oversized humps and poor bone development. I waited until Baby was two years old to castrate him which was a wonderful decision for us and for his health. It wasn't easy though! Baby turned into a little monster for part of the year, but I don't regret at all.
While moving, my neighbors were watching Baby until a new fence could be completed at the new place. Once I was done I went to pick Baby and Nessie up and I noticed that Baby was showing obvious signs of weakness in his back legs. I was immediately concerned. Muscle weakness is a clear sign of a deficiency in Selenium, a mineral that Baby had been supplemented with since he was thirty days old, but I couldn't deny the symptoms.
I had a vet out who did some blood tests and was able to determine that Baby's Selenium levels were perfectly normal, but his Vitamin E levels were not! In fact, they were dangerously low. I contacted many experienced veterinarians and long time camel owners, but no one had ever heard of a camel being low in only Vitamin E and not Selenium!
The recommended treatment was Vitamin E injections and supplements. It wasn't long before I had Baby's blood tested again and found that the treatments were a success. His recovery wasn't overnight, though, but he made remarkable progress.
His muscles are still weak and I can only hope that the muscle is taking it's time repairing itself and with continued support with natural Vitamin E, Baby will be back to his strong self soon.