Do Camels Eat Snakes? (And Poisonous Snakes)

Camels belong to the family Camelidae, the only available living member in the suborder Tylopoda, meaning ‘’Calloused foot’’. The members of this group that do not form the ‘’true camels’’ are the South American camelids: Alpaca, Llama, Vicuna, and Guanaco. The true camels, Bactrian, and Arabian species mainly reside in Africa, China, the Middle East, and Mongolia. However, do these camels have a diverse diet? Do camels eat snakes?

Camels have an adaptation that helps them survive in extremely harsh conditions in the deserts of Egypt, China, and the Arabs. However, in extremely harsh conditions and disease outbreaks, they may be forced to change their diet ad consume anything edible to make them survive. This said, there are some reasons why camels could change their diet. Keep reading to know why.

Read: Do Badgers Eat Snakes?

Do Camels Eat Snakes?

Camels eat snakes when forced to do so. But they will never eat snakes as part of their diet. There is a myth surrounding camel owners in the middle east that snakes could cure certain camel diseases, Trypanosomiasis. According to veterinarians, forcing camels to eat snakes will not cure the disease.

Instead, you may make it suffer and could end up getting paralyzed by the venom.  Trypanosomiasis is a deadly pathogenic protozoal disease usually caused by a parasite known as T. evansi.

The disease is usually transmitted through fly bites and infects the bloodstream, requiring medical treatment. Some effects it can cause on the camel include irreversible testicular degeneration, high neonatal mortality, and abortions.

Symptoms of the disease are profuse tears, fever, swelling body parts, progressive anemia, dullness, and lack of energy despite a good appetite. If untreated, the camel could end up dead.

Why Do Camels Eat Snakes?

Camels eat snakes due to the Middle East belief that it’ll cure a certain disease in their body. From the superstition, owners usually feed live snakes to the camel and add water to its mouth. The people of these regions say that if the disease attacks a camel, it’ll keep staring at the sun until death arrives. This is due to the disease called Hyam.

The mystery of this disease is unexplainable to scientists, who have never invented a cure. Therefore, owners could be forced to feed a live poisonous snake like a Python or the king cobra. The camel will later remove a lot of tears and recover from the disease.

You should understand this is just a myth, and it’ll be wrong to keep it on a trial because you’ll make your camel surfer. Putting such a poisonous snake has no scientific proof. Therefore, you cannot tell if it’s a curative practice to implement.

Do Camels Eat Dead Snakes?

In extremely bad conditions, camels eat anything edible in the desert, including the dead snake. They are known to eat abandoned leather from other travelers’ tents. They can also eat other animals’ dead skin without getting any harm. Besides, they can also scavenge on other animals’ dead bodies and eat the remaining protein. This phenomenon helps them survive in the deserts in extreme conditions like food scarcity and water.

Dead snakes have no venom but are very rich in protein; camels utilize this protein, and it helps them survive for long days without food. Unlike humans, camels are well adapted to survive long days without food or water.

They have a hump that stores fats. When food is scarce, the body of the camel metabolizes the fat to produce energy. Also, the skin of the camel is so thick to reduce water loss.

Therefore, camels can travel great distances without food and water. But, when they come across water, they’ll drink too full and store the rest. This makes them a great deal of transport in the deserts of Africa, China, and the Middle East, where other means of transport are scarce. 

camel-eating-leaves

Do Camels Eat Poisonous Snakes?

Camels eat poisonous snakes if forced to, but they’ll never do so willingly or consume the live snake as part of their diet. There is a belief in the Middle East that a live poisonous snake has medical benefits for a camel suffering from a disease called Hyam. They believe that poisonous snake venom can treat this disease.

Snake venom is mainly made up of a complex protein chain; if the venom gets into the digestive system of the camel, it is digested. But this is only true if you introduce small quantities of the venom. The venom will only affect the body if it gets into the bloodstream of the camel. When in the blood, it can cause liver, heart, or kidney failure, eventually killing the camel.

Are Camels Immune to Snake Venom?

No, snake venom in the bloodstream will kill the camel. Like most animals and humans, snake venom is dangerous and could affect the nervous system or cause liver or kidney failure. However, camels may survive if they consume a poisonous snake. The venom of the snake will end up getting digested by the digestive of camel, therefore, reducing its effect.

Snake venoms are different and affect different body parts depending on the snake species. Some snake bites affect the nervous system and could end up paralyzing the host within a short time. In contrast, others affect the internal organs like the kidney and liver, eventually leading to their failure.

However, the camel’s digestive system is only defensive to small amounts of venom. Large amounts will affect the system and eventually cause more complications for the host.

Read: Can Snake Live If Cut in Half?

Why Camel Cry After Eating a Snake?

It is believed that camels will cry after eating snakes to release water. The venom in the digestive system makes the camel thirsty as more water flow through its eyes. It is known that water from camel eyes has medical benefits and should be stored. The water acts as a powerful anti-venom.

In ancient times, wise men kept the special tears in leather bags. These tears would act as pain relief from a scorpion or snake bite. However, you should note that they can act as a relief but will not cure snake bites. The desert regions are infested with many snake species, which are known to be so dangerous, this camel tears cannot perform their function in such snake bites.

How Do Camels Survive Eating Snakes?

Camels survive eating live poisonous snakes because their digestive system neutralizes a big part of the venom. Snake venom is made of protein, and the digestive system of the camel will digest this venom, neutralizing its power. Besides, for the venom to work and kill the host, it must get into the camel’s bloodstream.

There, it’ll enter the body’s organs, affecting them and eventually leading to their failure.

However, you should know that a camel will only survive a small quantity of venom if it consumes the snake. If the quantity increases, the venom may be unbearable and cause the host complications. On the other hand, snake bites inject large dosage quantities into the host; this will harm the camel leading to its death.

Some snake venom is so powerful. If the camel eats the snake, the venom could find its way into the bloodstream. More quantity of dosage may cause paralysis, kidney or heart failure, or even death.

What Other Things Do Camels Eat?

Camels are generally herbivores and will consume anything of vegetation. They are grazers but will browse on tree leaves. Grazing is feeding on the ground grass while browsing; on the other hand, it is feeding on tree leaves above the ground.

The digestive system of the camel is well suited to digest plant and plant products but would digest other foods like small quantities of protein, depending on the circumstances. However, unlike humans, camels can go for days without food or water.

The body of the camel is well adapted to fit in regions with a scarcity of food and water, like deserts. They possess a hump to store fats, not to store water, as most people confuse.

When it is scarce, or there is no food, the body metabolizes the fats to produce energy. This process continues as the hump reduces in size until the camel finds food. But, the fat can get used up and eventually the camel dye of huger.

Final Verdict

Camels belong to the family Camelidae in the suborder Tylopoda. Members of this group are herbivores and feed on plants as their main diet. However, in extreme conditions, camels could feed on carcasses and some dead animals for survival. The digestive system digest mainly plants but can digest some protein quantities from meat.

Some camel owners feed their camels with the poisonous snake, believing it’ll cure some diseases. Remember that it is a myth and has not been scientifically proven.

Snake venom contains fragile proteins and could end up getting digested and neutralized, reducing its power. But a snake bite injects large amounts of the venom into the bloodstream, causing internal organ failure and eventually death.

Disclaimer: This blog should not be considered as being professional pet medical advice. The content published on this blog is for informational purposes only. Please always consult with a licensed and local veterinarian for medical advice.

About Shaun Clarke

Shaun is passionate about pets and animals, especially dogs, cats, and rabbits. He owns a dog and a couple of cats too. He loves visiting wildlife sanctuaries and shares a strong bond with animals. When he is not writing, he loves to do a barbecue in the backyard with his family and friends.