Horses can run very fast – no question. Camels, on the other hand, seem leisurely and rather slow.
But is this impression true?
What is clear is that both horses and camels can reach almost unimaginable speeds. Then there are the differences in training and physique.
The question of which animal species is faster is therefore not so easy to answer. We have compiled facts worth knowing for you, so that a comparison is still possible.
In this article you will learn whether and under what circumstances horses can be faster than camels. We will also show you why an exact comparison is not so easy and what it depends on.
Are horses faster than camels?
This question cannot be answered simply, because numerous factors play a role here.
The simple answer would be that the fastest horse manages up to 88 kilometers per hour, while the fastest camel “only” manages 67 kilometers per hour.
These top speeds, however, have been achieved under very different circumstances and depend on the training as well as on the ground and other criteria.
We will tell you what these are in the following sections.
Fleeing animal, or not?
Horses are generally rather flight animals. A stallion will defend his herd if there are no sufficient escape possibilities.
Mares with foals also prove defensive when they see their offspring in danger.
As long as they are not cornered and can flee – without being slowed down by foals or sick members of the herd, for example – they will try to run.
Evolutionarily, they are designed to do this.
Their physique is adapted to fast running. Accordingly, they reach very high speeds.
Camels, on the other hand, are not flight animals. They usually remain calm even in (potentially) dangerous situations. Accordingly, their bodies are less adapted to fast running. However, this does not mean that they cannot reach impressive speeds.
In addition, as priority desert animals, camels have to conserve energy and fluids for evolutionary reasons. Therefore, they move slower whenever possible.
Horses, on the other hand, also train their muscles by running a lot and fast as soon as possible for fun.
The ground as a decisive criterion
The speed of horses is usually measured on hard surfaces. Horse races on a running track offer a setting that is easy to control.
Horses can therefore push off much better and the resistance or friction is lower.
This gives them better conditions for high speeds.
Camels, on the other hand, usually walk and run on sand. If you have ever run in sand yourself, you know that speed is much more difficult and strenuous to achieve on this surface.
Temperatures as a factor
Horse racing usually takes place in moderate temperatures, while camel racing takes place in the dry desert climate. Although camels are adapted to this, they still usually try to conserve energy and water.
This affects their running speed. Camels voluntarily run only as fast as is absolutely necessary.
Therefore, in camel races, children used to be used as jockeys to drive the animals without weighing them down unnecessarily.
However, due to the exploitative treatment of the child jockeys, they have been replaced by small robots.
In contrast, horses – as long as they have the opportunity – run in more temperate climates and occasionally for the fun of running.
Because of the lower temperatures, they find it easier and more resource-efficient. Usually, more food is also directly available to them, whereas racing camels must survive extended periods of fasting.
Training and speed
As with humans and all other animals, training can significantly increase performance.
Unlike camels, normal riding horses are also more often galloped and are therefore more accustomed to it and better trained than camels.
These also tend to run at a leisurely pace when carrying loads or when being ridden. Accordingly, only animals that are used in camel races have appropriate training.
Even-toed ungulates and their feet
Horses are odd-toed ungulates, which have only one toe and also have a continuous hoof.
Camels are cloven-hoofed and so-called calloused. They have no hoof, but two toes, on each of which there is a nail.
This allows them to adapt to the surface they are walking on. However, it also means a significant difference in terms of gait.
Camels can push off the ground less efficiently, resulting in slower speed.
Physique and design
As you already know, horses are designed to run fast. However, there are significant differences between the different breeds.
A cold-blooded horse, like a Shire Horse or a Brabant, is not designed for fast racing. They are much more about strength and endurance, as they are working horses.
As a result, they are muscular but cumbersome and can weigh up to 1,200 kilograms.
In contrast, thoroughbred horses like Arabians. They are more slenderly built and much lighter, weighing up to 450 kilograms.
They also reach top speeds of up to 88 kilometers per hour.
Camels or dromedaries weigh up to 540 kilograms and have a less streamlined body, which is why even the fastest among them only reach around 67 kilometers per hour.
Who is faster – camels or horses?
With all this information, you now know that the fastest horse reaches higher speeds than the fastest camel.
Generally, however, several factors play a role, making it difficult to compare the species.
Nevertheless, horses tend to be faster. This is true even for representatives of the cold-blooded breeds.
In 1945, for example, a Shire horse named Samson reached the astonishing speed of 69.62 kilometers per hour.
Speed of horses and camels
In their average speeds, camels and horses do not differ significantly.
In a race against each other on surfaces suitable for the animal in question and its adaptation to its natural habitat, horses would come out ahead.
This is true at least when it comes to healthy and trained individuals.
In loose sand, on the other hand, camels would win because they are evolutionarily designed to be able to walk better on it.
Not for nothing do they have wider and softer feet that give them better footing. Horses, on the other hand, cope better with more stable, firmer surfaces.
A direct comparison is therefore difficult to make.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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