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Camels vs. Cactus: Eating a prickly pear cactus with 6-inch needles

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There’s something about the prickly pear cactus that these camels like. And they like it enough to brave the six-inch needles on the pads or cladodes. Watch them eat in this video from Camel and Friends, a YouTube channel chronicling a group of pets in Sahuarita, Arizona.

Like monkey tails and cat claws, camel lips are prehensile, allowing them to grasp or hold things… like carrots:

They also have canine teeth and papillae, raised cone-like structures inside of their mouths that help them move food around. According to Luis Padilla, Director of Animal Health at the St. Louis Zoo, via MentalFloss

Camels need those big papillae because of what they’re eating. “Swallowing chewed leaves and sticks without some sort of mechanical assistance can be hard,” Padilla says. “The papillae are sort of firm—they can be partially keratinized—and can feel almost like plastic. In the areas where they are keratinized, the papillae protect the cheek and mouth from getting scratched, abraded, poked, perforated, or injured.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t feel the cactus spikes, but they seem to like the prickly pear cacti enough to deal with it.

They also eat pineapples:

And apples:

A box full of apples is a special treat. Since camels have no front top teeth apples must be manipulated to be chewed up back the back molars. That can be quite the delicate task and explains why they look so funny eating them.

Watch them racing around in the wind next.

h/t Boing Boing.

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