Emir. J. Food Agric ● Vol 30 ● Issue 8 ● 2018 709
Evaluation of mating and the causes of noises at night
in small dromedary camel herds
Mohamad Abdulmohsen1*, Salah Abdulaziz Al-Shami1, Saad Al-Sultan1 and Marzouk Al-Ekna2
1 Department of Veterinary Public Health and Animal Husbandry, College of Veterinary Medicine, King Faisal University, Saudi Arabia,
2 Department of Clinical Studies, College of Veterinary Medicine, King Faisal University, Saudi Arabia
Prof. Mohamad Abdulmohsen Mohamad, Professor of Animal Behavior and Management, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, King Faisal University,
Saudi-Arabia. Tel: +966548927792, E-mail: email@example.com
Received: 12 February 2018; Accepted: 24 June 2018;
Camels are seasonal breeder animals that need special
management practices to improve their reproductive behavior.
One of the major problems in the breeding of the dromedary
camels is the poor conception rate. The reproductive
behavior of the one-humped camels is concentrated on
the short breeding season in the winter (Al-Qarawi, 2005).
The reproductive efficiency of the livestock depends
mainly on hereditary factors, management practices and the
production conditions (Kaufmann, 2005). The impaired
camel reproductive efciency under pastoral conditions had
been recorded because of the short breeding season that did
not enable the chance for frequent and successful mating
(El – Hassanein 2003; Skidmore 2005 and Marai et al., 2009).
The short breeding season, low male desire and aggressiveness
were behind the impaired reproductive efciency and injuries
in camel herds (Padalino et al., 2015). Furthermore, the longer
calving interval and higher abortion rate were among the
causes of low fertility in the dromedary camels (Elwishy, 1987).
In Saudi Arabia and as the temperature lowers the mating
time of the dromedary camels starts and continues from
the end of October to the beginning of February. The
mating time or duration of mating ranged from 9 to 22 min
(Al-Hazmi, 2000). The mating time was shorter during the
beginning of the breeding season than that during the peak
of the season and decreased as the weather became warmer.
The overall mean of copulation time was 5 min. 37 sec. +
0.1249 (Rai et al., 1987).
The female camel in the estrus would lie down to the male
approach and camelids are the only ungulates that mate in
the lying position (Rathore, 1986; Elwishy, 1988). If the
female refused to lie down, the male would force her in
many ways (Gauthier-Pilters and Dagg, 1981).
Unlike the females of other domestic animals, ovulation
is conditioned by mating in she-camels (Elwishy, 1987).
Therefore, some breeders forced the females into mating
by restraining the forelegs. This was practiced to shorten
This study aims to evaluate the mating act in camel herds with a small female number and to determine the causes of noises and disturbances
heard among the members at night during the breeding season. The proper sex ratio in the camel herds is one male for 50-80 females, so
the small number of females could not be sufcient for the intense desire of males during the short breeding season. The later situation
worsens if more than one male exists within the herd members. The dominant males spent a longer time in mating (P < 0.01) than the
submissive ones. The mating time increased (P < 0.01) if the females showed their readiness for copulation. The mating performance
was successful if one male existed alone. The submissive male failed in performing intromission during the dominant presence. Improper
sex ratio because of the small number of females did not satisfy the male desire. Therefore, the dominant male pretended to rest beside
a preferred female at night in order to rape her through sudden mounting. Forced mating occurred by either coercion or deceiving the
females. After mounting, the forced females tried to get rid of the males by biting his knee or face seriously. The behavioral responses
of the forced females were the same whether they held down by the male or after tying their legs as many breeders do. During coercion,
the male tried to x her underneath by pressing her forearms. The later situation would probably end with improper intromission and in
turn impaired reproduction.
Keywords: Dromedary camels; Breeding season; Forced mating; Less female number
Emirates Journal of Food and Agriculture. 2018. 30(8): 709-714
Abdulmohsen, et al.
710 Emir. J. Food Agric ● Vol 30 ● Issue 8 ● 2018
the calving interval and enhance the reproduction (Dioli,
1991 and Robert, 2010). In fact, mating was successful
when females accepted the male willingly (Abdel Rahim
and El-Nazier, 1993). On the other hand, after parturition
by 4 days, male camels were observed forcing females for
mating and all became pregnant (Khan and Younas, 2015).
One adult male camel to 50:80 females was considered
sufficient for the breeding purposes under nomadic
conditions (Dioli, 1991 and Schwartz and Dioli, 1992). On
the other hand, many camel herds in the Eastern region of
Saudi Arabia contained less number of females that would
not satisfy the intense desire of male. Meanwhile, Ahmed
et al. (2018) reported the male to female ratio would not
affect the reproductive efciency in camels. Although one
male camel is enough for 200 females, a smaller number of
females are usually used safely without problems (Arthur
et al., 1985).
This study aims not only to evaluate the mating act in camel
herds with a small female number but also to determine
the reasons of noises and troubles occurred among the
members at night during the breeding season.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
This study was conducted on three private camel farms in
the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia during two consecutive
breeding seasons. The herd members on each farm were
arranged equally to be 12 adults, apparently healthy camels
(2 males and 10 females/farm). The age of camels on the
three farms ranged from 6-8 years. The yard provided
a minimum of 28 m2 of oor space area/adult (Higgins,
1986). The adult males joined the female yard on the three
farms during the breeding seasons that continued from the
end of October until the beginning of February.
Observation and records
The dominant male on each farm was identied as the
only male who extruded the soft palate (gulla) during the
rutting season. In addition, the dominance matrix (who
supplanted whom in mating and feeding instances) was
used in identifying the social rank of the herd members
(Paul and Patrick, 2004). The copulation acts (either
normal or forced mating) were targeted, where continuous
observation sessions were planned to cover the 24 hours
of the day on the three farms (each session continued 3
hours a day). The observation sessions covered the whole
day i.e. the observation session started at 6:45 a.m. for 3
hours continuously, then the next observation session on
the other day started at 9:45 a.m. and so on until covering
the 24 hours of the day. The total observation hours were
72 (3 hours x 8 sessions x 3 farms). The way of forcing
females into mating had been described. The latency from
intromission until the withdrawal of penis was considered
a duration of mating (Singh and Prakash, 1964). After the
occurrence of mating, the time and duration (min) were
recorded using a stopwatch. During resting, the females
took a position similar to that of mating. The behaviors
of males and females on each farm were recorded at the
nighttime to investigate the causes of troubles (Table 1).
Since most of the mating incidents were performed by
the dominant male on the three farms, mating attempts
were enabled for the submissive males after isolating the
dominants in neighboring yards with visual communication.
The couple during either mating or attempting mating was
observed and photographed as mentioned in table 1.
Since the ovulation in camels is conditioned by coitus, some
camel breeders tried to reduce the calving interval by forcing
the females into mating through restraining their forelegs
(Khan and Younas, 2015). Therefore, this experiment had
been practiced on the three farms during two successive
breeding seasons to evaluate the effects of female restraining
on the mating performance. This experiment was also
intended to investigate the performance of submissive male
during the dominant presence and vice versa. Therefore,
three adult females of nearly similar age (6.5-8 years) were
restrained in a lying position for 30 min once weekly and
exposed to the male once at a time. The submissive male
on each farm attempted to mate one of the females 6 times
once weekly as follows:
1. Three times while the dominant is watching, after isolation
in the adjacent yard but with visual communication. The
number of mating attempts was 9 on the 3 farms.
2. Three times performing alone, after complete isolation of
the dominant (number of mating attempts was 9/3 farms).
Table 1: The points of evaluation during mating and the male
responses to the resting females at night
Couple Points of evaluation
Male camel -The social rank of males.
-Smelling the female genital organs (p/a).
-Extrusion of gulla (soft palate) (p/a).
-Focusing during mating (without looking around)
or distracted (looking at the other male).
-Forelegs on the ground or over the female’s
-Flexed knee joint or extended.
-Wrong and proper intromission.
She-camel -Struggling underneath (p/a).
-Grunting during mounting (p/a).
-Orientation during intromission (p/a).
-Biting the male knee joint (p/a).
Males at night
while resting of
- The male squats, without rumination besides
the preferred female and grinds his teeth (p/a).
- The male ruminates at rest and sleeps
(p/a): Presence or absence of a behavioral activity
Abdulmohsen, et al.
Emir. J. Food Agric ● Vol 30 ● Issue 8 ● 2018 711
The dominant male on each farm was given a chance to mate
the restrained female 3 times only during the presence of
the submissive male. The dominant had not been tried alone
because he was successful and did not pay attention to the
submissive presence. Mating time and the associated behavioral
activities were observed for both males and restrained females.
This study follows the institutional guidelines for the humane
treatment of animals and complies with the relevant legislation.
The animal care committee at the Deanship of Scientic
Research, King Faisal University had approved the female
restraint to evaluate it, providing that some camel breeders
have practiced it. The informed consent was taken from the
breeders and considered by the animal care committee.
Means (±SE) of mating time were determined for both
dominant and submissive males and the independent samples
T-test was used to test the signicance between means (SPSS
program version 24.0 (2016). Likewise, the means (±SE) of
the mating time were also determined when the females were
receptive and/or forced, and the independent samples T-test
was used to test the signicant difference.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
During the two successive breeding seasons, the submissive
males did not attempt mating except after isolation of the
dominant in another yard. The dominant male was the only
one who extruded the gulla (soft palate) on the three farms.
The females showed their readiness for mating towards
the dominant. The dominant males spent more time in
mating (P < 0.01) than the submissive ones while the mean
frequency of ejaculation did not differ signicantly between
the dominant and submissive males (Table 2). The previous
observation agrees with Perry (1985) who reported that the
submissive ram mounted and ejaculated less when viewed
by two dominant rams than when tested alone.
The short duration of copulation by the submissive males
might be attributed to the fear-stress as they were looking to
the dominants during their attempts. The submissive male
did not perform the intromission properly because of the
weak erection, and confusion (Figure 4). This could justify
the shorter duration of mating because of the fear-stress
during the act. The recorded mating times are nearly similar
to Al-Hazmi (2000), while shorter duration was reported
by Rai et al. (1987).
Forcing she-camels for mating occurred either by the male
force or through restraining of females’ forelegs. Eight
cases were excluded out of 27 because of the intromission
failure. Forcing the females by the male’s force may be
attributed to the less female numbers during the short
breeding season. This disagrees with Ahmed et al. (2018)
who reported that the male to female ratio did not affect
the reproductive performance in dromedary camel herds.
The mating time increased (P < 0.01) if the females showed
their readiness for mating (Table 3). During mating, the
forced females were struggling and trying to get rid of
the male even by biting his knee joint (Figure 2). These
ndings agree with Mohamad et al. (2014) who observed
that forcing the females decreased the mating time, and
the forced females were struggling underneath to get
rid of males. The receptive she-camels showed apparent
behavioral signs indicating their acceptance and readiness
to mate. She-camels in heat stand still to the male approach
and may even mount the reluctant male (Figure 3). The
peaceful environment created by receptive females was
suitable for the occurrence of powerful erection that
ensures successful mating (parasympathetic effect).
Conversely, the stressful environment of the forced females
resulted in the short time of mating (sympathetic effect).
The presence of one male in the herd resulted in
the occurrence of successful mating without distraction.
The presence of another male in the herd was stressful in
the beginning because of both males engaged in watching
each other away from the reproductive media. Therefore,
the presence of another male could distract the other,
especially during the breeding season until establishing the
solid social structure. The effect of another male presence
varied according to the social rank within the herd social
structure. The dominant male performed mating without
paying any attention to the submissive male. During the
submissive male presence, the dominant was stable, showed
strong erection (8/9), extended legs (8/9) and performed
successful intromission all the time. On the other hand, the
audience effect of the dominant male over the submissive
was dramatic as he showed weak erection (8/9), exed
legs (5/9) and performed improper intromission (6/9).
Table 2: Means of mating time (min) and frequency of
ejaculation for both dominant and submissive male camels
Male camels Mating time Frequency of ejaculation
Dominant (17)a13.50±0.95** 9.30±3.33
Submissive (10) 7.29±0.69 5.60±1.20
**Highly signicant difference at P<0.01
a Number of observed cases
Table 3: Means of mating time (min) in case of receptive
females and after coercion
She-camels Copulation time or duration
Receptive (20) 14.20±1.53**
**Highly signicant difference at P<0.01
a Number of observed cases
Abdulmohsen, et al.
712 Emir. J. Food Agric ● Vol 30 ● Issue 8 ● 2018
The submissive male alone within the herd members had
improved the mating performance as he became stable,
showed strong erection and performed proper intromission
in 7 cases out of 9 (Table 4). The possibility of copulation
could occur in the daytime and at night as well. However,
deceiving the females occurred only at night in the camel
herds with a small female number, where the male lied
beside the preferred female, then jumped suddenly over her
in a mating trial (Figure 1). The noises heard at night was
because of the excessive grunting emitted by the deceived
Table 4: The behavioral characteristics of the dominant and submissive males during mating
Males Behavioral activities associated with the mating
Before mounting Erection Forelimbs Intromission
Distracted focused Weak strong Flexed extended proper wrong
Dominant (9)a0/9b9/9 1/9 8/9 1/9 8/9 9/9 0/9
Submissive (9) 9/9 0/9 8/9 1/9 5/9 4/9 3/9 6/9
Submissive alone (9) 0/9 9/9 0/9 9/9 2/9 7/9 7/9 2/9
Full erection usually occurs in most cases after squatting over the female and not while standing. aNumber of observed acts according to the experimental
design on the 3 farms, bNumber of item occurrence/total number of observed acts
Table 5: Timing and the behavioral responses during mating of receptive and forced females
Time of mating and the
Receptive Held down by the male Deceived*
Time of mating
In the daytime
Males before mounting
Following the females
Smelling female’s genitalia
Extruding the gulla (soft palate)
Chasing the females
Biting the female’s stie
Lying down beside the females
Males during intromission
On the ground
On the female’s forearm
On the female’s forearm
Females after intromission
Biting the male’s face
Biting the male’s knee
+Means occurrence of a behavioral activity, *Deceived female occurs by the male who pretended to rest beside her, waited for her sleep then jumped over
suddenly in a mating trial
Fig 1. The behavioral responses of male camels during female resting in the daytime and at night.
Abdulmohsen, et al.
Emir. J. Food Agric ● Vol 30 ● Issue 8 ● 2018 713
females (Table 5). These observations were inconsistent
with Arthur et al. (1985) and Ahmed et al. (2018) who
reported that the sex ratio and the smaller female numbers
would not affect the reproductive efciency in camel herds.
The females that denied mating in the daytime would be
forced into mating or deceived at night. Temporary alliance
usually occurs between the compatible breeding pairs then
gentle biting or kissing occurs without evil consequences.
During mating, the forced or deceived females moved
frequently, grunted loudly and tried to get rid of the males
by biting his knee or face (Figure 2&4). Thereby, improper
intromission was recorded because of the females’ lack of
orientation and struggling while males were trying to x
them by pressing the females’ forearms (Figure 4). The
dominant male was focusing during mating the receptive
female, with extended knee joint, and his feet were on the
ground (Figure 5). The female was steady and enabled the
proper intromission. The previous observations agree with
In the small dromedary camel herds, the main cause of
the noises heard at night is the sexual harassment of the
deceived or forced females because of the unsatised
male desire. Individual isolation of the male camels is
necessary in case of small camel herds with a few female
numbers. This would also help if the females were neither
in heat nor pregnant. The receptive females should be
taken individually to the male yard to enable peaceful
mating. If the forced or deceived females were pregnant,
the straining could lead to abortion. On the other hand,
biting the knee joint could result in arthritis with its evil
The authors are thankful and would like to express their
gratitude to the Deanship of Scientic Research, at KFU
for the nancial support given to the research project
Mohamad Abdulmohsen formed the idea, participated
in animal observation, designed the experiment and
shared in writing the manuscript. Salah Abdulaziz
Al-Shamiparticipated in the observation, performed
the statistical analysis and shared in writing. Saad Al-
Sultanparticipated in the observation, collected the data,
and shared in writing. Marzouk Al-Ekna wrote the results
andrevised the manuscript.
Fig 4. The male is trying to x the forced female underneath.
Fig 2. Forced females are biting the males' knee joints.
Fig 3. The receptive female stands still to the male (on the left) and
covers the reluctant male expressing her desire for mating (on the right).
Fig 5. Focused male during mating of the receptive female (note
the extended forelegs on the ground).
Abdulmohsen, et al.
714 Emir. J. Food Agric ● Vol 30 ● Issue 8 ● 2018
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