Camels reproduce by copulating during breeding season after the males compete for dominance. After a gestation period of 12 to 14 months, the female gives birth to a calf that weighs up to 80 pounds and that can stand and walk a short time after being born.
Although camels reach sexual maturity when they are 2 or 3 years old, they begin to breed when they are 4 or 5. There is usually at least a two-year interval between calves.
During rutting season, males fight for the opportunity to mate, biting and trying to knock each other over. Increased testosterone levels cause males to grow an extension of their soft palate called a dulla. They use saliva with these red sacs that protrude from their mouths to make a mating call that attracts females. Their urine also contains pheromones that they wipe on their backs with their tails.
The male that asserts primary dominance mates with all the females in a group. Among ungulates, camels are unique in copulating while sitting on the ground.
When a female is ready to give birth, she moves apart from the group. The calf's front legs emerge first. When it is born, it has all its fur, and its eyes are open. The umbilical cord breaks when the calf falls to the ground. Although a calf begins to eat grass at 2 to 3 months, it continues to nurse until it is 1 to 2 years old.