Black Barred Camel-cart

Black Barred Camel-Cart
A typically rural/suburban cart, the field habitat of the Black Barred Camel-Cart is slowly being encroached upon by big box stores and residential development.

Black Barred Camel-cart

Classification: B/1 or possibly A/9

Earlier this week I spotted a cart in an all too common situation. Clearly disturbed by the noise of the near constant traffic of Comox Road this Black Barred Camel-cart was attempting to roll its way towards the quiet serenity of nearby farm fields.

Black Barred Camel-Cart
Distressed by loud noises and fast moving vehicles, this Black Barred Camel-cart was attempting to reach the safety of a farm field.

While this species of Camel-cart does appear quite intimidating up close it is in reality a “gentle giant.” Usually solitary in nature, these wild carts can be found in suburban fields close to large shopping malls where they capitalize on the edge habitat between urban development and former farmland. An opportunistic species, they appear to be doing very well across Canada and occasional sightings in rural fields indicates that their range is growing. There is some unsubstantiated speculation that these carts are the true creators of crop circles.

Researchers are unsure about what both baskets of this gorgeous gray and black barred cart are used for. Perhaps they feed on the seeds of grasses, gleaned from the baskets as they roll sedately through overgrown lots and abandoned farmland. The double basket system may aid in the digestion of tough natural foods which are much harder to process than the detritus that makes up the diets of many urban carts.

Black Barred Camel-Cart
The field marks that give this cart its name – a strong thick black bar behind the upper basket. Females also show a yellow stripe on the upper bar.

The Black Barred Camel-cart is a very easy cart to identify. Look for the strong black bar directly behind the upper basket. Females differ from males in that they have a noticeable yellow stripe on the upper bar. The dull gray colour is diagnostic as few other similar species have the same colouration. Of course, the profile of the cart is also distinctive – as in all camel-carts, the dual basket is an easy way to separate this cart to genus. Black Barred Camel-carts are much larger than other species of camel-carts and have an overall “feeling” of robustness in comparison.

I watched long enough to make sure that this cart was able to wend its way slowly from the road edge to the farmland beyond. Soon all that could be seen of its presence was a beaten down trail of grass.

This is the thirteenth species account of the Vancouver Island Shopping Carts series. Julian Montague at The Stray Shopping Cart Project has developed a method of classifying stray carts that might be of interest to those wanting to learn more about species of carts in their own area. Researchers should also consult Rock, Paper, Lizard and for detailed species accounts of Lower Mainland/Vancouver carts. More photos of carts can be found at Wild Shopping Carts.


  1. Interesting how our Oregon Spotted Carts look just a bit different. Love the maidenhair banner by the way.

  2. Thanks Mike – I’m hoping that we’ll be able to take a family trip south sometime this summer to do some birding, botanizing, and perhaps some wild cart searching! Would be great to add some American carts to my life list!

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