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Camel Spider is an unpredictable animal. Few of the desert dwellers are so perplexing with their behavior and look like aliens. These arachnids have a bad reputation that is exaggerated by myths, superstitions, and folk legends. But in fact, they are adorable and mysterious animals, whose lifestyle is very different from other species. As frightening in appearance and behavior as Camel Spiders are, fortunately, they are mostly harmless to humans and pets.

Origin of the Species

The order includes more than 1000 described species in 153 genera. Despite their common names, they are neither true scorpions (Scorpiones, nor true spiders (Araneae). The debate over their affiliation continues by experts. Are they really spiders or scorpions? As long as they remain in this classification, but future research may lead to status changes).

This group of arachnids has various common names, Phalanges, Solifugae, Wind Scorpions, Sun Spiders, etc. These distinctive creatures have several common names in English and African, many of which include the term “spider” or even “scorpion”. Although in their biological characteristics, these animals are something in between scorpions and spiders.Camel Spider: Species Profile 13

The only obvious similarity they share with spiders is that they have eight legs. The Camel spider does not have venom glands and does not pose a threat to humans, although they are very aggressive, move quickly, and can cause a painful bite. The Latin name “Solifugae” comes from “Fugere” (to run; fly, run away) and “sol” (sun). The oldest fossil of the order – Protosolpuga carbonaria, was discovered in the USA in 1913 in the deposits of the Late Carboniferous. Also, specimens are found in Burmese, Dominican, Baltic amber, and Cretaceous layers in Brazil.

Fun fact: The term “Sun Spider” is applied to those species that are active during the day. To avoid the heat, they throw themselves from shadow to shadow – often this is the shadow of a person. As a result, a disturbing impression is created that they are persecuting a person.

Appearance and Features

The spider’s body is divided into two parts:

  • prosoma (shell);
  • opisthosoma (abdominal cavity).

Prosoma consists of three sections:

  • propeltidium (head) contains chelicerae, eyes, pedipalps, and the first two pairs of legs;
  • mesopeltidium contains the third pair of legs;
  • metapelptidium contains the fourth pair of legs.

Outwardly, the spider appears to have 10 legs, but in reality, the first pair of appendages are very highly developed pedipalps that are used for various functions such as drinking, catching, feeding, mating, and climbing. Only the three rear pairs of legs are primarily used for running. The most unusual feature is the unique organs at the tips of the legs. Some spiders can use these organs to climb vertical surfaces.

The first pair of legs are thin and short and are used as tactile organs (tentacles). The Camel Spider lacks a kneecap (a leg segment found in spiders, scorpions, and other arachnids). The fourth pair of legs is the longest. Most species have 5 pairs of ankles, while juveniles only have 2-3 pairs. They were thought to be sensory organs for detecting vibrations in the soil.Camel Spider: Species Profile 14

The body length varies from 10-70 mm, and the leg span is up to 160 mm. The head is large, supports large, strong chelicerae (jaws). The propeltidium (carapace) is lifted to accommodate the enlarged muscles that control the chelicerae. Because of this sublime structure, they are referred to as Camel Spiders. The chelicera has a fixed dorsal toe and a movable ventral toe, both armed with cheliceral teeth to crush prey. These teeth are one of the features used in identification.

Some species have very large central eyes. They can recognize shapes and are used to hunt and observe enemies. These eyes are remarkable for their internal anatomy. In many species, lateral eyes are absent, and where they are at all, they are only rudimentary. The abdomen is soft and expandable, which allows the animal to eat large amounts of food. The body of many species is covered with bristles of various lengths, some up to 50 mm, resembling a shiny hairball. Many of these bristles are tactile sensors.


These arachnids are considered endemic indicators of desert biomes and live in very dry conditions. The hotter the better for them. Camel Spiders survive in remote places, where only a handful of living things can live. Their versatility about their habitat has certainly been the driving force behind their lives for millions of years. The only surprising thing is that they do not live in Australia at all. Although this mainland is a very hot place, none of the species has been found there. The flexibility of the habitat allows the spider to inhabit some meadows and forest areas as well. But even in such regions, they will look for the warmest places to live. In Europe, they are found in Spain, Portugal, Greece.Camel Spider: Species Profile 15

Interesting fact: There are 12 families, 140 genera, and 1,075 species of Camel Spider in the world. And in southern Africa, six families, 30 genera, and 241 species have been recorded. Thus, 22% of the world’s stock of all Camel Spider species is found in the southern part of the African continent. North Cape (81 species) and Namibia have the largest number of species. The Orange River does not restrict its distribution.

There are over 200 Solifugae species in the New World. Only two families (Eremobatidae and Ammotrechidae) are found in North America. At least three species occasionally migrate to southern Canada. However, the zenith of spider diversity in the Middle East.


The insect never misses an opportunity to eat, even when the arachnid is not hungry. The animal accumulates body fat to survive the times when food becomes scarce. Camel Spiders eat both live insects and those that have been found dead. They can consume snakes, lizards, rodents, beetles, and termites. However, what they eat often depends on the place and time of year. They do not seem to have a problem with food, which is smaller in size. Camel Spiders mainly go hunting at night.Camel Spider: Species Profile 16

All species of this spider are carnivorous or omnivorous. They are aggressive hunters and voracious eaters of everything that moves. The prey is found and captured by pedipalp legs, and killed and cut into pieces by chelicera. Then the prey is liquefied, and the liquid enters the mouth. Although they do not usually attack humans, their chelicerae can penetrate human skin and cause painful bites.

The Camel Spider diet consists of:

  • termites;
  • spiders;
  • scorpions;
  • small terrestrial arthropods;
  • snake;
  • rodents;
  • various insects;
  • small reptiles;
  • dead birds.

Spiders can hunt other predators such as bats, toads, and insectivores. Some species are exclusively predators. Some individuals settle in the shade and ambush their prey. Others catch the victim and eat it while it is still alive, vigorously tearing apart the flesh with jerky movements of powerful jaws. Also, cannibalism is noted in the spider, they always attack their relatives, and the strongest wins.

Features of Character and Lifestyle

Camel Spiders are mostly nocturnal, but there are diurnal species that are usually brighter in color with light and dark stripes along their entire length, while nocturnal species are tan and often larger than the daytime species. Watching the Camel Spider immediately reveals their crazy speed. Because of her, they got the name “Scorpion-Wind”. They move over rough terrain or soft sand, which causes most other animals to get stuck or slow down. Camel Spiders are also surprisingly good climbers.

Camel Spiders are well adapted to arid environments. Covered with fine hairs, they are insulated from the heat of the desert. Sparse, longer bristles act as sensors to help locate prey when touched. Thanks to special receptors, they literally seek out information about the substrate through which the animal passes and can even detect underground prey at a shallow depth. This is one type of spider that is difficult to spot. Not only do they have great camouflage, but they also love to hide. They can be found in any dark corner or under piles of boards or rocks.

Fun fact: Camel Spider is one of the fastest. It can travel at a speed of 16.5 km per hour. But, usually, he moves much slower, if he is not in danger, and he does not have to hastily leave the danger zone.

The spider is difficult to get rid of due to the many hiding places they find in the house. Some families were forced to flee their homes after all attempts to successfully eradicate these Camel Spiders failed. Some species may make a hissing sound when they sense they are in danger. This is a warning to be able to get out of a difficult situation.

Social Structure and Reproduction

Given their general aggressiveness, the question arises as to how spiders reproduce without killing each other. Indeed, the “approach phase” during courtship can be mistaken for an attempt at cannibalism. The female can push the applicant away and run away or assume a submissive posture. The male grabs her by the middle of the body and massages her with his jaws, and also strokes her with pedipalps and the first pair of legs.Camel Spider: Species Profile 17

He can pick her up and carry her a short distance, or simply continue courting her at the initial point of contact. Eventually, he secretes a drop of sperm from his genital opening, presses it against his jaws, and uses his chelicera to force the sperm into the woman’s genital opening. Mating rituals vary among families and may involve direct or indirect sperm transfer.

Fun Fact: Camel Spiders live fast and die young. Their average lifespan is barely more than one year.

Then the female digs a burrow and lays eggs, and leaves them in the burrow. Lots can range from 20 to 264 eggs. Some species guard them until they hatch. The eggs hatch approximately eleven days after laying. The offspring go through eight ages before reaching adulthood. The transitional age is the interval between molts. Like all arthropods, Camel Spiders must periodically shed their exoskeleton to grow.

Natural Enemies of the Camel Spider

While Camel Spiders are most often considered voracious predators, they can also be an important addition to the diet of many animals found in arid and semi-arid ecosystems. Birds, small mammals, reptiles, and arachnids are among the animals registered as carnivores of spiders. Camel Spiders have also been observed to feed on each other.Camel Spider: Species Profile 18

Owls are probably the most common bird of prey hunting large Camel Spiders. Also, New World vultures and Old World larks and wagtails have been observed to prey on these arachnids. Also, the remains of chelicera were found in the droppings of the bustard. Several small mammals include Camel Spiders in their diet:

  • big-eared fox;
  • South African fox;
  • African civet;
  • black-backed jackal.

Spiders are the fourth most common prey for the Texas Striped Gecko (Coleonyx brevis), after termites, cicadas, and spiders. Some researchers claim that African reptiles feed on them, but this has not yet been confirmed.

Almost every story about the violent battles between Camel Spiders and scorpions is fiction. These messages are associated with human influence on the opposition of these animals, organized in special conditions. In the natural environment, the degree of their aggressiveness towards each other is unclear.


Camel Spiders have a frenetic lifestyle and are therefore not recommended as a pet. The nomadic lifestyle sometimes brings Camel Spiders to homes and other dwellings. There is no cause for alarm, so the arachnid can be placed in a container and taken outside. Not a single death has been recorded directly caused by the bite, but thanks to the strong muscles of their chelicera, they can make a proportionally large, lacerated wound in which infection can develop. Only one species, Rhagodes nigrocinctus, has venom, but its bite is not harmful to humans.

Fun fact: Camel Spider is generally believed to feed on living human flesh. The mythical story says that the creature injects some anesthetic poison into the open skin of a sleeping victim, and then greedily feeds on its flesh, as a result of which the victim wakes up with a gaping wound. However, these spiders do not produce a similar anesthetic, and like most creatures with a survival instinct, they do not attack prey larger than themselves, except in a defensive situation.