Camel spiders are also known as sun spiders, wind scorpions or solifuges. They are arachnids in the order solifugae. These spiders became popular known during the Iraq war of 2003 when they were purported to be attack sleeping soldiers and eating them. They are known scientifically as galeodesarabs and they are carnivores. They have been associated with myths that paint them as blood thirsty hunter spiders that attack humans because of their carnivorous nature.
These myths were fostered by Middle Eastern folklore about spiders almost the size of a human being with the running speed of human beings and an appetite for large mammals. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The camel spider
This species of spiders is only the size of a tea cup so you can expect it to grow up to six inches in length. It weighs only two ounces and although it looks menacing it is completely incapable of consuming a whole human being.
Having said that, the camel spider is a prolific predator which targets much smaller prey like lizards, rodents and small birds. To human beings they impart a painful bite but that is the scope of their threat to humanity. They feature massive jaws which they use to grab their prey and systematically chomp into them in a sawing motion. They are not venomous but their digestive juices can turn their prey into pulp in a short span of time. They then use a sucking motion to consume the remains of their victim.
Their jaws make up a third of their total body length of six inches. You can distinguish them by their mouthy feeding parts. Because there are various species of this creature do not be surprised to encounter smaller versions of the same. They are very fast and also live a fast paced life within a short period of time. This means they are born, mate and die rapidly compared to other arachnids.
Where are they found?
Camel spiders are native to very dry and hot regions which explains why they feature in Middle Eastern stories and were a source of terror for soldiers in Iraq. But they are not only specific to the Middle East and can be found in dry and hot climates all around the world.
In Africa, they can be found in the Kalahari Desert where they have been dubbed the Kalahari Ferrari because of their speeds. They can move at speeds of up to 10 miles per hour which is double the walking pace of a human being.