10 Cool Facts about Camel Spiders (Solifugids)

Learn 10 cool facts about camel spiders (solifugids) from Jungle Bob in this Howcast video.

I’ve been a reptile and amphibian enthusiast all my life, since I was a young child and got into invertebrates later on in life, tarantulas, scorpions certainly being the available animals in the pet world. And then when the Iraq conflict started, a new type of arachnid was introduced to me and the United States. And that is the solafugid. That is its real name. It has a million little nicknames, the most common ones are camel spiders and/or wind scorpions, sometimes sun spiders. A lot of legends about these animals were perpetuated by the internet when a couple of our guys in uniform were stationed in Iraq and came across these in the desert.

That’s where that particular species came from. Then unfortunately, the urban legends started. It started with one G.I. holding three of them clustered together on the barrel of a gun, and the perspective of the camera shot made it look like they were three feet long. And they’re not. They don’t get more than four or five, maybe six inches for a large one. And since I’ve studied them I’ve found there’s over 1,000 species of these throughout the world. They’re centered certainly Middle East and those types of areas, but we even have them here in the United States. Arizona and New Mexico we have solafugids running around. They’re also confusing because their two pedipalps here on the top look like legs. These two long, elongated pieces in the front are not two extra legs. Tarantulas have them, too. They’re shorter. But it looks like he has ten legs. He doesn’t. He has eight legs. He’s an arachnid species. The scary part about the animal, though, is its jaws. He has an incredible pair of pinchers here on both sides.

And I’m going to take a little care here and pick this guy up for you. Easy does it, fellow. They actually reciprocate back and forth almost like a saw. So when he grabs onto his prey, which is predominately insects but he’ll also eat a small mouse or anything he can get his mouth on, he saws back and forth, and pulls pieces of it out. He takes all the blood out of it. He sucks it into this body. And it just almost disappears as he’s eating it. It takes a long time for him to do it, but it’s a very violent-looking act. All these crazy nicknames that the solafugid gets derive from its other characteristics. Camel spiders. Oh, easy. Camel spider they call it because it’s often found adhered to a camel’s skin because of the furriness of the camel. It can grab on, and it will act almost in a tick-like manner and will bite the underside of the camel. Legends are it can jump six feet high and grab onto the camel. We don’t really know that it can do that. But it does find its way underneath the camel’s belly. G.I.’s laying in a sleeping bag in the middle of a desert, he certainly has invited himself in, and many a person in the armed forces has a solafugid bite. It’s also called the wind scorpion or the sun spider. It’s not a spider. It’s not a scorpion.

But these names get confused. And why does it do that? Well, I was told by people right here in my store that this scorpion was chasing me through the desert. What it is is it wants to be out of the sun, so it’s staying in the person’s shadow. And as they walk away, it moves pretty quickly. It moves along in the shadow and gives the illusion that it’s chasing you across the desert. So a lot of myths about these animals, not many of them true. Do your homework. For a captive animal, pretty fairly straightforward to keep. Desert environment. All animals need moisture, so it needs a spot where he can get some moisture. It doesn’t eat a lot, but you got to feed him once a week or so. But unfortunately, a very short-lived animal. Three to five years would be about a life span for these.

And once you get one that this big, he’s already of an undetermined amount of age. None of them come from captive collections currently. They’re all wild-caught animals. So therefore, you’re getting one that’s already old, so you’re not going to have the pet for very, very long. Definitely a specialty animal. For anybody who’s interested in something extremely bizarre, the camel spider or wind scorpion or solafugid would be a great candidate. For those who are squeamish, I’d stick to frogs.