First off, lets talk about a few myths about the camel spider
The camel spider has garnered itself a bad reputation due to various viral images showing giant spiders roaming around the deserts of the Middle East. While they aren’t an animal you really want to cuddle with, most of what you know about the camel spider is probably wrong:
1. They are a spider and they are so big they can eat camels!
Contrary to what its name suggests, it’s not actually a spider, and it doesn’t actually eat camels. The Camel spider is in the Order “Solifugae” which means “those who flea from the sun” in Latin. Camel spiders are arachnids, but are not spiders. All spiders are arachnids, but not all arachnids are spiders. While camel spiders appear to have 10 legs, they actually only have 8, which makes them an arachnid. The two extra “legs” are actually sensory organs called pedipalps and helps the camel spider find its prey.
(Another common name for the camel spider is the wind scorpion…..but they aren’t scorpions either!)
2. They are venomous, bloodthirsty beasts!
The camel spider has garnered itself quite the reputation from viral internet articles and images. Photos of the “Giant camel spider” began circulating in 2003 during the Iraq war. Doctored photos of soldiers standing next to and holding child sized creatures are just that, doctored, fake, not real, phony. These photos have circulated for over 10 years, perpetuating the myths associated with camel spiders. However, camel spiders are carnivores, but have no interest in eating camel or humans. They prefer to eat small bugs, lizards, and sometimes even birds.
For many years, they had been painted as a venomous predator out to get camels and soldiers, but this simply isn’t true. They still are quite amazing predators though.
While the creatures are definitely large, they are by no means the size of a human, as some articles may suggest.
General facts about the camel spider:
Now that you know what NOT to think about the camel spider, lets talk about a few facts about this arachnid:
1. The “biggest camel spider in the world” isn’t that big
According to nationalgeographic.com, the camel spider’s leg span can get up to 6 inches. While this is still large enough to inspire nightmares to those with arachnophobia, this is by no means as large as the internet makes these guys out to be. Their genuine anatomy is not as scary as you may think. The photo featured below shows the approximate size you can expect a full grown camel spider to reach. There is actually a full-fledged documentary by National Geographic telling you all about the camel spider.
2. Camel spider bites suck, but they aren’t venomous
While the camel spider isn’t venomous, it’s bite is still very, very painful. While they pose no real danger to humans, they are vicious predators that can eradicate insects, rodents, lizards, and sometimes even small birds.
This being said, camel spiders make up for their lack of venom with power and speed. They have been recorded running at speeds of almost 10mph, making them one of the fastest arachnids in the world.
If you ever find yourself unlucky enough to be bitten by a camel spider, simply disinfect the wound. Since it has no venom, the only threat it may pose will be from a bacterial infection. Many people assume that the camel spider is venomous by mistaking their teeth, which are used mostly for cutting, as fangs.
3. Are they dangerous? Ehh…..
As with many animals, a camel spider is only dangerous if provoked. They are not out to get people, or anything other than their prey for that matter. While videos and online articles suggest they are incredibly dangerous, science will prove these viral videos wrong with facts and figures.
Not many people will come into contact with the camel spider in their day to day life unless they live in the desert. If you live in an arid environment where you may expect the camel spider to live, simply make it a point to not disrupt the animal if you see it. It is not instinctively aggressive toward anything they don’t want to hunt.
4. Where do camel spiders live? Perhaps near you!
Camel spiders are primarily found in Middle Eastern desert areas, but they have also been known to live in southwestern areas of the United States. They are most common to the following regions:
Camel spiders are definitely most famously found in Iraq. This may be one of the only factual aspects of all the rumors surrounding the creature. Since they like warm, dry environments, camel spiders are very common in this area.
Arizona, Colorado, and California
As with Iraq, certain southwestern states are home to the camel spider. They have officially been documented to live in Arizona, Colorado, and California. If you live in one of these states, you can expect to see the camel spider only at night, as they are primarily nocturnal creatures.
And for your enjoyment, here’s a camel spider fight