Despite their name, camel spiders are neither camels nor spiders! So what are these unique animals and are they dangerous to humans?
Can camel spiders kill you?
Camel spiders have a painful bite, but they are not poisonous to humans and can’t kill you. In fact, camel spiders are not even venomous! People who have gotten bitten by camel spiders report that it was highly painful and the reason why their bite is so painful is that they have very large and powerful jaws.
While these creatures are only about six inches long in length, their jaw can make up about a third of their body! They use this strong jaw to grab their victims (which include insects, rodents, birds, and lizards – not humans) and turn them into a pulp by using a saw-like motion.
Some people believe that these animals are venomous because they have a special digestive fluid that they use to liquidly their victim’s flesh. This allows them to simply suck the remains of their prey up easily.
While a bite from a camel spider is not venomous and it cannot kill a human, since camel spiders have such strong jaws, they can leave a sizable wound that would need to be treated by a professional in order to prevent an infection from forming.
What are camel spiders?
So what exactly are these interesting creatures? Camel spiders have a few other names- they can also be referred to as Egyptian giant solpugids, sun spiders, wind spiders, and wind scorpions. They are separate from spiders and scorpions, but they are a member of the arachnid family of invertebrates (like spiders and scorpions).
Camel spiders are not that big – most camel spiders have a body length (not including the longer legs) of only about two inches long. Their abdomen is segmented into ten separate parts. Camel spiders are known for their large “chelicerae” which are the mouthpieces in arthropods (the group of animals such as arachnids, insects, and crustaceans). The chelicerae are strong and they resemble the pincher on a crab.
Like true spiders, camel spiders do have eight legs, but if you look at a picture of these animals, you might be confused because it looks like there are more! They have four pairs of “true legs” and one pair of pedipalps (which look like legs and are the first set of “legs” on their body). These pedipalps are just another set of appendages that arthropods have.
Do camel spiders chase humans?
There are a lot of myths surrounding camel spiders, but this one is one of the more popular ones. It may appear that camel spiders are chasing people, but instead, they are chasing the shade. Camel spiders love the shade and they may enjoy resting in the shade of a person while they are standing or sitting still.
But then, if the person walks or runs away, the camel spider may follow in order to stay in the shade, giving them the appearance that they are chasing them.
Why are camel spiders called “camel spiders?”
Camel spiders are often mistaken as spiders because they have a similar appearance to spiders – with their eight legs and small bodies, camel spiders look like true spiders. The camel part of their name comes from an old myth. Rumor has it that camel spiders jump up from the ground and grab onto the stomach of a camel from underneath and then proceed in eating their stomach.
Another old myth said that camel spiders would eat the stomach of a camel from the inside out. Because of this rumor, they got the name of “camel spiders!”
But this rumor is completely untrue! Camel spiders do not eat camels or their stomachs’. This rumor might have come from the fact that camel spiders may chill under a standing camel in order to take advantage of their shade!
Where do camel spiders live?
Camel spiders like to live in hot and dry areas such as deserts and scrublands. They can be found in deserts in the Middle East and in deserts in North America- such as in the southwestern portion of the United States and into parts of Mexico.
In these areas, camel spiders will hide in between rocks or under logs during the hot days, and then come out at night and hunt when it is cooler.