Sand Spiders


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Are Sand Spiders Desert Demons?

Because many people are afraid of spiders, the sand spiders in desert places have really gotten a reputation in recent years!  Many people have seen the somewhat "famous" photograph (shown below) that has circulated on the internet - along with all sorts of spine tingling horror stories.  Well, as is often the case to those kind of stories, there are tiny bits of truth about sand spiders mixed in with a healthy dose of made up folklore!      

Sand Spiders Desert

The creatures shown in these pictures are not really spiders at all.  Rather, they are a part of the family of solphugids which are more closely related to a scorpion than a spider.  Nevertheless, they do have the appearance of a spider, and hence the names "camel spider" and "sand spider".  There have been many falsehoods circulated about these creatures, so rather than try to rehash all of this wrong information, let's take a look at some facts about these desert creatures. 

  1. They are fast, but not that fast - perhaps 5 - 10 MPH which is fast enough!
  2. They can grow to a good size (perhaps 6" or so).
  3. They are not poisonous/venomous.
  4. They don't like to chase people per se, but they do like to run into shadows.
  5. They do bite and it can be very painful to the victim.
  6. They are found in deserts such as found in the Middle East like Iraq.
  7. They also exist in deserts of the SW United States and Mexico.
  8. They are not typically jumping creatures.
  9. They do not eat on camels - they just co-exist with camels in the desert.
  10. Sand spiders are silent and don't "scream" as some myths have fabricated.

As you've probably already figured out, the sand spiders Iraq picture above is not quite accurate in it's appearance.  True, it's probably a real picture, but the way that it turned out is a bit deceptive.  You will notice that the perspective of the picture makes the camel spiders in the picture appear to be nearly as big as the man's leg in the background.  In reality, the camera is just very close to the sand spiders and so they appear much larger than real life.  If you look at the upper, right hand corner of the photograph, you will see part of a man's hand and sleeve.  This will give you a little better perspective of the real size.  Yes, they are big, but not THAT big!  Below is a picture of a large sand spiders desert crawler giving you a better perspective as it sits on a ping pong paddle.   

Sand Spiders Iraq

Because many people have a fear of spiders (arachnophobia), it is no wonder that some of these pictures and myths have captured the imaginations of many people.  Next time you read one of these blood curdling stories of sand spiders in Iraq or elsewhere, then you might be better prepared to spot the fake information about these interesting sand spiders desert creatures.