Camel spiders are one of the fastest running arthropods. Although they have four pairs of legs, they run using only three pairs. The first pair of legs or pedipalpi are held up in front of them and used in a similar manner to the antennae of insects. They have very long, silky setae and are constantly moving in order to locate and pick-up prey. Despite their fearsome appearance and their strong bite, solifugids are unlikely to harm humans. In the past they were considered venomous and extremely dangerous but it is now thought that the only risk of injury resulting from them is caused by shock or infection following a bite. There is no evidence of venom in any part of their body.
Camel spiders are nocturnal predators of other arthropods including scorpions and are voracious feeders. Some species kill and feed on lizards and it is speculated that others kill mice and birds. They rely solely on their speed and stealth to catch their prey. In desert areas they are often attracted to lights at night in search of food and their appearance can cause alarm if they enter tents. It is rare to see them during the winter months in UAE and they are thought to hide or hibernate during cold periods.
Camel spiders in UAE
Despite their conspicuous appearance and size, little is known about these creatures and we are not even sure of their exact identity. There are probably three families of solifugids in UAE. These are the long-legged and sandy-coloured Galeodidae and Solpugidae, and the black-coloured Rhagodidae which has shorter legs and is better adapted for digging. The Galeodidae are commonly seen in sandy areas and the largest species is probably Galeodes arabs which is particularly hairy and bulky with limbs spanning up to 150mm. Other species probably occur in the mountains and Rhagodidae are thought to occur around Al Ain.