Here you go -
1) What kind of camel spiders would be found in the desert west of
Riyadh, near the area of the temporary Lake Karrarah?
Rhagodidae (includes photo):
2) What are their features, habits, habitats? I understand they hunt
for gerbils, scorpions, etc at night, and that they can move at about
10 mph. I also understand that they bite but are not poisonous, and
they don't make any noise.
Solifugae (Camel Spider):
"These creatures are nocturnal, spending days in a tiny burrow or hole
which it has dug itself. They are unlikely to be encountered in the
colder months, but during the warmer period of the year they can
infest some areas. Members report being "overrun" by camel spiders
while camping in gravelly desert south of AI Wagan, on the Al Ain - Al
Liwa road. The spiders were apparently attracted by firelight and
moved extremely fast, running over soft sand, hard-packed gravel, or
bodies, with equal ease.
This species possesses no poison and relies on strength and speed. It
is carnivorous and lives on a diet of insects, spiders, scorpions and
small lizards. It is so voracious that it will feed until it is too
bloated to move effectively. Prey is held between the forceps of the
Chelicerae and chewed with such vigour that a solifugae eating a
beetle can be heard over a distance of several metres.
Camel spiders are not harmful to humans, and will only bite by
accident. However, they are very pugnacious and fight fiercely with
scorpions, centipedes and with each other. It is perhaps their speed
that has instilled more fear than they deserve."
note: see illustration.
Camel Spiders Solifugida
"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."
University of Minnesota Extension Service:
"Camel spiders are relatively large but counting their legs they are
closer to about five inches in size including the legs. In the U.S.
they have a body length up to over an inch long. They are pretty quick
for an invertebrate animal but do no move more than 10 m.p.h. They
also do not jump and are silent when traveling.
Camel spiders are predaceous, feeding mostly on insects and other
arthropods. It is possible for them to eat small lizards but nothing
larger. They do not attack camel stomachs and they are harmless to
3) Good pictures would be welcome!
(Phylum: Arthropoda, subphylum Chelicerata, class Arachnida)
:This group of arachnids has various common names most of which
suggest that they are spiders, which they are not. The only similarity
they share with spiders is the fact that they have eight legs.
Solifugids have no venom glands and are not a threat to man although
they are very aggressive and fast moving and can inflict a painful
SOLIFUGAE (photo and links)
SOLPUGIDS, WIND SCORPIONS, CAMEL SPIDERS or SUN SPIDERS
Additional Links of Interest:
Wildlife of Kuwait,
SOLIFUGIDS - CAPTIVE MANAGEMENT & IDENTIFICATION
Introduction to the Solifugid-Keeping Hobby:
I hope I've been able to find just what you are looking for. If you
have any questions, please post a clarification request *before*
closing/rating my answer and I'll be happy to reply.
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