Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
When talking about a camel spider one thing to note is that this is not really a spider although it belongs the Arachnida Class, which includes spiders, mites, scorpions, etc. The terminology that is used to describe a camel spider is solifugae.
This terminology is derived from Latin, which means those that flee from the sun. A camel spider is also known as a jerrymugium, Sand Spider, Sun Scorpion, Sun Spider, and Wind Spider. Usually the camel spider is not aggressive towards humans but will only bite if it feels threatened.
What does a camel spider looks like?
A camel spider is usually brown, beige, or light gray and the length of their body depends on the species. Not counting the length of their legs, they can range in size from zero point four inches to six inches.
Their abdomen is segmented and round and they have long hair that can glisten in the sunlight that covers their legs. The most notable feature of the camel spider is its paired large jaws that like a combination of knife/pliers tools.
These jaws are used to grab and crush their prey and work in a sawing motion in order to chew their prey to pulp.
Where does a camel spider live?
Most of the camel spiders are found in arid, warm places in deserts around the world except Australia. They do not like sunlight so during this time they retreat to areas under rocks, other debris, and logs. They may also burrow into the sand or soil to escape the heat of the daytime. A camel spider is normally active at night.
General facts about a camel spider
- They eat scorpions, centipedes, other spiders, insects, and sometimes small lizards.
- A camel spider are not excellent jumpers but can crawl and climb up trees and over building walls when looking for prey
- The average life span is less than twelve months
- At night, they will run toward any light source including flashlights and campfires.
- Although they look as if they are chasing you they are just trying to walk in your shadow
- Their eyesight is very poor so in order to get around they rely on vibrations
- Camel spiders do not attack any creature larger than themselves, including humans
- Camel spiders move approximately ten miles per hour
- There are over two hundred and forty species of camel spiders in South Africa and over fifty species in the United States
Identification and Symptoms of a camel spider bite
One thing to note is that a camel spider bite is not poisonous. The best way to accurately identify that the spider bite is from a camel spider is to actually see what caused the bite. A camel spider bite will normally leave a fierce-looking wound. If you can identify that it was a camel spider you should also have the following symptoms.
- Intense pain — the bite is very painful due to their jaws which look and act like a crab’s pincers.
- Swelling — since there is trauma to the surrounding tissue it will start to swell because this is a normal inflammatory response of your body
- Bleeding — when being bitten by a camel spider you may have mild to intense bleeding but it depends on what size the camel spider was and where you were bitten
Sometimes the symptoms of a camel spider bite occur or are worse than normal because of an allergic reaction. You may also experience the symptom of having a nervous reaction to the camel spider bite. The symptoms can range from mild to serious.
Pictures of Camel Spider Bite
First aid and Treatment for a camel spider bite
Because a camel spider bite is non-venomous, or non-poisonous, you can treat it as you would any other similar wound. The greatest risk with a camel spider bite is developing an infection. You do not have to worry about getting immediate emergency treatment.
- The first thing that you need to do is wash the area with water and mild soap or a saline solution. Although there is no venom the bite can be full of bacteria, which can cause an infection later if it is not cleaned out. Make sure that you thoroughly clean the bite and the surrounding area.
- Once it is clean, dry it off
- Apply an antibiotic cream
- Depending on how big the bite area is you can apply a Band-Aid or a gauze bandage.
- You want to make sure that the bite area stays clean to avoid becoming a staph infection so change the bandage daily and check the area for any signs of infection. If there are signs of an infection, see any symptoms that are not characteristic of a camel spider bite, or you start to run a fever, seek immediate medical help.
- To help numb the area where you were bitten and help reduce swelling, once it has been cleaned out you can apply a cold compress for fifteen minutes.
- You can also take an over-the-counter oral antihistamine if you think you are having an allergic reaction to the bite.
- For the pain you can take an over-the-counter pain medication like Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
Although it is not necessary you may want to consider getting a tetanus shot, especially if it has been several years since you had one.
With a camel spider bite it should be totally healed in a couple of weeks unless there are complications. In extreme cases your physician may have to scrape the area where the camel spider bite is, which can be very painful.
If this happens, your physician may give you a prescription for an antibiotic cream and pain medication.