Scorpions Spiders Mites and Ticks: Arachnida
Camel Spider (galeodes Arabs): Species Accounts
Physical characteristics: Camel spiders are yellowish and have a leg span up to 4.7 inches (119 millimeters), but their bodies are only 2 inches (51 millimeters) long. Males are usually smaller and more slender than females and have longer legs. Both regions of the body are divided into segments. Their entire bodies are covered with hairlike bristles. They have two small eyes set on a small bump near the front of the body. Up to one-third of the body length consists of their pincherlike mouthparts. The long and slender leglike mouthparts, as well as the first pair of legs, look and function like antennae.
Geographic range: The camel spider lives in northern Africa and the Middle East.
Habitat: This species lives in sandy, hot, and dry habitats.
Diet: Camel spiders eat small mice, lizards, birds, amphibians, spiders, scorpions, and insects, especially termites. They use their large, powerful mouthparts to crush prey and drink water.
Behavior and reproduction: Camel spiders spend their days hiding beneath objects or in shallow burrows dug with their legs and mouthparts. They usually come out at night to hunt, locating prey with their leglike mouthparts on the ground or beneath the surface of the earth, through ground-level vibrations. Amazingly fast on their feet, camel spiders can run, in very short bursts, up to 20 inches (51 centimeters) per second, using only the back three pairs of legs.
In mating, the male roughly seizes the female with his legs and mouthparts, but he does not injure her. She becomes motionless, which prevents her from attacking the male and eating him. The male carries the female for a short distance, places her on her back, and begins stroking the underside of her abdomen. He then produces a sperm packet, picks it up in his mouth, and places it inside her body. Later, the female deposits up to 164 eggs in a deep burrow. The eggs hatch within a few days into nonmoving creatures that do not resemble the adults and do not feed. After their second molt, they begin to look more like adults, leave the burrow, and start to hunt.
Camel spiders and people: Camel spiders are not venomous and are not considered dangerous to people. In the past one hundred years soldiers stationed in North Africa and the Middle East have been fascinated by these large, fast arachnids, sometimes staging battles between captive animals.
Conservation status: This species is not endangered or threatened. ∎
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