The Truth and Myths of Camel Spiders

Myths about camel spiders often describe running speeds of 25 MPH and how they grow to the size of humans. Learn more where these legends come from and where the truth lies.

By Jeremy HillpotJun 10, 2023 1:00 PM
Camel spiders
Camel spider (Credit: Carlos Mora Rubio/Shutterstock)


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The camel spider, also recognized as a sun spider and wind scorpion, is one of the most unique arachnids of all time and holds captivating secrets — like the fact that it isn't even a spider, for one.

The spine-chilling legends of the camel spider are so nightmarish that the faint of heart may want to hit the back button and take a coffee break immediately — because we’re about to dive into some of the goriest spider tales you’ve ever heard.

Crazy Myths About Camel Spiders

The stories we’re about to share aren’t exactly true, but some of them are based on enough truth to scare the living daylights out of you. Prepare yourself as we explore the worst of these myths.

According to legend, the Middle Eastern camel spider is the most enormous spider you’ve ever seen. Stories tell of these spiders growing up to half the size of a human, hunting and killing large prey — even going after humans and camels.

How Big Is a Camel Spider?

The legend says these spiders position themselves under the belly of a camel, leap into the air, slice open the abdomen, disembowel it and eat the stomach while the camel is still alive. Another legend says that camel spiders lay their eggs in the skin around the abdomen of camels. When the babies hatch, they bore into the digestive tract of the camel and eat it from the inside out.

These gruesome stories inspire images of ravenous killer spiders covered in blood, guts and gore. They’re patently false, but there are a few hints of truth in them.

Camel spiders are a real species of arachnids. They aren’t even close to being half the size of a human, but this doesn't mean they're not terrifyingly large. Growing to approximately 6 inches (15 cm) in length and weighing about 2 ounces (56 grams), they’re some of the biggest arachnids in the world. To put the sun spider into perspective, that’s about half the size of the Goliath birdeater spider, a tarantula that reaches up to 11 inches in length and weighs up to 6 ounces.

As you may have already guessed, camel spiders do not eat camel stomachs or lay their eggs in the skin of camels either. They do however live in the Middle East. They also crawl around the deserts of the United States and Mexico.

Read More: 10 Animal Names That Have You Fooled

How Fast Is a Camel Spider?

Another myth about camel spiders is that they run as fast as humans (some say sprinting at speeds of 25 MPH) — and they will chase you down if you try to run away. Does this mean that desert nomads in the Middle East could find themselves the victims of a gruesome snack attack as soon as a camel spider gets the urge?

There’s no running away from these cheetah-like arachnids, so you’d have to wrestle it to the ground and hope you come out on top.

Camel spiders are fast, and they might chase a human who runs away — but it’s not what you think. According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), they’re simply chasing your shadow. Camel spiders are primarily nocturnal and instinctively flee from the sun.

Also, Camel spiders do not eat people. Instead, they prefer hunting smaller game such as insects, lizards, rodents, birds and rabbits.

Read More: 5 Unique Ways Animals Avoid Getting Eaten

Does a Camel Spider Scream?

Allegedly, camel spiders have something like a blood-curdling battle cry — a loud screaming noise that they make while chasing down large animals, humans and other prey. And for spider bites, some say that the bite from a wind scorpion leaves a gaping, gangrenous hole all the way to the bone.

Camel spiders do make a sound. But they don't scream (exactly). Instead, they make a hissing and buzzing sound due to an entomological phenomenon called stridulation. The hissing happens when arachnids rub their body parts together. It’s a little bit like the sound a pair of corduroy pants make when you're speed-walking.

Read More: Humans Are the Only Animals That Cry — And We Don’t Know Why

Is a Camel Spider Venomous?

Finally, camel spiders aren't venomous. They have sharp and powerful spider jaws — also called chelicerae — and they’ll bite you if provoked. This can result in swelling and severe bleeding, but there’s no venom involved. Remember: At a mere 6 inches in width, a camel spider isn’t large enough to put your life at risk.

Although the most horrifying legends about camel spiders aren't true, we think they’re scary enough as they are — all 6 inches and 2 ounces of them.

Read More: The Bewitching Dance of Australia's Peacock Spiders

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