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Enormous Camel Spiders Do Chase People, But They’re Not After Us

Can it really run at 25 miles per hour? Does it scream? And is it even a spider? There are a lot of rumors surrounding these bizarre arachnids.


Rachael Funnell


Rachael Funnell

Digital Content Producer

Rachael is a writer and digital content producer at IFLScience with a Zoology degree from the University of Southampton, UK, and a nose for novelty animal stories.

Digital Content Producer

camel spider size

Most of the photos that show enormous camel spider size are playing with false perspectives. Image credit: Dmitry Fch /

About the size of your hand with a lot of legs and a huge set of mandibles, it’s unsurprising that camel spiders aren’t exactly welcomed with open arms by everybody. They aren’t actually spiders at all but a closely related group of arachnids that sits between them and scorpions. However, their tendency to chase people through the desert means a lot of people aren’t exactly hanging around to find out the details.

Google “camel spiders” and you’ll be met with websites claiming they can run 40 kilometers per hour (25 miles-per-hour) as they chase people. They’re also rumored to shriek and be venomous, but most of these details are just that – rumors. 


When it comes to camel spiders, you really don’t need fake news to make them interesting. These guys are impressive enough already.

Camel spider size

Camel spiders went viral during the Iraq war of 2003 as photos showed them hanging from troops’ uniforms stretching to almost half the length of a human. In reality, these images were the result of false perspective as sun spiders (Solifugae) like camel spiders can only reach around 5 centimeters (2 inches) in body length, writes Curator of Arachnids at the Burke Museum Rod Crawford (of course, the eight legs add a little more bulk).

Considering most household spiders’ body sizes are around a couple of centimeters, that’s pretty big, but they’re not the mammoth Skull-Island’esque organisms they’re made out to be online.

Camel spider bite

Get on its nerves and a camel spider will have no problem biting you and it can be painful, but it won’t harm you. Camel spiders have no venom so their bite force is what a human experiences. That said, they have got a trick up their sleeve when it comes to hunting insects, rodents, lizards, and small birds.

camel spider bite
Camel spiders don’t crawl inside the bodies of their namesake, but they do eat rodents, lizards, and birds. Image credit: Viktor Loki /

After sawing into their victim, camel spiders can bring up digestive fluids to help liquefy their food and make it more digestible. After all, why waste your energy on mastication when you can just slurp up a weevil smoothie?

Sprinting camel spiders?

While camel spiders can run very fast, they’re nowhere near the rumored 25mph you’ll see on Reddit. “The maximum speed cited in scientific sources is 10 miles per hour [16 km/h], and the only accurately measured speeds I could find were less than 1 mile per hour [1.6 km/h],” explained Crawford.

Camel spiders are also famous for chasing people, something that if you're not expecting it can understandably be quite alarming. The innocent truth is that they have no interest in you, only the shadow you're casting as their name Solifugae comes from the Latin for "those that flee from the sun". There are some great videos of camel spiders seeking shade in this way.

Screeching camel spiders?

As for the “screech” of the camel spider? It might be disappointing, but it probably isn’t surprising to learn that no, these arachnids cannot screech. They can, however, make a small sound that is used during aggression displays called stridulating. 


Stridulation is the act of making sound by rubbing together certain body parts and it’s a behavior seen perhaps most famously in crickets. Some of the Solifugae can stridulate using their chelicerae – the paired appendages in front of the mouth – but creates more of a clicking that a screech.

Frankly, we find the notion of a spider shrieking as it chases after you really, really funny, but if the thought has been putting you off these critters it’s hopefully reassuring to know that all they’re ever really trying to do is keep cool under the desert sun. With no venom, what’s the harm in lending a fellow Earth resident a little shade? Being a parasol is way cooler than being an arachnid killer.


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