Location: Zambia, Africa
December 8, 2010 11:08 pm
I encountered this aggressive spider in Zambia, Africa, in October. It lunged out at me from within my suitcase. I quickly sidestepped it and instinctively killed it by giving it a swift kick. I took a picture of it next to a British ten pence coin, which was all I had near me at the time. (A ten pence coin is roughly the size of a US quarter, or 24mm in diameter.) I’d estimate the length of the spider’s body to be about 60mm from head to thorax. It seemed to only have 2 eyes. One of the local villagers saw the picture and told me that the spider was poisonous, and that a bite could cause my leg to swell up twice its size (or more). Can you identify this specimen?
Though we are tagging your posting as Unnecessary Carnage, we want you to understand that we do not blame you for your instinctual reaction, but we want to educate you should you ever again encounter a Solifugid, commonly called a Sun Spider or Wind Scorpions, or in the Middle East, a Camel Spider. Tropical specimens can grow quite large. Despite the common name, Solifugids are neither Spiders nor Scorpions, but they are members of the same taxonomic class, the Arachnids. Unlike Spiders and Scorpions, Solifugids do not possess venom, so they are not poisonous. Despite what you have been told by the local villager, if you are bitten, the bite will not result in a swollen leg unless it gets infected. Solifugids are aggressive predators that are capable of eating small vertebrates including lizards and possibly small mice. They have amazing jaws that open in multiple directions, and we would not want to be bitten by a large Solifugid.