Sand Puppy: All You Need to Know in a Quick Guide

The sand puppy, an intriguing creature, has captured the interest of many animal enthusiasts. As you delve deeper into the world of this fascinating animal, it’s essential to gather information to gain an understanding of their behavior and habitat. This article will shed light on various aspects related to the sand puppy, providing you with all the necessary knowledge.

You’ll learn about the unique characteristics that distinguish the sand puppy from other species. In doing so, we will explore their physical attributes, environmental needs, and how they adapt to their surroundings. These details will paint a complete picture of their existence within the animal kingdom.

Moreover, examples and comparisons will be shared to give you a better grasp of the sand puppy’s distinct features and how they compare to other creatures in their ecosystem. So, sit back and enjoy the journey as you explore the fascinating world of the sand puppy.

Understanding Sand Puppies

Species of Sand Puppy

Sand puppies are fascinating creatures that belong to the group known as solpugids. They are more commonly called “wind scorpions” or “sun spiders” due to their unique appearance and behavior. In this section, you will learn some interesting facts about these fascinating creatures.

Sand puppies are not true scorpions or spiders, but rather a separate group of arachnids. They have eight legs, like other arachnids, and distinctive, large jaws that they use for capturing prey. These creatures are usually found in arid environments such as deserts, where they burrow into the sand.

Some key features of sand puppies:

  • They are nocturnal, so you’ll mostly see them active during the night.
  • They have a voracious appetite and feed on insects and other small creatures.
  • Sand puppies have a uniquely-shaped body with a large, forward-facing head and a slender, elongated abdomen.

Now, let’s compare solpugids with other common names:

Common Name Solpugids – Sand Puppy Scorpion Spider
Leg Count 8 8 8
Body Segments 2 (head, abdomen) 2 (cephalothorax, abdomen) 2 (cephalothorax, abdomen)
Jaws Large, crushing jaws Small or none Chelicerae (fangs)

Remember that, despite their names, sand puppies are not related to scorpions or spiders. They are unique creatures that have adapted well to their environment.

Behaviour and Lifestyle

Likening to Dogs

Sand puppies, also known as sand crickets or potato bugs, display behaviors similar to dogs. For instance, they are known for their playful nature and quick movements. An example of such dog-like behavior is how they wag their abdomen, much like a dog wags its tail.

Another characteristic that likens them to dogs is their ability to dig. Sand puppies are skilled diggers and use this ability to build their homes as well as to search for food.

Habitat and Feeding Habits

Sand puppies are commonly found in sandy environments like beaches, where they burrow in the sand to create their habitats. They feed on various tiny organisms and plant material that can be found in the sand, including ants, spiders, and other insects. Their digging abilities come in handy while searching for food.

Here’s a comparison table to help you understand their feeding habits in relation to other familiar creatures:

Creature Diet Habitat
Sand Puppy Ants, spiders, insects, plant material Sandy environments, beaches
Ant Seeds, insects, plant material Soil, under rocks, trees
Snake Mice, frogs, eggs Various, depending on species
Spider Insects, small invertebrates Webs, under leaves, ground

To sum it up:

  • Sand puppies resemble dogs in their behaviors and digging abilities.
  • They live in sandy environments, such as beaches, and feed on ants, spiders, and other insects.
  • Other similar creatures like ants and snakes have different diets and habitats, as shown in the comparison table provided.

Physical Characteristics

The sand puppy, also known as solpugids, wind scorpion, sun spider, or potato bugs, is an interesting creature with unique physical characteristics. They are not actually spiders or scorpions, but belong to a separate order called Solifugae.

Their body size varies, ranging from 1 to 3 inches in length. Unlike their spider and scorpion relatives, they have 10 legs instead of 8. While not venomous, they possess large, powerful jaws that can deliver a painful bite.

The sand puppy is well-adapted to desert environments. They have a distinct appearance with a few notable features:

  • Large, forward-facing eyes for excellent vision
  • Two long sensory organs called pedipalps that help them navigate and find prey
  • Stout, segmented torsos covered with bristles or hair-like structures

It’s worth mentioning that these creatures are also known for their incredible speed. They can reach speeds of up to 10 miles per hour, which helps them quickly locate and capture prey.

To better understand the differences between sand puppies and their arachnid relatives, let’s compare them in a table:

Feature Sand Puppy Spiders Scorpions
Number of Legs 10 8 8
Venomous No Yes (most) Yes
Body Segments 2 2 2
Pedipalps Long, sensory Modified fangs Pincer-like

Remember, while these creatures might look intimidating, they are not dangerous to humans. Nonetheless, it’s always wise to observe them from a safe distance and avoid handling them.

Sand Dogs or Sand Puppies

Interactions with Owners

When taking your dog to the beach, it’s essential to follow certain guidelines and be mindful of how your dog interacts with sand, water, and other beach elements. You should always bring fresh water and a portable shade for your dog to rest under. If you notice any signs of abdominal pain, panting, or restlessness in your dog, it may be due to ingesting large amounts of sand, and you should consult a veterinarian.

Play and Fetch Practices

Playing fetch with your sand dog on the beach can be an enjoyable experience for both of you. However, it’s important to choose toys that are easily visible and won’t get lost in the sand. Additionally, watch your dog’s activity level and take breaks in the shade to avoid overexertion.


  • Fun bonding experience with your dog
  • Great way to exercise your dog


  • Risk of losing toys in the sand
  • Overexertion due to high temperatures

Adventures in Water

Before taking your sand dog for a swim in the ocean or any other body of salt water, it’s crucial to consider your dog’s swimming ability and safety. Investing in a life jacket for your dog and monitoring their time in the water can help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Safety Tips:

  • Gradually introduce your dog to the water
  • Keep your dog on a leash during their first few water adventures
  • Monitor your dog for any signs of fatigue or stress

Comparable to playing fetch on the beach, swimming and surfing with your dog can be an exciting and immersive way to enjoy the beach together. However, it’s important to follow safety guidelines to ensure your dog has a great time in the water without any mishaps.

Potential Health Risks

Sand Impaction in Dogs

When your dog ingests sand at the beach, they may suffer from sand impaction. Sand impaction is a serious condition and can cause symptoms like vomiting and constipation. Common signs of sand impaction in dogs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite

If your dog experiences these symptoms after a beach trip, it’s essential to visit a veterinarian immediately. An X-ray can confirm the presence of sand impaction, and surgery may become necessary in severe cases.

Dehydration and Heatstroke

When frolicking at the beach with your dog, the risk of dehydration and heatstroke is higher. These conditions can become life-threatening if not tended to promptly. Be aware of the following symptoms:

  • Excessive panting
  • Salivating
  • Disorientation
  • Collapse

Keeping your dog hydrated and protecting them from direct sunlight is crucial. Provide access to clean, fresh water, and avoid the hottest parts of the day.

Insect Bites

Insects such as jellyfish and biting flies can cause painful injuries, allergic reactions, or potential infections. Immediate concerns include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Hives

While on the beach, watch your dog closely and avoid areas known for jellyfish or other stinging creatures. If bitten, seek veterinary advice promptly.

Remember to remain vigilant at the beach and prioritize your dog’s well-being to ensure a fun and safe experience.

Preventing Risks

Basic Training and Commands

To ensure your sand puppy stays safe, it’s essential to teach them basic training and commands. This helps prevent accidents and ensures their safety during trips to the beach or park. For example:

  • Teach them the “leave it” command, which can help them avoid seaweed or dangerous items they might encounter.
  • A solid “recall” command is crucial for preventing your sand puppy from running too far or going towards hazards.

Practice these commands in a safe environment before attempting them at the beach.

Choosing the Right Time and Location

Your choice of time and location can help prevent risks to your sand puppy. Here are some suggestions:

  • Avoid hot sand, which can harm their feet, by visiting the beach during cooler times of the day, such as early morning or late afternoon.
  • Look for a location that offers plenty of shade, protecting your sand puppy from the sun’s harmful rays.

Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your sand puppy, especially if they have a thin or light coat.

Precautionary Measures

Finally, consider these precautionary measures to keep your sand puppy safe and healthy:

  • Assess water safety before allowing your sand puppy to swim, ensuring currents aren’t too strong or deep.
  • Limit the use of flying discs or fetching toys near water, as they can lead to accidents or unintended swimming.
  • Rinse your sand puppy with fresh water after the beach trip to wash off salt and sand, which can cause skin irritation.

By following these steps, you can minimize risks and ensure your sand puppy has a safe, enjoyable time outdoors.

Emergency Care

Identifying Signs of Distress

As a sand puppy owner, it’s important to recognize the key symptoms of distress in your pet. Some common signs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Panting
  • Restlessness

Pay close attention to any changes in your sand puppy’s behavior or appearance.

Initial Response

If you notice any of the above symptoms, it’s crucial to move quickly. Gently assess the situation and try to identify any potential causes of distress. For example, could your sand puppy have ingested something toxic?

Keep your pet comfortable and try to ensure their environment is as calm and stress-free as possible. Avoid administering any medications without consulting a veterinarian first.

Veterinary Consultation

When facing an emergency situation, it’s essential to contact your veterinarian right away. While some symptoms may be mild, others could indicate a more serious underlying issue that requires immediate care.

Be prepared to provide your veterinarian with a detailed description of the symptoms and any relevant information about your sand puppy’s medical history. Based on this information, they may recommend medications or suggest that you bring your pet in for further evaluation.

Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and seek professional advice to ensure the well-being of your sand puppy.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Sand Puppy


Weird insect
Hello Bugman,
I am writing about a bug that I have been unable to find anywhere. It has been on my mind for several years and found this site. Hopefully, you can be of assistance. I was traveling with my father, daughter and friends to Black Rock Valley in Nevada. On our way, we stopped to have dinner somewhere in the western part of Utah or along I-80 in Nevada. We saw a bug in the corner of an entry way to a truck stop diner. We had never seen anything like it before and asked the locals who told us it was a ‘sand puppy’. The bug was reddish in color with a hairy body similar to what one might expect on a tarantula. The body was in two parts like an ant, with the head in particular resembling an ant with pinchers. The plump body was ringed like a bumble bee and very full. The locals told us that if the insect were injured and the ‘bee’ body part was unharmed, that it would uncoil and sliver away like a snake or centipede and regrow it’s body. I did not witness this first hand so that part is a mystery. The legs looked like a spider from the top (meaning the legs were bowed up and out and forming a circular pattern if you played dot-to-dot with the ends of the legs), but a cricket from the bottom (meaning they looked like cricket legs the way they attached to the body) and I believe it had more than 6 legs. It was about 2 1/2 inches in diameter including the legs. The locals also said that they bite ‘real hard’ and have even seen them bite a dog. They also said that the one we came upon was bigger than they had ever seen before. I looked over your pages and the closest thing it resembled was a potato bug, but none of them have hair bodies and the head didn’t look like an ant. Nor did it crawl like a cricket. It walked like a spider, smoothly. Any ideas?
Many thanks,

Hi Ridge,
Yours is the second letter asking about Sand Puppies, obviously a local name. The other letter also mentioned Potato Bugs which was our first guess. After reading your letter, we believe Sand Puppies might be Solpugids, also known as Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions. They are not poisonous, but do have powerful jaws we would not want to be bitten by. There is an amazing photo circulating the web which we also have published on our Solpugid/Scorpion page of Iraqi Solpugids which get very large and are known as Camel Spiders.

Letter 2 – Sand Puppies and Fear Factor


Potato Bug
When Fear Factor aired the episode with the Potato Bugs you received a question asking if these were the same as Sand Puppies. In southwest Wyoming we have bugs that look just like the Potato Bugs that we call Sand Puppies. These Sand Puppies here have a Parasite that looks like a thin worm that lives in them. If you put the Sand Puppy in water, say to kill it, then this Parasite comes out! You didn’t answer the question about them being the same bug. If they are then I find it even more disgusting that Fear Factor would let someone eat this Parasite without mentioning it! Unless this is something that only happens to our Potato Bug/Sand Puppies. I sure hope you can figure this out!
Tim Doak

Hi Tim,
We just received a new letter asking about Sand Puppies which we now believe might be Solpugids which also are called Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions, or in the Middle East, Camel Spiders. I know nothing about the parasite you mention, but most animals on the planet fall prey to some type of parasite, and most parasites are very host specific.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

12 thoughts on “Sand Puppy: All You Need to Know in a Quick Guide”

  1. I’ve just discovered an insect that very nearly matches the description you give of a “hush puppy,” except that the body is hairless, and it is definitely an insect, not an arachnid. It has six legs, a reddish-brown head that looks very ant-like; the mid section is sand colored, but the (very large) rear end is black and white striped–though only on the top. The bottom of the insect is pale. When prodded, it thrusts it’s hind end as though it were trying to sting, like a wasp. I’ve looked at pictures of the wind scorpions, and this is not one of those.

  2. When I lived in Utah we had sand dunes near our house. We had sand puppies. We were talking about our young days and remembered the sand puppies so I looked it up. They did look like what was described but I remember they were a whitish beige color

  3. Actually Sand Puppies are extremely deadly. Living in Green River, WY, we had them everywhere. They look like a cross between a spider, scorpion and large ant. Their bites are extremely painful and they are very aggressive, protective creatures. If you step on one or it dies, you are not out of the clear. They have a worm like parasite inside them that squirms out and these are absolutely dangerous.

    Multiple counts of people falling extremely sick after sand puppy encounters in Green River. While there, a girl almost died while playing in a sand box. The Sand puppy, like its name, was crawling around in the sand and attacked the girl. Usually found in window wells and under rocks, and dark, somewhat secluded areas.

  4. Actually Sand Puppies are extremely deadly. Living in Green River, WY, we had them everywhere. They look like a cross between a spider, scorpion and large ant. Their bites are extremely painful and they are very aggressive, protective creatures. If you step on one or it dies, you are not out of the clear. They have a worm like parasite inside them that squirms out and these are absolutely dangerous.

    Multiple counts of people falling extremely sick after sand puppy encounters in Green River. While there, a girl almost died while playing in a sand box. The Sand puppy, like its name, was crawling around in the sand and attacked the girl. Usually found in window wells and under rocks, and dark, somewhat secluded areas.

    • I lived in Green River most of my life as well and am currently living in rock springs. I encountered one earlier. Any idea how to get rid of them?

  5. ive seen these my whole life , im in utah and they have always been known as ………. SAND PUPPY’S . Didn’t know if they could bite hard . Anyway just saw one dead in the drive way this morning . i have a pic ,, go to my facebook and look if you’d like 🙂 . Jesus saves

    • I have found only one potato bug here in Utah and never knew them as sand puppies. However there is another bug I am now wondering what it is that matches these descriptions only its small and it has pinchers top and bottom rather than side by side and we called those sand puppies but this post now makes me curious as to what we’ve been finding around here. Also their bite is very very painful!

  6. Sand puppy is 100% a Jerusalem Cricket. had them around my entire life. It is not a sun spider and while they can bite, they are basically harmless.


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