If you are looking to get a camel spider as an exotic pet and are wondering: what do camel spiders eat? This article will answer all your questions.
Quick, agile, and great hunters, camel spiders, are both big and fast. They are usually found scurrying about in the desert.
They look like something of a cross between spiders and scorpions, and there are many myths surrounding them.
One such myth is that they eat the stomachs of sleeping soldiers and camels!
Some legends even paint them as massive creatures with strong pincers that can attack and outrun humans, letting out a bloodcurdling scream as they chase their prey down a sand dune!
They mainly eat smaller insects like beetles, wasps, smaller spiders and arthropods, termites, and sometimes ants.
What Are Camel Spiders?
Tan to dark brown in color, the camel spider has front pincers similar to that of a scorpion and a rear body resembling that of a spider.
They are known by many names, such as the sun spider and wind scorpion. But they are actually Solifugids which are neither true spiders nor scorpions.
They have a total of five pairs of legs, with the front legs developed into antennae-like pedipalps, along with pincers.
The feet have sensory organs that help them detect vibrations in the sand. Females of the species are larger in size than males, exhibiting dimorphism.
What Do They Eat?
They eat pretty much anything they can find in the desert that is smaller than them.
Apart from what we already shared earlier, they can also prey on larger animals such as rodents, lizards, and sometimes even birds.
While generally not a favorite, they are known to eat ants and silverfish too.
Due to the nature of their mouth, they can only ingest liquefied food. They are capable of storing food within their body to survive in the hot desert.
However, starvation remains a top cause of death for them, given the lack of food sources in desert environments.
Do camel spiders eat camels?
There is a myth that these arachnids feed on the stomachs of camels and lay eggs underneath their skin.
However, this is not true, and no such cases have been reported.
In fact, the spider isn’t preying on them, but it might simply be standing alongside them, looking for shade from the hot sun.
When agitated, they might end up clamping onto whatever is nearby – including the skin of the camel.
Why do camel spiders kill ants?
With their strong pincers, these spiders have been observed to attack ant nests and tear apart the ants one by one until the entire colony is finished.
The reason why they do this is unknown. Initially, it was believed that they killed these ants and preserved the body as food for later.
However, we know from a 2014 study that they don’t actually eat ants!
The current hypothesis is that they might be looking for shade in the desert, and an empty ant nest is a good home for them.
But these hypotheses are not confirmed, and we are still not totally sure why they do this.
How Do They Eat Their Food?
Being part-scorpion, they are aggressive hunters and very different from spiders with respect to their hunting strategy.
They do not wait for prey in a web or nest; instead are aggressive hunters.
The pincers of these spiders make up almost 1/3rd of their body. Their first pairs of legs are developed into pedipalps which help with fighting and movement.
On sighting prey, they grab them with their pedipalp, which has adhesive organs.
The pincers are then used to cut their prey into pieces. Despite their aggressive nature, camel spiders can only eat liquid food because of the shape of their mouths.
They eject a digestive enzyme onto their prey to turn its insides into mush, which they then feast on with much relish.
Can You Keep Camel Spiders as Pets?
Yes, for spider lovers, a camel spider can be a great exotic pet to keep. They are not poisonous and require minimal care.
The lifespan for an adult is around one year. Camel spiders are solitary creatures. If kept with another of their species, they might get aggressive and resort to cannibalism.
The main thing to remember when caring for them is not to agitate your spider, especially not when they are in their pre-molting stage.
Caring For A Pet Camel Spider
Here are some tips to take care of a pet camel spider if you are looking to keep one:
- Give them the right habitat. Have a tank that is at least 9 gallons, and fill it with at least 3 to 5 inches of substrate.
- Camel spiders are burrowing animals. Make sure to add enough shade through leaves, bark, and other materials.
- Create a suitable microclimate. They are used to the dryness of the desert. A temperature of 95 °F during the day and a maximum of 82 °F at night suits them. Keep them away from light.
- Mist the tank to increase humidity at night. Generally, misting in a corner creates a gradient in the tank, and the spider can then find a spot where it is comfortable with the humidity.
- Keep them active by feeding them live prey such as locusts and mealworms. Camel spiders do not need much water, but you can keep a shallow dish.
- Remember not to cause the spider distress! Be careful while picking them; they are fast runners (up to 10 miles per hour) and can easily get lost.
If you get a camel spider bite, make sure to disinfect the area and apply ointment.
While they give painful bites, it is not poisonous. You can take a painkiller to relieve the pain and visit a doctor if it does not subside.
Who Eats Camel Spiders?
Some species of bats, other scorpions, and toads are the natural predators of the camel spider. Generally, they are among the top hunters in the desert ecosystem. However, since they are nocturnal, they are good prey for other nocturnal animals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do camel spiders eat snakes?
Camel spiders can eat larger animals such as lizards, gerbils, and even small snakes! Some are even known to eat birds, depending on their size.
They prey on anything edible in the environment and is smaller than them, including small ants, wasps, and beetles.
Do camel spiders eat ants?
While camel spiders are known to eat ants, it is certainly not a favorite of theirs. Most camel spiders will opt for other prey.
In fact, they have been known to destroy many ant hills and kill the ants, but without eating any of them!
How do you keep camel spiders alive?
The main criterion for keeping them alive as pets is providing the best microclimate. This includes a dry daytime and a humid and misty nighttime climate.
They have a high metabolic rate and should be well-fed with insects. Female camel spiders that are pregnant should be fed more than usual.
Can camel spiders eat crickets?
Camel spiders do eat crickets, along with a variety of other insects. As a pet, you can feed them with store-bought mealworms, cockroaches, crickets, and locusts.
It’s best to feed them live pets so that they can hunt them on their own.
Prey itself to many tall tales, the camel spider is only now becoming a popular pet across the world, especially here in the US..
Apart from Australia and Antarctica, they are found on virtually every continent, most commonly in the deserts of middle eastern Asia.
In the United States, they are found in the southwestern deserts in states like Texas and Arizona.
You should be able to get them from any exotic pet store nearby, along with the necessary food that they eat, and a habitat.
Thank you for reading!