Find this site useful?
~ Adverts ~
the pages of 'The British Tarantula Society Journal'
SOLIFUGIDS - CAPTIVE
MANAGEMENT & IDENTIFICATION
Solifugids are quite formidable animals. They are
known under various names, i.e. Sun Spiders, Camel
Spiders, Wind Scorpions etc. They only vaguely resemble
true spiders, the differences being the segmented
opisthosoma (abdomen) and the massive chelicerae (fangs).
The abdomen does NOT possess spinnerets! They have, on
the ventral surface, five Raquet organs (malleoli) which
presumably function as receptors of some sort (see
illustration) not unlike the pectines of a scorpion.
The chelicerae are absolutely enormous in relation to
body size. They form powerful pincers which can quite
easily snap an adult locust in half.
The legs of solifugids are quite unusual. The first pair
are almost vestigial being very weak. They are not legs
in the true sense but are rather tactile organs carried
out and in front of the animal almost like antennae. The
rest of the legs serve an ambulatory function, i.e.
walking and for 4th pair carry the raquet organs on their
The sizes of solifugids vary considerably from 1-5crns in
length (Cloudsley-Thompson). They present as yellow or
brown whilst two species are black - Rhagodes and
Dinorhax, whilst Galeodes arabs are very hairy and bulky
(These were the species imported by Ian Wallace, I have
examined 30 specimens).
The solifugae are found in tropical and subtropical
regions. Six species occur in Europe and these are found
in the warmer regions such as Spain and Greece, and the
Balkans (Cloudesley-Thompson). Ten families are known and
are all old-world (Cloudesley-Thompson) but they are
known to occur in the U.S.A.
These animals like it hot! They inhabit inhospitable
deserts, especially neglected regions and they avoid
FERTILE AREAS. They are known to burrow but the female
usually scrapes a circle in the sand (Pocock 1898). All
species appear similar in these habits (Turner 1916).
According to Cloudesley-Thompson these animals are
voracious and, having kept these over a number of years,
(I can testify to the truth of that) they eat mice,
lizards, scorpions - in fact anything even small birds!
The prey is located by vibration on the tactile organs
and captured by ambush or stalking. They are NOT
I have always kept mine in plastic boxes 12" long
x 6" wide x 6" high with DRY sand and an
upturned flower pot or rock for cover. The lid MUST be
tight because solifugids CAN CLIMB GLASS with suckers on
the end of the pedipalps. So do remember this. Leave a
small container of water but top this up twice a week.
They feed voraciously but may kill and leave their food.
Locusts and crickets will suffice. They CANNOT be kept
together as cannabalism will result. They need to be kept
warm and dry and fed regularly. The best temperature is
80F and try to maintain this throughout the hours of
daylight. Solifugids are nocturnal but can still be
active during the day. They can also HISS! A stridulating
organ is found on the inner surface of the chelicerae and
the sound is reminiscent of a hissing snake.
Sexing the Solifugid.
These are not really diamorphic animals except for a
few characteristics and the males can be identified by
the presence of a whip-like structure on the dorsal
surface of the chelicerae (see illustration). These are
called the flagellum. His legs are longer, the jaws are
thinner and not as strongly toothed as the female.
The recent importation of these lovely and fascinating
animals by EIS proved to be, when I examined them,
Galeodes arabs from Egypt. I could identify only females
but there are some males so a mating could be
contemplated. Solifugids do moult but the number of
moults and the time to reach adulthood is as yet unknown.
I have written only a brief synopsis of the order
solifugidae and anyone requiring more detailed
information regarding these lovely animals is welcome to
write to me.
||- Spiders, Scorpions, Centipedes & Mites,
Pergammon Press, 1958
- New & Little Known South African Solifugids
in South African Museum (Scientific Descriptions)
||- Animals of S.A. Museum Vol.1 Part 3, 1899
||- Introduction to Arachnology
||- Circa 1959
||T. BENTON, Zoology Dept. Cambridge.
© Copyright 'The British Tarantula
Last Updated: April 04, 2007