Camel Spiders in the Desert of… Canada?

Photo credit here.

Photo credit here.

The hairy, fast moving arachnid with menacing pincer-like jaws, commonly known as the Camel Spider, is endemic to most hot desert regions around the world. It will feed on most anything it is able to kill or scavenge, from insects to lizards, rodents and even small birds. They were encountered by allied troops in Northern Africa during both WW I and II.

Here are some interesting Sahara desert facts to consider: less than 4 inches of annual rainfall and temperatures in excess of 50 degrees Centigrade during the hottest months. So what are the chances you may be confronted by one of these uncouth carnivorous creatures in the decidedly cooler climes of Canada? More than you might expect.

Rodney Griffith, a British paratrooper on leave from Afghanistan, expected to spend time with his family in Essex free from the dangers of the rugged Helmand province. Instead his family members found themselves playing what they claim turned out to be a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a Camel Spider. Unbeknownst to Mr. Griffith, a Camel Spider had somehow hitched a ride with his belongs all the way to his army home in England. His son, Ricky, was the first to make contact with the creature as he was rummaging through a drawer.

Mrs. Griffith, who may well have believed that she had encountered the world’s largest spider ever, later attempted to trap the unwelcome guest using mince meat as bait, but found little success. Bella, the family dog, subsequently suffered from a swollen stomach and was taken to a vet. Her blood tests revealed a low white cell count and she had to be put down. Mrs. Griffith claims that the Camel Spider must have made her dog ill and is responsible for the death.

As the previous story demonstrates, it is not implausible for such an occurrence to take place in Canada. Canadians traveling to foreign locales and coming into contact with wildlife could potentially find themselves unwittingly bringing back an eight-legged souvenir. Though the largest and arguably most frightening examples of the Camel Spider are to be found abroad in Asia and the Middle East, there are in fact smaller versions inhabiting North America.

These are most commonly sighted in desert regions of the United States, but have also been inexplicably encountered in Canada. Perhaps an innocuous camping trip to the Grand Canyon resulted in more than just scenic photographs being taken back home. It would seem that regardless of origin, the likelihood that you’ll someday come face-to-face, or should I say mandible-to-face, with a Camel Spider is less than reassuring.

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