Camel/Sun Spider Care

Venus

Arachnopeon
Joined
Feb 3, 2020
Messages
2
Hello, i'm very new to this kind of thing, and I can't find much info on how to care for Sun spiders/Solifugae. I'm very interested in keeping one, they're extremely unique and interesting. (and adorable.)
I'm wondering things like:
How often do I feed it?
What kind of tank do I need for it?
Do I need a heat lamp for it?
How do you even.. make a tank colder if needed?
What kind of habitat substance should I use, sand, soil, coconut fiber, or a combination of those?
Do Solifugae usually burrow, and should I use a "burrow-able" soil/sand for the habitat? (From what i've seen in a lot of videos, they don't seem to burrow, I think they do need a hiding place, like a log or something. Please correct me if i'm wrong.)
How many inches of soil/sand do is satisfactory for a Solifugae?

I'm sorry for the newbie questions (and the ridiculous amount of them), I just don't want to end up caring poorly for one. I really want to care for one and I don't want to mess it up. Also, if you have more tips or help, please share!
 

chanda

Arachnoprince
Active Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2010
Messages
1,955
Let me start by saying that solifugids are very tricky to keep alive for any length of time in captivity. (They're the only pet bug offered by Bugs in Cyberspace that does not come with a live arrival guarantee for that very reason!)

They do require sandy soil that they can burrow in. Whenever I've kept them, they will burrow if they have enough substrate to do so. Like any burrowing species, they'll need the substrate to be deep enough to allow them to burrow - at least a few inches, but possibly more if you have one of the larger species. They'll also need a moisture gradient - ideally, the lower levels of the substrate should be slightly moist, while the surface should be dry. They also appreciate hiding places and obstacles to climb over, like a piece of cork bark or cholla or a cork tube lying on the ground.

When you pick a tank, give them plenty of room to run around - and make sure the lid is secure, with no gaps they can squeeze through. They can climb smooth glass or plastic surfaces easily, using the tips of their pedipalps like suction cups to pull themselves up the side of the tank.

I've used crickets as feeders, and they accepted them readily - when they were hungry. Although they will tear a cricket apart voraciously when hungry, there are times when they aren't interested and will ignore feeders. My feeding schedule for them was the same as it is for most of my arachnids - once every week or two when they're active - and a single cricket is sufficient. I do not feed them at all when they are dormant.

I've kept them at room temperature, with no supplemental heat lamps or heat pads. (There is a small thermostat-controlled space heater in the room, to prevent it getting too cold either at night - or in the summer, when the AC is on.) The room does get a bit cooler at night and in the summertime it also tends to be a bit warmer (closer to 80F at times). They are nocturnal animals, so do not require lights.

The thing with solifugids is they are only active for brief periods, then undergo long periods of dormancy/premolt. I caught my current solifugid back in early June. It was active through June and part of July, then burrowed into the substrate and did not come out again for several months. When it finally did emerge, it went into premolt - which is a really weird, unnatural looking position with the legs sticking awkwardly up in the air at various angles .(see this thread https://arachnoboards.com/threads/molting-solifugid.274699/ for a picture). It's still in that same position. They can take months to molt. The first time I had one do this, I thought it had died so I just stuck the cage under a shelf and forgot about it - and then months later I happened to glance at it, and there it was, alive and well, with a freshly-vacated molt in the cage. I've had one other molt for me, and it was the same with that one - months of sitting around with its legs in the air, looking very dead - until finally it popped out and was fine. I'm hoping the current one is similarly alive and well and just taking a really long time about it. I keep adding a little water to the sand (but not getting the solfugid itself wet, of course!) I'm hoping it gets around to molting this spring.

I've tried repeatedly with the local SoCal solifugids and their larger cousins from Arizona. The Arizona ones seem to do a bit better in captivity. (I don't try keeping the SoCal ones any more. I will still sometimes catch one to show my students - but now I release them after I've finished.) So far, I've been unable to keep one alive for a full year. Those that lived longest were those that entered long dormant stages, either underground or above ground in premolt - which I've read is also normal for solifugids in the wild. They are active for brief periods, when they will feed and mate and lay eggs - but spend a large portion of their lives dormant underground.
 

Venus

Arachnopeon
Joined
Feb 3, 2020
Messages
2
Let me start by saying that solifugids are very tricky to keep alive for any length of time in captivity. (They're the only pet bug offered by Bugs in Cyberspace that does not come with a live arrival guarantee for that very reason!)

They do require sandy soil that they can burrow in. Whenever I've kept them, they will burrow if they have enough substrate to do so. Like any burrowing species, they'll need the substrate to be deep enough to allow them to burrow - at least a few inches, but possibly more if you have one of the larger species. They'll also need a moisture gradient - ideally, the lower levels of the substrate should be slightly moist, while the surface should be dry. They also appreciate hiding places and obstacles to climb over, like a piece of cork bark or cholla or a cork tube lying on the ground.

When you pick a tank, give them plenty of room to run around - and make sure the lid is secure, with no gaps they can squeeze through. They can climb smooth glass or plastic surfaces easily, using the tips of their pedipalps like suction cups to pull themselves up the side of the tank.

I've used crickets as feeders, and they accepted them readily - when they were hungry. Although they will tear a cricket apart voraciously when hungry, there are times when they aren't interested and will ignore feeders. My feeding schedule for them was the same as it is for most of my arachnids - once every week or two when they're active - and a single cricket is sufficient. I do not feed them at all when they are dormant.

I've kept them at room temperature, with no supplemental heat lamps or heat pads. (There is a small thermostat-controlled space heater in the room, to prevent it getting too cold either at night - or in the summer, when the AC is on.) The room does get a bit cooler at night and in the summertime it also tends to be a bit warmer (closer to 80F at times). They are nocturnal animals, so do not require lights.

The thing with solifugids is they are only active for brief periods, then undergo long periods of dormancy/premolt. I caught my current solifugid back in early June. It was active through June and part of July, then burrowed into the substrate and did not come out again for several months. When it finally did emerge, it went into premolt - which is a really weird, unnatural looking position with the legs sticking awkwardly up in the air at various angles .(see this thread https://arachnoboards.com/threads/molting-solifugid.274699/ for a picture). It's still in that same position. They can take months to molt. The first time I had one do this, I thought it had died so I just stuck the cage under a shelf and forgot about it - and then months later I happened to glance at it, and there it was, alive and well, with a freshly-vacated molt in the cage. I've had one other molt for me, and it was the same with that one - months of sitting around with its legs in the air, looking very dead - until finally it popped out and was fine. I'm hoping the current one is similarly alive and well and just taking a really long time about it. I keep adding a little water to the sand (but not getting the solfugid itself wet, of course!) I'm hoping it gets around to molting this spring.

I've tried repeatedly with the local SoCal solifugids and their larger cousins from Arizona. The Arizona ones seem to do a bit better in captivity. (I don't try keeping the SoCal ones any more. I will still sometimes catch one to show my students - but now I release them after I've finished.) So far, I've been unable to keep one alive for a full year. Those that lived longest were those that entered long dormant stages, either underground or above ground in premolt - which I've read is also normal for solifugids in the wild. They are active for brief periods, when they will feed and mate and lay eggs - but spend a large portion of their lives dormant underground.
Thank you so much for the help! It's very kind of you! This answered most of my questions, but I still have some. I live in California, it gets a little hot sometimes but most of the time its just at a comfortable warm temperature, would I be fine to just leave the tank without any temperature-controlling precautions? My situation with it is basically the same as yours. Also, yeah, I am aware of the difficulty to keep a Solifugae alive for very long in captivity, but I want to at least do my best. That's all I really can do, right? Haha. About the moisture gradient - How would I keep the lower levels of substrate moist? I'm not very sure how I would/should go about that. That's about all for my inquiries! That molting situation is very interesting. Its quite fascinating how long they can just be.. dormant. It's almost like they just die and come back to life a lot. It's hard to believe its living at all when its like that, I can understand your worries. I'm assuming months isn't the average molt duration?
 

chanda

Arachnoprince
Active Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2010
Messages
1,955
Thank you so much for the help! It's very kind of you! This answered most of my questions, but I still have some. I live in California, it gets a little hot sometimes but most of the time its just at a comfortable warm temperature, would I be fine to just leave the tank without any temperature-controlling precautions? My situation with it is basically the same as yours. Also, yeah, I am aware of the difficulty to keep a Solifugae alive for very long in captivity, but I want to at least do my best. That's all I really can do, right? Haha. About the moisture gradient - How would I keep the lower levels of substrate moist? I'm not very sure how I would/should go about that. That's about all for my inquiries! That molting situation is very interesting. Its quite fascinating how long they can just be.. dormant. It's almost like they just die and come back to life a lot. It's hard to believe its living at all when its like that, I can understand your worries. I'm assuming months isn't the average molt duration?
Your temperature should be fine without any supplemental heating/cooling - as long as you're comfortable with it, the solifugid should be fine, too. Just make sure the tank isn't somewhere like right in front of a window where the sun can hit it and heat it up like an oven, or directly under a heating/air conditioning vent. They can tolerate a range of temperatures - but should be protected from extremes that they would normally avoid in the wild by being deep underground.

As far as the moisture gradient goes, it's really not that hard. I dig a little hole against the side of the enclosure on one side, and water that spot fairly heavily - enough so the water spreads down through the substrate on that side of the tank, but does not soak the entire tank. The surface will initially be wet at that spot - but will dry out over the next few days. The idea is just to give the solifugid a choice of whether to be in the dry part or the damp part. Some people will sink a straw or small tube into the substrate and inject water into the tube with a syringe to wet the lower level of substrate while bypassing the top layer completely.

As far as the molt duration goes? I think that is pretty normal for them. I read somewhere that the long period leading up to the actual molt is not time-related (like they go dormant for x-number of days) but is just long while they wait for just the right conditions to emerge. Just what those "conditions" are, I couldn't say - but probably some combination of temperature, humidity, and maybe even daylight cycle.

I have read that it is perfectly normal for them to be dormant for a major portion of their lives, even in the wild - and when they do not enter a dormant state (such as when they are in an enclosure that does not have enough substrate to permit burrowing) they die much sooner. It almost seems like they've got a finite amount of life, and they can either burn through it very quickly by remaining active, or can conserve it by undergoing dormant periods, and live much longer.
 

mantisfan101

Arachnoprince
Active Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2018
Messages
1,228
Depends on species. Gor the most part, limited space, adequate burrowing substrate, minimal but aufficient feedings(once or twice a week) and room temps seem to be best. If you have paragaleodes don’t feed them at all unless you see them actively crawling around since they spend almost an entire year in dormancy.
 
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