Solifuges are commonly recognized as fast-moving, voracious
hunters. The following accounts and images, kindly provided by Joe Furman
of Houston, Texas, clearly document an alternative feeding strategy: They do, at times,
the role of scavenger.
"In March of 1992, I went to Namibia in southwestern Africa with a group of four
people from the Houston Zoo Reptile House to photograph and collect reptiles and
Amphibians. One night, while road collecting near the town of Khorixas,
which is located just southwest of Etosha National Park, we noticed a very large
male solifuge running around on the tar road in front of our lights. The
temperature was warm, in the 80's [degrees Fahrenheit]. The solifuge was
carrying something, so we stopped to see what it was. He was carrying a 12
inch long juvenile Namib Tiger snake (Telescopus semianulatus) in his
jaws. This snake was obviously a road kill and very flat and dead.
It had likely been run over in the morning and sat in the sun all day by the
look of its condition. The solifuge ran around carrying the snake until it
stopped half under a small plant, where we photographed it. I kept a list
of the animals we'd seen each day. The entry for April 1, 1992 reads,
'Something huge was running on the road before us, no, not an elephant. It was
the biggest Sun Spider I've ever seen!' " - Joe Furman.
"On another visit to Namibia in 1996, while visiting the coastal town of
Luderitz on road B4, I witnessed a solifuge eating a freshly road-killed
Barking Gecko (Ptenopus garrulus). The gecko had recently been run
over, and a black tenebrionid beetle was eating it. A very small solifuge
was also moving around the gecko and beetle. I took some pictures and
videotaped the scene. While the beetle was eating the gecko's entrails,
the solifuge moved from place to place around the gecko until it found a place
where the gecko had not been torn open, then started sawing back and forth with
its chelicerae into the gecko's skin. It was a cool evening. I'd say
60 degrees Fahrenheit. The tar road was warmer." - Joe Furman.