Cerbalus Aravaensis: Middle East’s Largest Spider

Cerbalus aravaensis, a huntsman spider from the Sparassidae family with a leg span of 5.5 inches, is the largest spider in the Middle East. However, with no fancy common name, it remains virtually unknown outside of Israel and Jordan.

And that is a shame. Are there no horror movie producers or tellers of long tales in these two countries? So why is the world’s tenth-largest spider relegated to a scientific name found only in a boring taxonomy report?

As I said, it is a shame because this is a gorgeous spider and faces a very uncertain future. However, more publicity might be all that separates it from extinction.

Cerbalus aravaensis
Cerbalus aravaensis Biggest spider of Middle east from Arava valley eat gekko Stenodactylus doriae. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com/Vojtanor.

Cerbalus aravaensis: The rarest spider of the them all.

Cerbalus aravaensis is a scarce species of spider found only in the Arava region in Israel and Jordan. The Middle East’s version of the huntsman spider is a strictly nocturnal sand dweller. It is active only in the hottest temperatures and resides in sand dunes and the somewhat stable sand around the edges of salt marshes.

Cerbalus aravaensis constructs underground dens with a hinged, trap-door structure that covers the opening made of sand and glue. Using native materials, the door disguises the den’s entrance from prey and predators.

The nature preserves of the Sands of Samar are the last remaining dunes in the southern Arava region of Israel and the only home to Cerbalus aravaensis. But even these sanctuaries are disappearing. The re-zoning of some areas for sand quarries, agricultural purposes, mining projects and airports on the Sands of Samar may begin again, making it likely the Cerbalus aravaensis perishes from the world.

Cerbalus aravaensis: Diet.

The cerbalus aravaensis feeds primarily on insects but (as seen in the photo above) has no problem taking on much larger reptiles and lizards, many of them larger and heavier than the spiders themselves.

Cerbalus aravaensis: Identification.

Cerbalus aravaensis has a leg span of 5.5 in, making it the largest member of the family Sparassidae in the Middle Eastand Israel. Males have a body length of under one inch, but females average one inch.

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Dennis V. Gilmore Jr.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr. is a former Marine Sergeant and the author of several books, including two on night hunting coyotes and red and gray fox. He has written several hundred articles on predator hunting for ThePredatorHunter.com.

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