Six-Eyed Sand Spider: Is the White Sand Spider Dangerous?

The Six-Eyed Sand Spider (Sicarius hahni), also known as aranas blanca’s de la arena, is a medium-sized spider found in the Afrotropical desert-like areas of Namibia, South Africa, and the Zimbabwe Lowveld. It is a member of the Sicariidae family, which consists of 3 genera and 160 species (including the Brown Recluse spider). 

Six-eyed sand spider
Six-eyed sand spider. Photo credit: Van Zyl

Six-eyed sand spider: Description.

The six-eyed sand spider is one of the most perfectly camouflaged spiders in the world. If it hunted humans, it would be a terrible threat. Why? All along the top of the spider is stiff hair that captures any local sediment it throws on its back. 

With its body covered with the same colored materials as it is waiting or walking upon, the six-eyed spider is nearly invisible. 

Fortunately, the six-eyed sand spider is reclusive and shy. Therefore, nothing short of deliberate pursuit or accidental contact will cause it to bite a human. 

The six-eyed sand spider had a leg span of up to 2 inches and a body length of just over 1/2 inch. Its body is colored a brownish red to yellow and has no conspicuous markings or strips.

Six-eyed sand spider: Habitat.

The six-eyed sand spider lives in semiarid regions with sandy areas or straight-out deserts. It does not hunt by using or web, waiting in a burrow like a Funnel-web spider, or walking around; instead, it ambushes prey that comes within range.

To effect an ambush, the six-eyed sand spider will kick local matter over its body or bury itself just under the sand. 

Six-eyed sand spider: Diet.

Six-eyed sand spiders are perfectly adapted for the semiarid areas they live in. They can go weeks without food, unmoving, and simply waiting for prey to stroll too close.

Once prey is targeted, and in range, the six-eyed spider grabs it with its front pair of legs, bites it, injects venom to kill it, and then consumes it. 

The venom of the six-eyed sand spider is very toxic and kills most prey within seconds. This allows it to quickly kills large insects, scorpions, and other game like lizards that are larger than itself.

Six-eyed sand spider: Mating and reproduction.

Like all spider species, six-eyed sand spider males must be cautious if they wish to both passes on their seed and survive the mating process. No matter what spider species, approaching a female means determining her ability and desire to mate but not being mistaken for prey or immediately consumed after coitus to feed future generations.

The female six-eyed spider does not use a web for anything other than to create an egg sac. After mating, she will place all her eggs in this sac, place it in the sand, and protect it at all costs. Hatched spiderlings are born in the same habitat they will live, hunt, and breed in.

Are six-eyed sand spider bites dangerous?

The six-eyed sand spider produces more toxic venom than any other spider. This venom can kill a rabbit. But can it cause a medically significant wound to a human?

Potentially. Six-eyed sand spiders have bitten so few people that little research, medical case studies, or word-of-mouth examples are available. Also, there is no anti-venom available as of today.

The threat, therefore, is the possible damage and destruction of red blood cells and the release of a strong hemolytic into the wound site. Researchers worry a six-eyed sand spider bite could produce blood vessel damage, bleeding, tissue destruction, and the death of affected tissue.

One last note, and one that further reduces the likelihood of the bite of a six-eyed sand spider as being dangerous—not every bite will contain venom or a large amount, if it anyway.

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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

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