Monday, March 26, 2012

Strange Beasts: Whips

While exploring a wooded area or a tropical forest, one adventurer strays a bit from the party. He stumbles over a thick creeper or root, curses and curses even louder when the creeper begins to move, feeling around for him. The next thing he knows, a creature with way too many legs is running towards him, keeping low to the ground and doing its best to cut him in half with a set of powerful, spiked pincers.

Whip spiders, also known as tailless whip scorpions are harmless for humans in the natural size, but for unsuspecting insects they are deadly. Those whips are much longer than the actual animal, up to 30cm with some species, with a body size of only 5cm, and they are used to feel for prey. Whip spiders don't have very good eyesight, but when their whips have touched an insect, they are amazingly fast and will be on top of their prey in the blink of an eye.

Let's assume a roughly Rottweiler-sized whip spider, with a body length of 100 cm or so. That makes the whips about 6 metres long and will allow the whip spider to hide in some foliage or on the ground. They don't raise their body much, so forget about hitting their less armoured underside (which isn't all that weak anyway). Those pincers (pedipalps, actually) are strong and can be moved about as fast as those of a mantis. The small eyes on top of the head may be a weak spot and if the player actually dares and manages to jump on the whip spider's back, he would be safe from the pincers, but not from the whips. Whip spiders do not posses any venom.


The photo shows a whip spider of the species Damon variegatus that I kept as a pet a few years ago. Here's some more info on them and some photos, along with scorpions and vinegaroons, on This thread at has even more photos.

Despite their name, whip spiders are not spiders and neither are they scorpions. They are arachnids and form an order of their own. Some species live in caves. Usually, they are nocturnal, but that doesn't stop them from going after prey during the day if it comes to them.

Strange Beasts List

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