What to do if you find a scorpion in your house or campsite?
Scorpions are nocturnal predators that feed on insects, in particular. Moreover, they could be harmful to people and pets whenever they feel threatened. They are classified as stinging pests, which means they are arachnids. And, it makes them closer to mites, ticks, and spiders.
What are the different types of scorpions?
Scorpions belong to the class Arachnida and they are invertebrates. They have eight legs and a 2-part segmented body comprising of the abdomen and cephalothorax. As per the current record, there are about 1500 known species of scorpions. The largest of them is the Buthidae, which has more than 800 species.
They live in tropical, subtropical, and some part in temperate habitats. Seventy-two of the species that belong to Hemiscorpiidae live in almost every continent having tropical and sub-tropical climates. Some of the largest scorpion groups come from Scorpionidae with about 240 different species.
The emperor scorpion (Pandinus imperator), which is included in this family is considered the largest scorpion species. Another species is the Heterometrus swammerdami that reach up to 20cm. The African Androctonus australis scorpions should be avoided at any cost. Found in the Middle East and Africa, it is very harmful to humans because it injects venom rights to its victims.
The desert scorpion species such as the desert hairy scorpion can be adopted as pets. But it is an aggressive one that stings hard and is painful. Here are some of the types of scorpions.
Lesser Brown scorpions
An additional term for this creature could be imperial; It is usually local to the African continent. This animal may be the largest on the planet and is about 9 years old. The emperor scorpion is more than 20cm long. This particular scorpion is among the favourite tropical companion animals due to its low buildup of venom and thanks to its long lifespan.
Red Claw scorpions
Tailless Whip scorpions
It is a relatively small species of scorpion, ranging from an inch and a half to two and a half inches in adults. Its colour ranges from light, light tan, “rubber band” or even a deep golden brown, depending on its environment, and how recently it has peeled (shedding of the exoskeleton layer), among other factors. As such, neither size nor colour is a good criterion for identification purposes.
Three Stripped Scorpion
Where do scorpions live?
Of all the different types of scorpions and species found worldwide, about 90 of them can be found in the US. Mostly, scorpions live in both tropical and sub-tropical regions, rain forests, savannas, the Andes Mountain, and at higher elevations such as the Himalayas and the Alps.
The Arizona Bark Scorpion is a potential life threat in the US. Although scorpions dwell in different types of habitats, most of them prefer semi-arid and desert regions. During the daytime, scorpions prefer to live in certain under tree barks, logs, stones, inside concrete or expansion joints, inside wall voids, and around the foundation of a house.
Also, they spend most of the daytime in burrows. These burrows are about one meter deep depending on the dryness of the area. Scorpions tend to dig burrows where temperature and moisture are suitable to them. They wait at their burrows to grab their prey.
The powerful claws are meant to attack victims that enter the burrows from the surface openings. Only the male scorpions tend to leave their habitat for long periods in search of prospective mates.
What do scorpions eat?
Because scorpions are carnivorous, they eat a variety of food items. They eat a variety of lizards, spiders, grasshoppers, insects, crickets, small rodents like mice, and other scorpions. Their favorite food is spiders. They can eat large amounts of food in one meal, allowing them to survive 6 to 12 months without food.
During natural disasters or whenever food is scarce, scorpions can slow down their metabolism. As such, they can live without food for longer periods. Certain species can even stay alive with just one insect per year. The lower metabolism helps them to consume less oxygen as well. Scorpions hibernate on harsh conditions and start hunting again when the situation becomes more favorable.
To capture and crush their prey, scorpions use their pincers. Suing the stingers, they inject neurotoxin venom to the prey. As such, the prey becomes paralyzed and allows the scorpions to eat without difficulty. Scorpions can even kill their prey without the need to inject venom all the time.
With the claw-like structure called chelicerae, which sticks out from their mouths, scorpions can pull out small amounts of food from their prey. It is very useful to them because it helps them to dispose of the solid matter of their prey since scorpions can ingest only the liquid or soft part.
What eats scorpions?
Certain insects, birds, mammals, and animals pose a threat to the scorpions. Let’s take a look at the scorpion predators.
- Mongoose – Mongooses are infamous for preying on some of the poisonous animals and scorpions are no different. In search of food, mongooses even attack poisonous creatures that no other mammals dare to approach. Mongooses observe scorpion movements, dodges the incoming attacks, strikes them back, and ultimately kills them within seconds.
- Meerkats – These are small, adorable creatures that attack scorpions with little effort. A meerkat observes the movements of the scorpion and waits for the right time to attack them back. It strikes the tail of the scorpions first because it reduces the chances of attacking the meerkat with its venom.
- The Amazonian giant centipede – Found in South America and the Caribbean, the giant centipede can grow over one foot long and are very aggressive. Moreover, it has a deadly venom that makes it a worthy opponent to most animals, even snakes, and scorpions. With their long and hard shell body, scorpions are no match for the giant centipede.
- Tarantulas – While scorpions and tarantulas are both arachnids, they fight each other. Tarantulas are bigger and have big poison-filled fangs with hairs all around their body that acts as sensors. Moreover, they are faster and stronger, and that helps them attack scorpions with little effort.
- Bats – The first thing is that bats are immune to scorpion venom. Moreover, they can know the exact location of a scorpion even in the dark. That makes them an effective attackers. Most of the bat’s diet consists of scorpions.
- The Southern Ground Hornbill – This African native bird has a large beak that attacks and weakens scorpions in no time. After the scorpion no longer sustains the attack and becomes weak, the hornbill swallows it with ease.
- Owls – Known for hunting quickly, accurately, and silently, owls are powerful predators especially during the night. As such, owls snatch scorpions even without fighting. The powerful beaks take care of the work.
- The Southern Grasshopper Mouse – Because of the unique defense system, the Southern Grasshopper Mouse is another potential scorpion predator. The mouse’s body interacts with the venom and prevents the spread of pain signals throughout the body. Therefore, without feeling pain, scorpions barely have a chance to survive against the mouse.
Brief biology about scorpions
Most scorpions measure between one and five inches in length. However, the smallest scorpions have the deadliest venom. The largest scorpion in the world is an African long-tailed one that measures more than 8 inches. The giant, hairy dessert scorpions found in the US can grow up to a length of 5 inches.
Regardless of its size, a scorpion has an average lifespan of about 3 to 5 years with some species that can live up to 25 years. Scorpions have body parts that help them to survive and hunt. The pincer claws help the scorpions to defend against predators and grab their prey.
These are called pedipalps. While they can help them to walk, these aren’t legs. Behind them are the four pairs of legs that allow scorpions to chase their prey or scare away them. Their body is made up of two regions: the cephalothorax and the abdomen.
The head shield called carapace protects the cephalothorax where its eyes are located. While most scorpions have 2 to 5 pairs of eyes, some of them have no eyes. So, the scorpions without eyes live in caves and rely on their senses. The hairs present on their body acts as tiny sensors that alert them of their prey or whenever they are in danger.
Apart from these, the scorpions can sense surface vibration. Their abdomen has 12 different segments with the final five commonly referred to as “tail”. The tip contains the deadly venom that serves to paralyze other forms of life.
Scorpions have a kind of fluorescence compound within their body. When illuminated by natural moonlight or ultraviolet light, scorpions tend to glow a blue-green color. While the benefits of fluorescence are yet to be discovered, some speculate that it might act as a sunscreen or assist them in finding mates.
However, new researches have surfaced that explains the fluorescence compound from the scorpion’s exoskeleton protects them from certain parasites. It is over 60 years that scientists first recognized a scorpion’s ability to glow under ultraviolet light because of the compounds 7-hydroxy-4-methylcoumarin and carboline.
This compound is found on their hard outer shell. However, researchers wonder whether there might be other fluorescence compounds with unique chemical properties until they find one. It was phthalate ester, which has anti-parasitic and antifungal properties. This molecule found in several scorpion species helps them guard against parasitic infections.
There is no question that scorpion stings are very painful and sometimes life-threatening. Moreover, elderly people and children are vulnerable to serious complications. The bark scorpion mostly found on the Southwest desert in the US has potential venom that can cause serious symptoms.
About 30 species of scorpions out of the estimated 1500 produce toxic venom that is considered lethal for humans. With over a million scorpion stings that take place each year, deaths from scorpion stings are a major health issue that raises concern in areas where medical care is very limited.
While adults don’t have to undergo specialized treatment, a scorpion sting can be deadly for younger children. Symptoms from scorpion stings include numbness, extreme pain, and slight swelling.
Other symptoms that occur in children might include difficulty in breathing, sweating, muscle twitching, high blood pressure, vomiting, accelerated heart rate, and grief-stricken crying. Seek proper medical care if a scorpion stings you or your children.
Do humans eat scorpions?
Humans eat different types of insects and scorpions is no different. These can be exotic food in many regions of the world. While scorpions on sticks might look scary but they taste delicious according to many people. So, if you are wondering how it tastes like, you can compare it to crispy French fries.
Moreover, edible scorpions are much healthier. While there are several benefits of consuming scorpions, supplying your body with certain nutrients is the most important one. Scorpion meat contains more than 50% protein. Scorpions can be cooked in many ways and it includes grilled, fried, roasted, or even eaten alive.
Fried scorpions are a popular recipe in the US. The stingers on the scorpions aren’t removed while frying because they aren’t poisonous anymore when exposed to heat. It might be unusual for anyone to try a different kind of food the first time.
However, it changes over time. Moreover, having diversity in your food exposes you to more nutrients that you may miss while sticking to your favorite food.
Scorpions as pets
While scorpions aren’t cuddly, you can keep them as pets. Scorpions are clean, quiet, and require low maintenance. Apart from that, the most common pet species aren’t dangerous compared to other scorpion species. While their stings are quite similar to a bee string, serious anaphylactic reactions might happen in some people.
So, if you are interested in having a different kind of experience, there are certain scorpion species that you can keep as pets. These include Emperor, Red Clawed, Malaysian Black, Desert Hairy, Large Clawed, and Asian Forest scorpions.
Handling a pet scorpion might be daunting and poses a threat. You may get pinched or your pet might injure by running here and there or falling. If you need to remove your pet scorpion, use foam-tipped and long forceps.
Knowing more about scorpions will make you worry less even when they enter your house. Although scorpions are good for the environment, they are very scary and some of them could be deadly. So, if you see a scorpion inside your home, try to place a bucket over them and call scorpion control services.