Learn all about this awesome arachnid!
Are you ready to meet a super-cool critter with a serious sting in its tale? Then check out our fascinating scorpion facts!
Fast scorpion facts
Scientific name: Scorpiones
Family name: Scorpionoidea
IUCN status: Not evaluated
Lifespan (in wild): 5 years
Body size: 6cm
Habitat: Most common in deserts and dry grassland
Scorpions are arachnids and have eight legs like their cousins – spiders, mites and ticks. They look a bit like small lobsters, equipped with a pair of pincers and a thin, segmented tail that curves over their back. These cool critters can be found on every continent around the world, except Antarctica, but they’re most common in deserts and areas of hot, dry lands.
Fearsome predators, scorpions have an impressive method for catching their grub. When hungry, a scorpion will quickly grab its prey with its pincers, and then whip its telson – the poisonous tip of their tail – forward to sting and kill the doomed victim. Ouch! These awesome arachnids typically eat insects (although some eat spiders, lizards and small rodents, too), and each species has a special type of venom that works well against the chosen prey.
Scorpions don’t only use their stings to kill their prey – they use it to defend themselves against predators, too, such as snakes, lizards and birds. Whilst the venom of most scorpions is only powerful enough to kill small creatures, there are around 30-40 species with a sting strong enough to kill a human. Thankfully, humans aren’t on the scorpion’s menu, and these quirky critters will only attack if they feel threatened. Phew!
Equipped with seriously super survival skills, these amazing creatures live in some of our planet’s toughest environments. When food is scarce, scorpions can slow down their metabolism (the process animals use to get energy from food) so much so that they are able to live off just one insect per year! And they can withstand incredibly harsh climates, too, both hot and cold. Believe it or not, researchers have frozen scorpions overnight, only to put them in the sun the next day and watch them thaw out and walk away. In the hot, dry deserts, where many species live, scorpions cope with the scorching heat of the sun by burrowing beneath the sand or soil.
Scorpions have been around since before the age of the dinosaurs, and scientists think they may even have been the first animals to move from water to land hundreds of millions of years ago. Prehistoric fossils of scorpions found in Scotland show that their appearance hasn’t changed over the millennia. They have, however, changed in size with today’s scorpions measuring half the size of their ancient ancestors.