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Scorpions are from the spider family. There are about 2,000 species of scorpions but only about 45 of them have poison strong enough to kill people. All scorpions can inject poison from a telson (stinger) with venom glands at the end of their tail.

In Australia there are thought to be more than 100 species of scorpion and although they can be found in a wide variety of habitats all over the country, very little is known about these native creepy crawlies. One thing that is well known is how popular pet scorpions have become. Owners say these invertebrates are fascinating to watch and are low maintenance and low cost to keep. Over the past five years scorpions have been increasingly available in pet shops specialising in unusual pets and they are now easily obtainable in both New South Wales and Queensland. However, accurate information on how best to handle and care for scorpions is not as easy to come by.

Scorpions, like spiders, are arachnids with four pairs of true legs. They have pincer like pedipelps (claws) and have an elongated abdomen with a telson on the end of the tail. Scorpions are found all over Australia in habitats as diverse as deserts, salt lakes and rainforest trees. All scorpions are predacious but are not aggressive to humans unless provoked.

Fossils of animals that look like scorpions show that these animals have been around for millennia. In all that time, they have not changed very much.

Scorpions can be found in many countries of the world. Australian scorpions are not as poisonous as those found in Africa or North America. A sting might hurt for a few hours. The victim might need some treatment for pain but there should be no long lasting effects. In Australia, these interesting little animals can be found in rainforests, deserts woodlands and even in cities.

They are not seen during the day because they come out in the hours of darkness. During the day, scorpions hide under rocks or logs. In some places like the south-west of Australia, they dig burrows in the soft sand.

In Australia scorpions are almost entirely nocturnal (night dwelling), hunting for other small animals. They like spiders and insects the best. The scorpion grasps the animal in its pedipelps. Then the poisonous sting bends right over the front of the head and stings the hunted animal.

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In turn, scorpions can become food for other nocturnal hunters. Lizards and birds are their main hunters.

Arid and semi-arid deserts have the largest number of scorpion species, but they are also found in cooler and wetter habitats. There are nine known species of scorpions found in Victoria.

Scorpions can have between six and twelve eyes. Two of the eyes are in the middle of its back. Even so, they can't see very well. Instead, they can feel the smallest vibrations of other animals moving in the darkness.

Adult scorpions can be 7–12 cms (2.7–4.7ins) long. Some species grow bigger than others and there are many different species in across Australia. Some species are black. Some are dark brown and others are a brown-orange colour. They have eight walking legs and a pair of powerful pincers. The body or carapace of a scorpion is covered with a hard shell. They have no internal bones. The body is divided into seven sections and the tail has five sections.

The male scorpion grasps the female. He lays a sperm packet on a ground or a piece of wood. Then he drags the female over the sperm packet and she draws it into her. In some species of scorpion, by the end of mating, all that is sometimes left of the male scorpion is a few pieces of hard shell. The rest is gone. It has been eaten by the female.

The young are not born for many months; often between six and twelve depending on the species of scorpion. The baby scorpions are born alive. There are usually more than a dozen babies. They crawl out of their mother's body through a small opening just behind the mother's head. The babies are white. They cling to their mother's back and are carried around by her until they are old enough to care for themselves, usually a couple of weeks or until they moult for the first time. Sometimes the mother will eat a few of her babies.

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The young will moult about six times until they are fully grown. (Moulting means they shed their hard skin. Their skin does not grow with their body, so they shed their skin and grow a new one.) It might take eighteen months or more before they are fully grown and capable of breeding.

Southern or Wood Scorpion (Cercophonius Squama) of which there are at least six species in Australia. It is widespread South-Eastern Australian Species, found in south-eastern South Australia, Victoria, eastern NSW, the ACT and Tasmania. It is one of three species of scorpions known to occur in the greater Melbourne region. The body length, including the tail, ranges from 25–40mm (1–1.6ins), and the body pattern is variegated, consisting of patches of different shades of brown on a lighter background.

It lives in burrows under plant litter on the ground; shallow burrows if occupancy is temporary and deeper ones if occupancy is longer. It can also live under the bark of standing trees, preferring eucalypts. Cercophonius Squama can live for more than three years. It feeds on small invertebrates generally less than 10mm (0.4ins) in body length.

The sting of the Southern or Wood Scorpion can cause inflammation with pain for several hours, medical advice should be sought.

The average lifespan of a scorpion is anywhere from 2 to 8 years.

Some scorpions can live without water for several months and can go without food for up to a year.

Scorpions have florescent materials on their shell. With ultraviolet light, they fluoresce (glow).

Young scorpions are more aggressive and likely to attack the older scorpions.

Scorpions like snug and tight spaces. That’s why when a scorpion happens to enter a house, one popular place to find comfort is in shoes!

Sources: Victoria Museum: Southern or Wood, Facts and Fallacies. Burkes Backyard. Elton.


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 Found in InDaysOfYore/Knights.


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