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Scorpions Surprise Biologists – New Scorpion Species near Tucson and In the Andes

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Approximately 2,000 scorpion species have been described, but most arachnologists believe that many more await discovery.  Few, however, expected an unknown species to turn up within sight of a major city in the USA.  But that is what happened earlier this year, and the discovery was unusual for other reasons as well.  Another noteworthy new scorpion species surfaced in the Ecuadorean Andes, a little-studied region long suspected of being a diversity hotspot for scorpions.  New Arachnids of all kinds are regularly discovered…please post our own news items and thoughts at the end of this article.

Vaejovis sp.

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Acrocynus

A Unique Scorpion from Arizona’s “Sky Islands”

One never knows where new invertebrates will appear.  In 2000, a new centipede was found in NYC’s Central Park, of all places.  Still, the discovery of a sizable scorpion now known as Vaejovis brysoni was surprising on several levels.  The scorpion was discovered accidentally, in an area of the Santa Catalina Mountains that had been well-studied (6 new species have been found there since 2006), and within sight of Arizona’s capitol city of Tuscan (please see photo).

Also very surprising is the fact that the new scorpion’s habitat is considered by biologists to be a “sky island”.  Sky islands are mountain tops that have become isolated from nearby mountains that contain similar habitats and species.  The valleys between the mountain tops prevent scorpions and other animals from breeding with one another.  Over time, these isolated populations evolve into distinct species.  Oddly, another scorpion of the same genus is already resident on V. brysoni’s “sky island”.  This is the first time that closely related animals have been found on the same mountain in this region.  Learning how 2 similar species survive in close proximity to one another should provide interesting insights into scorpion evolution. Read More »

“My Emperor Scorpion Has Babies…What Should I Do”?

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Emperor Scorpions give birth to live young, and most hobbyists are thrilled when this happens.However, scorpion reproduction breaks many of the “rules” that apply to other pets.For example, a female that has been alone for 14 months may one day be found with 30 tiny white youngsters, or “scorplings”, on her back!I’ve written about scorpion breeding and care in detail elsewhere (please see links below), but thought that an article describing what steps one should take when first discovering youngsters would be useful…especially if your female turns out to be a less-than-perfect mom and begins eating her new creations!Please also be sure to post your questions and concerns below, as scorpion births often take owners by surprise, and I’ll be sure to get right back to you.

Predicting Scorpion Births

In the wild, some Emperor Scorpion populations breed seasonally, while others may reproduce year-round.Captives can mate and give birth during any month of the year. Further complicating our ability to predict births is the fact that females seem able to both store sperm and delay giving birth if conditions are not ideal.Environmental factors such as temperature and stress may also affect the youngsters’ development.Even under ideal conditions, the gestation period may exceed 1 year, although a range of 7 to 10 months is more common.

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Scorpions as Pets – an Overview of their Care

Buthus ScorpionHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  I can’t remember a time when scorpions did not fascinate me, and their lure grows stronger with each new species I encounter.  In the past, I’ve written on the care and natural history of Emperor, Flat Rock, Asian Forest and other popular scorpions.  Today I’d like to present a general overview.  I hope it will help you to decide if a scorpion is the right choice for you and if so, how to get started. 

What’s in Store for Scorpion Fans

Among the world’s 2,000+ scorpion species we find an astonishing diversity of fascinating creatures, many of which make hardy pets that adjust well to small enclosures.  Several reproduce readily in captivity – lucky scorpion keepers may even be treated to the sight of a female feeding her offspring with crickets!  At least 15 species are established in the pet trade, and specialists are working with several others. Read More »

Treating Sick and Injured Emperor Scorpions

Scorpion with babiesHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Reptile and amphibian keepers know how hard it is to find veterinary care for their pets, but those who keep scorpions  face even greater difficulties.  I found one or two vets willing to experiment while working at the Bronx Zoo, but in private practice your options are just about non-existent.  What little we do know has resulted from trial and error, and is constantly evolving.

Pre-dating the dinosaurs, scorpions are a hardy lot, and rarely present us with health problems (at least any that we can identify). Spiders are a bit more prone to illness and injury, and some fine work has been done by private keepers (virtually none by vets, however).  Much of what follows is drawn from conversations with spider keepers, and from my own and others experiments in scorpion health care.  In this regard, Sam Marshall’s chapter on spider first aid in his fine book Tarantulas and Other Arachnids is a must read for scorpion fans. Read More »

World’s Largest Arachnids – Eight-Foot-Long Scorpions of Ancient Seas

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  While the Emperor Scorpion and the South African Flat Rock Scorpion are, by today’s standards, huge and impressive, they pale in comparison to their extinct relatives.  Imagine, if you will, an 8-foot-long scorpion sporting spiked claws that extended 2 feet from its body!  Well, thanks to newly uncovered fossil evidence, we need not imagine so hard – such fantastic beasts did indeed exist.  Known as Sea Scorpions or Pterygotid Eurypterids, some, such as Acutiramus, were larger than a person!

Natural History

Sea Scorpions are the ancestors of modern-day scorpions, and perhaps of all Arachnids.  Pre-dating the dinosaurs, they emerged approximately 470 million years ago, and roamed the seas (and fresh waters) for over 100 million years.  Read More »

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