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

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 »

Scorpions as Pets – an Overview of their Care

Buthus ScorpionI 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 »

Windscorpions (Camel Spiders, Sun Scorpions) – the Fiercest Arachnids?

SolifugaeWindscorpions give pause to even die hard Arachnid fans – their formidable chelicerae (jaws) are disproportionately large, and they move with unbelievable speed.  These odd Arachnids (Order Solifugae), which are neither scorpions nor spiders, are not easy to keep.  However, if you are a serious Arachnid keeper looking for a new challenge, Windscorpions are definitely worth a closer look.

Range and Reputation

The world’s 1,000+ Windscorpion species favor deserts and other warm, arid habitats.  They are absent from Australia but otherwise widespread…a number dwell in Florida and the American Southwest.  They are among the most active of Arachnids – and their appetites are insatiable.

When out by day, Windscorpions stay to the shadows…their habit of following people, in order to stay shaded, has earned them a quite bad reputation in North Africa.  However, while Windscorpions do not actively chase people, their huge, ragged jaws can deliver painful bites, and they should only be handled with tongs.

Keeping Windscorpions

Success in keeping these little-studied invertebrates has been mixed at best.  Several species appear regularly in the trade (i.e. Eremobates spp.), but none can be considered easy captives.

Wind ScorpionWindscorpions must be kept dry, and they need a great deal of room – more than twice that of similarly-sized scorpions and spiders.  A secure, undisturbed environment, stocked with artificial caves and cork bark retreats, is essential   A sandy substrate, into which some species will burrow, will also help them to feel at home.  Temperature requirements vary by species, but an ambient of 85 F with a warmer area of 92-95 F will suffice for most.

Fast Metabolisms

Windscorpion appetites are huge – no once per week feeding for these beasts!  Instead, experiment with every-other-day or even daily feedings, providing all they will take.  As we know little of their nutritional requirements, vary the diet as much as possible…crickets, roaches, sow bugs, waxworms and wild-caught moths, grasshoppers and other invertebrates will all be eagerly accepted.

You can also try tong-feeding them canned invertebrates (one look at their other-worldly jaws will convince you of the wisdom of using feeding tongs)!

Folks working with Windscorpions have a real opportunity to contribute to what little we know about these most unusual creatures. 


Further Reading

Tailless Whipscorpions are equally odd relatives of the Windscorpions, and easier to keep in captivity.  To learn more, please see Tailless Whipscorpions – the Weirdest Invertebrates?

You can check out the imposing jaws of a Windscorpion in this video.


Wind Scorpion image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Vijaybarve

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