All scorpions possess a venomous sting. Several thousand people die each year from scorpion stings, but this mortality is due to the venom of about 25 species located in northern Africa, the Middle East, India, Mexico and parts of South America. None of these potentially lethal species occur in Australia. The Australian species can inflict a painful sting that results in swelling and pain for several hours, and there have not been any confirmed deaths of people from stings from Australian scorpions. Medical advice should be sought if you are stung by a scorpion.
Black Desert Scorpion Photographer: Alan Henderson. Source: Museum Victoria
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.
The venomous sting is located at the tip of the long tail. The pair of large pincers at the head end of the body are used to catch prey.
A Scorpion sting (SEM)Photographer: Dr Ken Walker. Source: Museum Victoria
Scorpions do fluoresce in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet (‘black’) light. This is due to the presence of a mixture of complex sugars and waxes that act as waterproofing compounds in the exoskeleton.
Scorpion under ultraviolet (UV) light. Photographer: Alan Henderson. Source: Minibeast Wildlife
No. Scorpions, like all animals, panic when confronted by fire and thrash their tail around.
Scorpions do not mate directly, but the male deposits a packet of sperm on the ground, and guides the female by holding her pincers with his pincers to move over the ground and the sperm package is picked up by the female genital opening during this ‘dance’.
Scorpions give birth to live young which then spend the early stage of their life on the back of their mother.
Keegan, H. L. 1980. Scorpions of medical importance. University Press of Mississippi: Jackson.
Lawless, P. 1998. Lo! what light ... Wildlife Australia 35 (2):17-20.
Locket, A. 1994. Night stalkers. Australian Natural History 24(9):54-59.
Polis, G. A. (ed). 1990. The biology of scorpions. Stanford University Press: Stanford.
Walker, K. L., Yen, A. L. and Milledge, G. A. 2003. Spiders and Scorpions commonly found in Victoria. Royal Society of Victoria: Melbourne.
Firstly you should be aware that it's illegal to keep Emperor Scorpions (Pandinus imperator) under any circumstances in Australia. Unless you're referring to a different species or you're emailing from outside Australia, the scorpions should be immediately handed in to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Regarding the deaths, we have never heard of this situation. Emperor Scorpions (and many other species) will live quite happily in large groups, without any antagonism between individuals. Where there is antagonism or predation, the victim will almost always be completely dismembered rather than just having the telson removed.
A good book for general scorpion husbandry is Newton, Mark A., 2008, A Guide to Keeping Australian Scorpions in Captivity, Mark A. Newton Publishing, Adelaide.
Firstly, overexposure to UV breaks down the scorpion’s ability to reflect it (glow), so if there is a purpose to glowing then too much UV negates that purpose. Secondly, one possible reason scorpions fluoresce is to detect and therefore avoid UV. If they spend their life avoiding it, they probably have good reason. Many scorpion keepers shine UV regularly on their scorpions but they tend not to do it constantly. So to be safe it’s best to shine UV for short periods only.
Hi Sarah, we ran this past our Live Exhibits team here at the Museum, and they've responded as follows:
Black Rock Scorpions do eat Portuguese Millipedes and are one of the few animals that do. However, scorpions have a very low metabolism and consequently require little food to keep them going. So you’ll never have enough Black Rock Scorpions around to make a dint in the Portuguese Millipede population. But at least they’re on the side of good.
The book 'A Guide to Keeping Scorpions in Captivity' by Mark Newton has many tips for scorpion husbandry.
Hi Ashley - here's a response to your question from our Live Exhibits workgroup:
Although a scorpion’s sting is essential for its survival in the wild, it won’t use the sting unless necessary for subduing prey. If you offer prey such as small crickets that are significantly smaller than the scorpion (a fifth of its body size or less), the scorpion should have no problem subduing the prey with its nippers alone.
Hope that helps!
Our entomologist has noted if there was any venom released into the water it would be a very small amount and the water would most likely just contain rotting scorpion. He doesn't think that it will cause any damage to skin. As to it still being poisonous, he would say no, and, as Scorpion venom is injected there are no muscles alive to pump out any venom if you were to inadvertently prick yourself with the pointy end.
We love receiving comments, but can’t always respond.
Thanks for your query regarding the molting habits of scorpions. According to a publication titled 'Spiders and Scorpions commonly found in Victoria' by Ken Walker et al and published by the Royal Society of Victoria “Immature Urodacus yaschenkoi (Desert Scorpion) will moult every year in summer until they reach adulthood.....adults do not appear to moult”. This link contains some general information on scorpions that may interest you http://australianmuseum.net.au/Scorpions
Just because the scorpion may be small does not mean it is only a baby. We have lots of different species of scorpions in Australia ranging from very small to quite large. It is often the small ones with small claws yet large tails that can hurt quite a lot if they sting. We recommend that you first try to get your new little pet identified, and our identification service is a good place to start. Second get it into a new enclosure that mimics the environment it came from. They can make fascinating pets to watch and learn about. Enjoy!
Hi Consuelo, species of scorpion that are found in Australia are not considered highly dangerous, although we still recommend seeking medical advice in the event of a sting. Scorpions feed on other invertebrates and should have no interest in people. We are not experts in species from North America so it may be worth you contacting the California Museum to ask them regarding the local fauna in your area.
Hi Michaela, if you still have the dead scorpion please feel free to place it in a small plastic container that won't get crushed in the post, like a pill jar. Then send this with your contact details to Discovery Centre PO Box 666 Melbourne and we will happily try and identify it for you. Remember that regardless of the species scorpions have no interest in people and will not seek them out to sting.
Hi Luke, the Museum is not involved in pest control so we don't know whether your plan with spray would deter scorpions or also how long it would last for. You may want to try those draft excluders if you have large gaps under the door. Scorpions may wander in looking for food or they can also be brought into the house under the bark of wood. In the meantime just take precautions like turn the light on and have a look at the floor if you get up in the night and walk around in bare feet.
the ideal captive food is live Indian House Crickets – this species can be purchased online or through most pet shops stocking reptiles and invertebrates. It is best to feed the scorpion crickets which about ¼ - 1/3 the body size of the scorpion.
Hi Jessica. There's plenty of information on how to deal with scorpion in various of the replies above. If you see the scorpion again, don't kill it, but put it in a jar and move it away from the house at a safe distance. Australian scorpions sting but aren't dangerous. You would only be stung if you happened to step on it. The Australian Museum has a great info page on scorpions. If you're interested in getting further information about the species of scorpion that you've found, we have free identification service.
Hello Rachel. Check out this info-sheet about the Black Rock Scorpion which is present in both Victoria and Queensland. For further information about sting protection, first aid and the safe removal of specimens, see this informative website at the Australian Museum. Hope this helps!
It is possible that you may have additional scorpions in your garden which may occasionally wander inside. However bear in mind that they have no interest in people and that as long as you make sure you don't step on them if you get up in the night your chances of being stung are very low. We get many enquiries at the Museum about scorpions and I can't remember the last one that involved someone actually being stung.
Hi, Damien. Specimens for research are generally sourced independently by the Museum. However, if you're interested in getting further information about the species of scorpion that you've found, you can do so using our free identifications service. Further information about this service is available here.
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