The common name ‘Southern or Wood Scorpion’ is applied to scorpions that belong to the genus Cercophonius, of which there are at least six species in Australia.
Cercophonius squama is a 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 25–40 mm, and the body pattern is variegated, consisting of patches of different shades of brown on a lighter background.
Cercophonius squamaPhotographer: Rodney Start / Source: Museum Victoria
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 10 mm in body length.
The sting of the Southern or Wood Scorpion can cause inflammation and pain for several hours, and medical advice should be sought.
Koch, L. E. 1977. The taxonomy, geographic distribution and evolutionary radiation of Australo-Papuan scorpions. Records of the Western Australian Museum 5(2):83–367.
Walker, K. L., Yen, A. L. and Milledge, G. A. 2003. Spiders and Scorpions commonly found in Victoria. Royal Society of Victoria, Melbourne.
scorpions have no interest in people so a sting usually results either from accidental interaction, i.e. standing on a scorpion or if people try to handle them and the animal feels under threat. We get many enquiries on scorpions and not one that I can remember has involved someone being stung. So despite the fact that they can be relatively common in some areas as long as people treat them with respect and are aware of their behaviours and habits, it seems stings are rare.
If you or someone in your family is stung we recommend you seek medical advice but the scorpions in Australia are not considered highly dangerous like some of the species in other countries.
Its unlikely that they would be up in the ceiling as they are usually ground dwelling creatures - it is far more likely that they are coming in under outside doors. Otherwise, they could also be brought in by a pet (dog/cat), or plants that are transferred from outside to inside, particularly if there is garden/mulch near these rooms.
Hi Zacc, thanks for your enquiry. We suggest you look at some online stores when looking to purchase scorpions. If they are sold by these online stores, they are probably captive bred or responsibliy collected. Perhaps consider contacting The Green Scorpion.
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sorry to hear about your wife being stung; she has been very unlucky as we get many enquiries to the Museum regarding scorpions and I can't remember the last time someone contacted us having been stung. Unfortunately the Museum is not involved in pest control so I can't say whether spraying will definitely exclude them and if so how long this may remain effective for. If you want to go ahead with treatment try to ring at least three professional pest control companies and see what sort of guarantees, services they can offer you.
Scorpions can also be brought into the home under bark, so if you have a pile of wood for an open fire, this may also be a way of inadvertently bringing them in.
Hi Carol - the species of scorpion found in Australia are not considered to be dangerous, although they can give a painful sting. More information on these fascinating creatures can be found at our information sheet here: http://museumvictoria.com.au/discoverycentre/infosheets/scorpion-facts-and-fallacies/
or a fact sheet from the Australian Museum here:
Evan - another method that can help with keeping scorpions outside of the house is to install draught excluders on external doors. Tony - Museum Victoria specialises in the distribution of insect species within Victoria. Might you try the SA Museum regarding your Loxton enquiry?
scorpions are found in Tasmania and as in Melbourne they can be quite common. Finding one on the doona would give you a scare; you can try those draft excluders if you think they may be wandering in under the door. Also be aware that they may be brought into the home under the bark on firewood.
Hi Beau - There are 9 known species of scorpion in Australia, and whilst they are fairly common, they do not generally seek to come indoors, rather coming in accidentally. Draught excluders along doors can help prevent further unwanted visitors! The links given in a previous reply will give you more information about their habits and habitat.
Small scorpions like the wood scorpion do remain quite still if they are disturbed. This is often for 2 reasons: Over winter they are quite cold and they will minimise movement as their body temperatures are not warm enough to allow for high levels of activity. The other reason we see scorpions ‘playing dead’ when we disturb them is as a predator defence mechanism; they only tend to remain this way for a short period of time when they think pretending to be a piece of wood is working, then we find that they will suddenly become very active and will make a big effort to get away.
The group of animals you observed scattering away from under a neighbouring log are unlikely to be the young of this scorpion. The only time they are clustered as a group is upon the females back. Once they have moulted and left the females back they disperse and if they encounter each other they are more likely to have each other for dinner rather than hang out together.
All scorpions are predators. Your wood scorpion in the wild would be feeding on a range of small insects and other invertebrates it finds in your backyard. If you can find some small insects such as grasshoppers and cockroaches from the backyard you can offer them to the scorpion. Make sure the food you offer them is around 1/3 the size of your pet.
Hi Russ, the mature female scorpion is generally larger and more robust than the male, but the sting at the tip of their tail is generally shorter. The pincers and/or the tail are longer in males. The pectines, (sensory organs on the underside of the scorpion) are also longer and the teeth of the pectines are more bent in males. As you can see it is not easy to differentiate the sexes.
Hi Travis, we have looked into this and we have found that there is research being undertaken into the possible use of scorpion venom in new insecticides and cancer treatments. I could not find any reference to scorpion venom containing traces of metal. To follow this up you may want to contact the Australian Venom Research Unit.
Hi Jacob, the Live Exhibits Team have provided the following information for you. Scorpions are common throughout most backyards in Victoria and Tasmania, but they rarely enter houses as the air inside buildings is too dry and they die quite quickly. So you may have had scorpions in your house in Melbourne, but they never lasted long enough for you to find them. The scorpions found around Melbourne and Hobart are relatively harmless - their sting is no worse than a bee sting. Any large predatory invertebrate and any bird or small mammal will happily devour a scorpion - they have no particular predators that can be used to reduce their numbers. The best way is to keep them out, by reducing their entry points and by checking when bringing anything (such as firewood) from outside into the house.
Hi Michelle, sorry to hear that, your son has been quite unlucky. We get many enquiries about scorpions each year and almost none of them are to report a sting. Hope all are well, although I imagine the scorpion may not have been popular.
Hi Dean, the Southern or Wood Scorpion is the only species of scorpion found in Tasmania but we haven't found any evidence suggesting that it is not naturally occurring in Tasmania. As they are nocturnal, small and well camouflaged they often pass unnoticed by people. The Australian Venom Research Unit states that 'on a world scale Australian scorpions are relatively innocuous, with very few deaths reliably documented as related to scorpion stings. Local pain and swelling are the major clinical problems following Australian scorpion stings.'
Pets definitely feel pain if stung by a scorpion, whether or not it hurts them as much as it hurts us I don't think anyone knows.
Hi Hamish,Only tropical species require heating. Local species are best kept under local conditions, which means no additional heating.
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