Scorpions belong to the arachnid group (invertebrates with four pairs of legs and two body parts) along with such animals as spiders, ticks and mites. They are distinguished from other arachnids because they possess a large pair of pincers and a tail with a venomous sting on the tip. They are a very primitive group that has existed with the same basic body plan for some 450 million years.
Scorpion, Urodacus sp.Photographer: Alan Henderson / Source: Minibeast Wildlife
Some of the interesting biological features of scorpions include:
This latter factor is one of the reasons why scorpions have survived for such a long time – they spend most of their lives resting under rocks, pieces of wood, or in burrows and expend very little energy. This results is the need for only occasional meals.
World-wide there are 1500 known species of scorpions. Australia has about 80 species (although many have yet to be named scientifically), and Victoria has nine known species. They are widely distributed. Many people are under the impression that scorpions are desert creatures, but although there are many more species in the drier parts of Australia, scorpions are found in quite cool and wet regions of Australia.
Scorpions are often feared because of the sting on their tail and the potential lethal nature of the venom. Several thousand people die each year from scorpion stings, but these deaths are from the stings of about 25 species that inhabit 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, but 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.
A Scorpion sting (SEM)Photographer: Dr Ken Walker / Source: Museum Victoria
Walker, K. L., Yen, A. L. and Milledge, G. A. 2003. Spiders and Scorpions commonly found in Victoria. Royal Society of Victoria: Melbourne.
Hi Isobel, scorpions excrete through the anus, generally in the form of nitrogenous waste. A simple internet search should provide you with many online resources.
It is possibly a baby scorpion, or a species that is quite small even as adults. The other likely animal it could be is pseudo scorpion. Pseudo scorpions are small and do not have the ‘tail’ of normal scorpions but they do have the two obvious pincers at the front of their bodies.
Hi Josie, the information written above may be able to help you, as well as the links in the top right hand corner. In addition here are a few interesting sites on scorpions that you may be able to use for your school project, click here, here and here. We have forwarded your enquiry regarding venom and pincer size to our Live Exhibits Department, and will post an answer as soon as we hear from them.
Hi Josie, the size of the scorpion is not the only indicator of the amount of venom it contains. A great little trick to know is to look at its pincers (claws) and compare them to the size of the tail (sting). If it has really big claws and a small sting it is indicating that it uses power rather than venom to subdue its prey and tends to be less potent a venom. If you look up a Rainforest Scorpion and a Spider Hunting Scorpion on the internet and look at photos you will be able to work out which one relies on venom and which normally just uses power.
The museum does not provide eradication advice perhaps you can contact your environmental officer at your local council for further advice.
Scorpions will take moving prey of any size up to and including their own size, but generally cope best with prey about one third of their body size or less. They naturally feed on ground-dwelling invertebrates such as crickets and beetle larvae (mealworms), so moths may be difficult for them to catch but other than that there is no reason not to feed moths to scorpions.
Hi Peter, thanks for your query - our Live Exhibits department have suggested the following:
The predators of scorpions include birds, small mammals, reptiles and invertebrates such as centipedes and other scorpions. In some areas rodents can have a significant impact, so a sudden reduction in rats and mice may lead to an increase in scorpions, although the connection may be tenuous. Scorpion numbers are affected by many factors and due to their slow metabolism, population responses tend to be slow. But the presence or absence of rodents could certainly be a factor.
Hope this helps
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The Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has a recording of a Bush rat on their Bush rat webpage.
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