Scorpion, an animal related to spiders, mites, and ticks. The scorpion lives in warm, dry regions and in the tropics. It is most commonly found in southern Europe, Africa, the western and southwestern United States, and the tropical regions of the Western Hemisphere. There are about 1,500 species of scorpions, ranging from about 1/2 inch to 10 inches (1.3 to 25 cm) in length. About 70 species are found in the United States. These scorpions are usually about 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.5 cm) in length.Scorpion venom can be deadly to many animals, including humans.
A scorpion's long, slender body consists of a cephalothorax (joined head and thorax) with six pairs of appendages and an abdomen. The first two pairs of appendages are used for catching and mashing prey and for transferring it to the mouth; the last four pairs are legs. The abdomen is a flexible structure made up of 12 segments; it ends in a sharp, hollow, venom-injecting stinger.
During the day, the scorpion rests in an underground burrow. It emerges at night to feed on insects and spiders, which it immobilizes and kills with the sting. The sting is also used when the scorpion is threatened; the venom of some species is deadly to many large animals, including humans.
Most scorpions are solitary and will attempt to kill and eat other scorpions that invade their territory. Prior to mating, the male and female grasp each other's claws and perform a courtship dance. Several months after mating, the female gives birth to 6 to 90 young, which are born live one at a time over a period of weeks. They climb upon the mother's back and cling there for about a month before molting and going off on their own. A scorpion reaches maturity in one to five years.
According to fossil records, the scorpion has been in existence for about 400 million years. Fossil remains reveal very little change between the ancient and the present-day scorpion.
Like spiders, scorpions (SKAWR pee uhnz) are arachnids. They have two main body parts and eight legs. And like spiders, scorpions have hairs, called bristles, along their legs. These bristles feel vibrations on the ground. They tell the scorpion, which has poor vision, when prey is near.
Most scorpions are larger than spiders. Their body parts are larger, too. Look at the scorpion’s head. Instead of spider fangs, a scorpion has pincers that grab and tear prey. Instead of leglike palps, a scorpion has a large set of claws that hold and crush prey.
Now look at the scorpion’s body. The last few segments of the scorpion’s abdomen form a long “tail.”
A scorpion often kills its prey with venom. But a scorpion doesn’t use fangs to deliver its poison. It uses the stinger at the end of its tail. First, the scorpion grabs its prey with its claws. Then it raises its tail up and over its head to sting its prey.
The sting of a scorpion is very powerful. It kills insects and spiders instantly. And it can be deadly to larger animals. Still, many animals—such as lizards, snakes, owls, and mammals—feed on scorpions.Scorpions are nocturnal animals. They hunt and feed mostly at night. During the day, scorpions hide among rocks, in cracks on the ground, and under the bark of trees. A scorpion’s sting can be painful, but most scorpions are not dangerous to humans.
All female scorpions give birth to live young. And they take care of their young for a short time, too. A female scorpion carries her young on her back until they are ready to live on their own.
A female scorpion gives birth to a litter, or a group, of about 25 baby scorpions. Each scorpion is born with a thin layer of tissue around its body. With its mother’s help, the newborn breaks out of this thin sack. Then it crawls onto its mother’s back.
Newborn scorpions are pale in color. In the first few days of their lives, they are totally defenseless. They depend on their mothers for protection. Young scorpions stay with their mothers a week or more, until their first molt.
One look at a whip scorpion helps you decide how this animal got its name. It looks like a scorpion with a whip for a tail. But this arachnid is not a true scorpion. Its tail has no stinger.
Whip scorpions hunt for insects and other prey at night. Whip scorpions use their front claws as feelers to help them find their way. When a whip scorpion locates an insect, it uses its claws to grab and crush its prey.
A whip scorpion doesn’t have a sting to defend itself, but it does have strong claws. And those claws deliver a painful pinch! Some whip scorpions have another defense. These scorpions spray a mist from their tails. The mist is made of a vinegarlike acid that can hurt and burn an enemy.
Scorpions make up the order Scorpiones of the class Arachnida.