Top Ten Bizarre Facts About Scorpions

A couple of dancing scorpions photographed by prof.bizzarro on Flickr – and yes, I said dancing

I thought I knew everything there was to know about scorpions – they sting and they live in the desert.

To make a long story short, I was wrong. There is a lot more to scorpions than stinging and sunbathing, and after reading through this list, I doubt you’ll ever look at these wacky arachnids the same way again, either…

10. They have weird eating habits

Like other arachnids, scorpions have to drink their food rather than chew it. This basically means they need to dissolve their meals outside their stomachs before they can slurp it up. Nastiness.

Although all scorpions eat like this, not every species obtains its food by the same methods. All species can obviously sting their prey, but most choose to fight first with their strong pedipalps (pincers) to conserve their venom. Many scorpions are ambush predators, and will lie in wait for unsuspecting prey to wander by before attacking. Some species even create pitfall traps for their prey to stumble into!

Not all scorpions eat the same things, either – some feed on the predictable insects and spiders, while larger species may go after mice, birds, and even snakes!

9. There is one deadly species of scorpion in the United States

This one applies more to the U.S. readers, but yes, there is a species of scorpion in Arizona that can kill you. It’s called the Arizona bark scorpion. Fortunately you’ll be fine if you receive medical attention quickly, but all the same, I think I’ll stay on the East Coast.

8. They’re incredibly hardy

Scorpions are hardcore. They can survive underwater for up to two days, go a whole year without eating, and they absolutely thrive in the desert, one of the harshest environments on the planet. And those deadly bark scorpions? They survived atomic bomb tests in Nevada. Is there anything scorpions can’t do?

…Besides fly, of course. Thank goodness scorpions can’t fly. That would be a nightmare.

7. Scorpions can climb walls and ceilings

People who live where scorpions live – when do you plan on moving?

6. They live for a long time

Unlike many of the smaller arthropods, scorpions actually have pretty long lifespans. In the wild they can live up to ten years, and they’ve been known to live for twenty five years in captivity. Long lifespans, big claws, funny tails… shall we call them… desert lobsters…?

I know, I know, lobsters are crustaceans and scorpions are arachnids, but you’ve got to admit there’s a resemblance.

5. Scorpions dance with each other before mating

When a male scorpion finds a female scorpion, they hold each other’s pedipalps and waltz for up to several hours before deciding to mate. Who knew scary arachnids could be so romantic? Anyway, I know y’all want a video of this, so here it is.

4. They’re viviparous

That’s just a fancy way of saying they don’t lay eggs. Additionally, the female scorpion is an excellent mother who protects and takes care of her babies (called scorplings!) for up to two years, even hunting for them and carrying them around on her back like a scorpion school bus. I guess all those cowboy cartoons that had me thinking scorpions were just ruthless, stinging creatures were wrong – underneath that intimidating exoskeleton is a heart of gold.

3. They glow

Scorpions absorb UV light from the sun, which makes them glow blue under a black light because why not? The thought is that this glowing superpower might protect scorpions from sunlight, or perhaps assist them in hiding from prey they want to ambush or finding other scorpions. I don’t know, maybe it’s just to make them look cool. I wonder what else glows under a black light that we haven’t tested yet?

DO MULCH LOBSTERS GLOW?! We’ve gotta test this! Someone bring me a black light!

2. Their venom is a concoction of toxins

Scorpion venom isn’t just one specific poison. In fact, some species inject dozens of different substances with every sting, such as neurotoxins, hemolytic toxins, and a variety of other dangerous chemicals. Fortunately only 2% of all scorpion species can lethally sting humans, but I’m still going to try and keep my distance.

1. Scorpion venom is being used to combat diseases

Some of the compounds found in the venom of different scorpion species are actually being used to combat arthritis, cancer, and even malaria! If the cure for any of these ailments comes about as a result of scorpion venom, we ought to throw these little guys a parade or something.

And obviously the people who find that cure deserve oodles of parades, too. We’ll give them both parades, the researchers and the scorpions.

A glowing scorpion photographed by @khana_photo on Unsplash

There you have it – the top ten most bizarre facts I could find about scorpions. If you know of any other oddities about desert lobsters that I didn’t mention here, please let me know in the comments!

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