In the Wild - The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Desert Hairy Scorpion: Hadrurus arizonensis
In the Wild
 Arachnid
o 2 body regions
 Cephalothorax
 Covered by a carapace
 Has a pair of median eyes and 2-5 pairs of lateral eyes at front
 Mouthparts called chelicerae
 Abdomen
 12 distinct segments with the last 5 comprising the “tail”
o At the end of the abdomen is the telson – a bulb shaped
structure which contains venom glands and a sharp curved
stinger to deliver the venom
o 4 pairs of legs and a pair of pedipalps (pinchers)
o On underside has a pair of unique comb-like sense organs called pectines
 Larger and bear more teeth in males
 Used to sense texture and vibration and serve as chemoreceptors for
 Size:
o Up to 5 inches
o Largest scorpion in North America
 Coloration:
o Generally pale yellow (sometimes brown or olive green)
o Small brown hairs stand erect on tails and are utilized to sense vibrations
Habitat and Range:
 Southwestern United States
o Grasslands, caves, wooded areas
 Usually eat insects, spiders, centipedes, small vertebrates and other scorpions
 Prey detected primarily by sensing vibrations with pectine organs and fine sensory hairs
on pedipalps – the set of pinchers near the scorpion’s head
 Ambush predators
 Forage in distinct and separate territories
 Adaptations for desert living
o Extra layer of lipids (molecules that repel water) on their exoskeleton –
minimizes water loss
o Nocturnal – spend hot days under rocks, wood, tree bark, in burrows or in other
cool, moist places
Desert Hairy Scorpion: Hadrurus arizonensis
o Derive most of their water from their food (though they have been seen drinking
from water reservoirs)
Chemoreceptors on pectines (specialized sensory organs) alert the scorpion to
approaching prey
Hairs covering the body detect air and ground vibrations
o Quick, accurate stinging action using tail if it is disturbed/feels threatened and in
prey capture
o Considered aggressive and will sting frequently though their venom is fairly mild
and will have little effect on humans barring an allergic reaction (akin to a bee
o Scorpion venom is a complex mix of neurotoxins and other substances
 20 years
Ecosystem relationships:
 Predators: Elf owl and other nocturnal birds, bats, small mammals, large spiders,
centipedes and lizards
 Complex mating ritual
o Male uses pedipalps to grasp female’s pedipalps
o Male leads female in a “courtship dance,” the details of which vary from species
to species of scorpion
 Some exhibit a deliberate and prolonged “sexual sting” by the male
 Sperm contained in a structure called spermatophore and is deposited by the male on a
surface over which the female is pulled
 Long gestation period
o From several months to over a year depending on the species of scorpion
o Young develop as embryos in the female ovary-uterus and are born live
 After birth, young ascend to mothers back
o Female will fold legs to form a “birth basket” to catch young as they are born and
assist them in climbing onto her back
 Average female gives birth to 25-35 young
 Young remain on the female’s back until they molt for the first time
o Some will climb down to molt and return to mother’s back for several days
o Within 1-3 weeks will leave mother’s back for good and assume an independent
 Periodically molt until they reach adulthood
o Typically 5 or 6 molts over 2-6 years in order to reach maturity
Desert Hairy Scorpion: Hadrurus arizonensis
Other “fun facts”:
 Scorpions are the oldest known terrestrial arthropods
o Have been on earth for 430 million years
 Scorpions fluoresce under UV light
Conservation Status and Threats:
 Common
 Collection for pet trade
 Considered a pest species in Southwestern U.S.
At the Zoo
Sandy hatched in 2010 and was purchased from a dealer as a juvenile in 2011.
What We Can Do
Manage scorpion populations by modifying area around the home rather than using
o Remove all harborages such as trash, logs, stones, bricks or other objects from
around buildings
o Keep grass closely mowed and prune bushes
o Minimize low growing ground cover vegetation
Do your research before buying a pet
o Make sure you are not purchasing a wild-caught individual. Captive-bred species
are often easy to find.
o Make sure you know how to properly care for any animal before you decide to
buy it as a pet
 Some things to consider include adequate housing, diet, temperature
requirements and lifespan
 Some pets also require a lot of time and money to be properly cared for
Make environmentally responsible lifestyle decisions to help conserve habitat –
conserve energy, reduce litter and pollution
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