Desert Hairy Scorpion Fact File
The desert hairy scorpion is the largest species of scorpion found in North America. Here they live in the south-west of the United States.
They are equipped with a pair of large pincers which are used to seize prey. As a carnivore they primarily feed on insects but they are capable of capturing a lizard and eating it.
These animals are venomous and can inject this through the stinger at the end of the body. This is used to subdue prey. In most humans this has little effect though with all venoms medical care should be sought if symptoms occur after envomation.
Read on to learn more about these amazing arachnids.
Desert hairy scorpions are the largest species of scorpion found in North America. They reach lengths of up to 1.4cm (5.5in) long with a weight of 4 to 7g (0.14-0.25oz).
Their name is drawn from the small, erect hairs which cover the tail. These sensory hairs are an adaptation allowing them to find prey.
The body of the desert hairy scorpion is colored tan or olive-green. The pedipalps, legs and tail are darker in color than the rest of the body.
As an arachnid the desert hairy scorpion is equipped with a total of eight legs. Their body is made up of two body parts known as the abdomen and cepholothorax.
At the front of the body are a large pair of pinchers which are an adaptation to allow them to catch, crush and tear apart their prey items.
Their body ends with a long tail which ends with a venomous stinger which is used to envenomate and subdue struggling prey.
Male and female desert hairy scorpions have similar appearance though males may have larger pincers.
Desert hairy scorpions are carnivores which will feed on insects and other arthropods. This includes other scorpions. Small animals such as lizards may also be consumed.
These animals are ambush predators waiting at their burrow and ambushing prey and killing it with the stinger when it is in striking distance.
The venom of the desert hairy scorpion is considered fairly weak compared to other scorpion species. As with all venomous animals medical treatment should be sought if stung.
North America is the native home of the desert hairy scorpion. Here they can be found in the southwest of the United States. Their range is mostly confined to the Sonoran and Mojave deserts.
As their name suggests the desert hairy scorpion is a resident of desert areas.
Much of their time is spent in an abandoned burrow, cave or crevice.
In parts of their range they live alongside humans in backyards where they take shelter under ornamental plants.
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Breeding takes place at night with no defined breeding season allowing young to be produced year round.
Prior to mating a male and female will grip one another by the pinchers and perform a dance together. Following this the male will deposit his sperm packet and then pull the female over it so she can take it in to her abdomen.
After mating the male will release the female and then he runs away from her. If the female can catch the male she will eat him and this provides energy for raising the young.
The young take 6 to 12 months for the litter of young to emerge. Each litter includes 25 to 35 young. Initially these live on the mother’s back until after their first molt at around three weeks old. At birth the small young are colored white.
This process of carrying the young is important as they cannot regulate their own temperature or moisture levels.
Adulthood is achieved at four years old. To reach this they undergo a number of molts of the exoskeleton.
Desert hairy scorpions are active by night when they will hunt under the cover of darkness. As they cannot see they will seek out prey by following vibrations.
During the day they will seek shelter in a hollow or under a rock.
These animals show an increase in activity during summer. When temperatures drop in winter they will enter a period of dormancy. As a desert dweller they will take shelter under rocks to avoid the heat of the day.
Desert hairy scorpions are considered solitary and will occupy their own burrow.
Predators and Threats
Natural predators of the desert hairy scorpion include lizards, owls and other scorpions.
Most often when threatened they will flee but if the threat persists they will assume a defensive position and sting the predator.
This species is also known as the giant desert hairy scorpion and is the largest scorpion species in North America.
gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.K, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Fritz Geller-Grimm, CC BY-SA 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons
Middle Two and Bottom
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