A Sting in the Tail

Scorpion-Sep-17-BlogScorpions are one of the most feared animals. Their terrifying appearance and their deadly stings have made people wary of scorpions since civilisation began. The ancient Greek writer Aesop told the tale of the Scorpion and the Frog which tells us exactly what he thought of them!

But are scorpions really that scary? Let’s find out with this list of interesting scorpion facts:

  • There are just under 2,000 species of scorpion we know of. All these have a sting but just 25 have stings capable of killing a human
  • Though scorpions look like insects, they are in fact arachnids. Their closest relations are spiders
  • Like spiders, scorpions are predators. The larger scorpions feed on small rodents or lizards but the vast majority prefer an insect diet
  • They catch their prey by grabbing it with their pincers. Once held, their unfortunate victim is injected with venom from the scorpion’s sting
  • Scorpions have no teeth and so do not chew their food. Instead they dissolve their prey externally with their digestive juices before drinking the liquidised remains
  • They can eat a lot in one sitting. This, together with their slow metabolisms, means that some can go up to a year between meals
  • Black-Scorpion-Sep-17Because they have hard ‘shells’, scorpions must moult in order to grow. They shed their old exoskeleton several times before they reach adult size
  • After they have moulted, scorpions are at increased risk from predators until their new ‘shell’ hardens. One of their most prolific predators is the meerkat
  • The scorpion’s greatest enemy is us humans. We kill them through fear and even for food. The Chinese enjoy fried scorpion washed down with scorpion wine
  • They’re also used in Chinese medicine and, more recently, in Western medicine. Scorpion venom contains some compounds which are effective in the treatment of heart disease and cancer

So, now you know that scorpions aren’t all that bad. In fact, we’re much more of a danger to them then they are to us. Scorpions deserve our respect – some do have the power to kill us – but they deserve our mercy too. They’ve saved far more human lives than they’ve ever taken.

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