Fossils of animals that look like scorpions show that these animals have been around for more than 400 million years. In all that time, they have not changed very much.
Scorpions can be found in many countries of the world. Australian scorpions are not as poisonous as those found in Africa or North America. In Australia, these interesting little animals can be found in rainforests, deserts woodlands and even in cities.
They are not seen during the day because they come out in the hours of darkness. During the day, scorpions hide under rocks or logs. In some places like the south-west of Australia, they dig burrows in the soft sand.
At night, scorpions hunt for other small animals. They like spiders and insects the best. The scorpion grasps the animal in its pincers (called pedipalps). Then the poisonous sting bends right over the front of the head and stings the hunted animal.
In turn, scorpions can become food for other nocturnal hunters. Lizards and birds are their main hunters.
Scorpions can have between six and twelve eyes. Two of the eyes are in the middle of its back. Even so, they can't see very well. Instead, they can feel the smallest vibrations of other animals moving in the darkness.
Adult scorpions can be between seven and twelve centimetres long. Some species grow bigger than others and there are many different species in across Australia. Some species are black. Some are dark brown and others are a brown-orange colour. They have eight walking legs and a pair of powerful pincers. The body or carapace of a scorpion is covered with a hard shell. They have no internal bones. The body is divided into seven sections and the tail has five sections.
Fortunately, Australian scorpions aren't as poisonous as those in other countries. A sting might hurt for a few hours. The victim might need some treatment for pain but there should be no long lasting effects.
Breeding and Babies
The male scorpion grasps the female. He lays a sperm packet on a ground or a piece of wood. Then he drags the female over the sperm packet and she draws it into her. In some species of scorpion, by the end of mating, all that is sometimes left of the male scorpion is a few pieces of hard shell. The rest is gone. It has been eaten by the female.
The young are not born for many months; often between six and twelve depending on the species of scorpion. The baby scorpions are born alive. There are usually more than a dozen babies. They crawl out of their mother's body through a small opening just behind the mother's head. The babies are white. They cling to their mother's back and are carried around by her until they are old enough to care for themselves, usually a couple of weeks or until they molt for the first time. Sometimes the mother will eat a few of her babies.
The young will molt about six times until they are fully grown. (Molting means they shed their hard skin. Their skin does not grow with their body, so they shed their skin and grow a new one.) It might take eighteen months or more before they are fully grown and capable of breeding.
Did you know?
1. Scorpions kill over a thousand people a year in Mexico.
2. There are over 1500 species of scorpion but only 25 can kill people.
3. Some scorpions can live a year without food or water.
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