Desert Hairy Scorpion

Desert Hairy Scorpion

Range:

They are found largely within the Sonoran and Mojave deserts in the southwestern United States. They can also be found in Utah and Nevada.

Habitat:

They occupy abandoned burrows, small caves, crevices, grasslands, and wooded areas. They can also be found in suburban environments in California and Arizona, where they seek out areas that attract beetles and other invertebrate prey.

Characteristics:

Desert hairy scorpions are the largest scorpions in North America. They measure 4 to 7 inches in length. They are named for the small erect hairs located on their tail. Males and females are very similar in appearance, and they are usually tan to olive-green in color, with a darker back and yellow pedipalps, legs, and tail.

Desert Hairy Scorpion
Behavior:

They are more active in the summer and more sedentary in the winter. They are nocturnal, and utilize rocks or burrows for protection from the heat during the day. These scorpions go dormant during the winter as temperatures drop, often living underground in their burrow or in caves.

They are solitary active predators. They often wait inside a burrow and ambush prey with their stinger once prey are in range. They use their modified front pedipalps to grab prey and their stinger to deliver a venomous sting. The venom of desert hairy scorpions is fairly week compared to most scorpions. It will successfully immobilize small insects and other invertebrates but has little effect on vertebrates such as lizards and small mammals.

Reproduction:

Desert hairy scorpions breed opportunistically at night. There is no defined breeding season, although they become dormant in the winter months and likely do not breed at that time. The male and female lock pinchers and perform an elaborate dance. Once the male deposits its sperm packet, it pulls the female over the sperm packet and she takes it into her abdomen. The male then releases the female and runs, though often the female catches up to it and devours it.

Desert hairy scorpion gestation is unusually long - a period of 6 to 12 months. Females give live birth to a large litter of 25 to 35 individuals (average 30). Young are small, white, and vulnerable at birth, and immediately crawl to their mother's back. They are carried on their mother's back for up to three weeks, until the young have molted at least once and can live independently.

The body of a desert hairy scorpion remains unchanged in structure as it develops - only increasing in size as it molts. They generally molt four to six times before reaching adulthood at about four years of age.

Interesting Facts:
  • This species of scorpion is rather docile. They will rapidly run away from confrontation, but will assume a defensive position and sting if they are either cornered or provoked. The venom of desert hairy scorpions is considered weak to mild, but if you are stung pain and swelling will occur.
  • Most scorpion stings are not considered life threatening to humans -- the exception is the sting of the bark scorpion, the most venomous in the United States. Most of the scorpions in the U.S. are found in the southwest, preferring the warm, dry climates found in Arizona, California and New Mexico.
Conservation:

Desert hairy scorpions are a popular scorpion in the pet trade. Due to their important role as a predator in the desert ecosystem, they should not be collected from the wild. If you choose to have a scorpion as a pet, make sure you know how to care for it and that it came from a reputable breeder.

Did YOU Know?    
All scorpions must shed their old exoskeleton and secrete a new one in order to grow, this is called the molt. Scorpions will molt from 6 to 10 times during their lifetime.
Desert Hairy Scorpion
Native Utah Animal
Range
Class: spiders
Order: Caraboctonidae
Family: Hadrurus
Genus: Hadrurus
Species: Scorpiones
Length: 4 to 7 inches
Wild Diet: These scorpions feed on insects and other arthropods, including other scorpions
Predators: This species of is preyed upon by large lizards, owls and other scorpions
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building


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