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Author: Francois Laporte
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Scorpiones

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What are scorpions?

It may surprise you to learn that scorpions are not insects, but come from the animal class arachnids. This means that they, like spiders, have eight legs. Not all scorpions are the same. There are over 1700 different species of scorpions such as the Arizona Bark scorpion and the Emperor scorpion. They do all have some similar features, however, that we will describe below.

What do scorpions look like?

Like all arachnids scorpions have eight legs, but, unlike spiders, they also have a pair of large pincers and a long tail with a venomous stinger at the end. They have a hard outer exoskeleton that comes in a variety of colors including black, brown, blue, yellow, and green.

Scorpions also come in a range of different sizes. The smallest scorpions grow to around ½ inch long, while the largest scorpions can grow to over 8 inches long.
Scorpion anatomy:

1 = Cephalothorax
2 = Abdomen
3 = Tail
4 = Claws
5 = Legs
6 = Mouth
7 = pincers
8 = Moveable claw or Manus
9 = Fixed claw or Tarsus
10 = Sting or Telson
The anatomy of a scorpion

Where do they live?

Scorpions live throughout much of the world and in most every habitat. This includes deserts, rainforests, grasslands, and caves. They like to burrow into the soil, sand, or rocks making them difficult for both predators and prey to spot.

What do scorpions eat?

They mostly eat insects, but some of the larger ones may occasionally eat a small lizard or rodent. When hunting, they grab their prey with their claws and then paralyze it with their stinger.

How venomous are scorpions?

All scorpions are venomous. Some venoms are specific for certain prey and are more toxic to some animals than others. Of all the scorpion species, there are around 25 that can be deadly to humans. You should never play with a scorpion. If you see one, be sure to let your parent or teacher know.

Are they endangered?

Some species of scorpions are rarer than others, but, in general, scorpions are not endangered. A few species, like the emperor scorpion, are protected in order to keep collectors from taking too many from the wild.

Scorpion in Arizona
Source: USFWS
Fun Facts about Scorpions
For more about insects:

Insects and Arachnids
Black Widow Spider
Praying Mantis
Stick Bug
Yellow Jacket Wasp

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