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How Bad is the Sting of a Scorpion?

Ever seen a scorpion scurrying across with two crab-like claws and its tail high in the air? Well this tail is what has to be watched out for! The zing in the scorpion is in its tail for it has a sting.

Scorpions are poisonous animals. They are arthropods belonging to the class Arachnida and are relatives of the spiders and ticks. Though they are considered creatures of the desert, you can find them in most climates, hot or cold. They can be found in snow-covered peaks, in caves, in grasslands and forests. You can even find them in your homes.

How Bad is the Sting of a Scorpion? [Illustration by Anup Singh]

There are approximately 1,300 species of scorpions in the world. Scorpions have a long thin body and a tail that is marked by segments. At the tip of the tail is a tiny hooked sting. Just before the sting is a bulb-shaped structure that contains the venom or poison glands.

Scorpions are nocturnal animals. They feed on a variety of insects, spiders, centipedes, and other scorpions. The larger scorpions occasionally feed on animals, such as smaller lizards, snakes, and mice.

Scorpions have two pairs of pincer-like claws and four pairs of legs like other arachnids. The claws are called pedipalps. The claws are used to hold the prey while the scorpion lifts its tail and stings the prey.

The sting is connected to the poison gland. The poison is used to stun and paralyse the prey and sometimes even kill the prey.

How bad is the sting of a Scorpion?

The pedipalps are also used for self-defence. The body of the scorpion has a carapace or head shield that bears a pair of main eyes and two or more pairs of lateral eyes. Scorpions detect their prey through vibrations. Fine sensory hair on their pedipalps and on the tips of the legs detect vibrations in the air and on ground.

Depending on the species, scorpions give birth to live young ones within four months of mating to sometimes after a year. A female may give birth to between 20 and 30 baby scorpions. Once they are born, the mother assists the babies to climb on to her back.

A week after birth the young scorpions get off the mother’s back and live on their own. The average scorpion lives for three to five years, but some may live longer.

Despite their murderous reputation, few scorpions are truly dangerous to humans. Only 20 species across the world have venom dangerous to humans. Scorpions use their venom to stun and kill their prey or in self-defense. The venom is a complex mixture of poisons that affect the victim’s nervous system.

Normally a scorpion sting produces severe pain and swelling at the site of the sting. The area becomes numb and sometimes leads to frothing from the mouth. Since it affects the nervous system, respiratory paralysis and convulsions follow. The cure for it is anti-venom.

Although they are equipped with venom, scorpions themselves are preyed by other creatures, such as insectivorous lizards, owls and mammals like shrews and bats.