8legs2many today! I found this little guy hunting near a lightsheet at the Welder Wildlife Refuge. As a general rule of thumb smaller pincers mean a more powerful sting, so I took care handling this little guy. Above, you can see him chowing down on a feeder cricket I gave him.
Like spiders, scorpions are arachnids, with eight pairs of walking legs. Their large front claws are not true legs, but actually modified pedipalps, appendages on the prosoma used by chelicerate arthropods for handling food. While snapping pictures and shooting video clips of this guy I also got a chance to get a close up look at another cool appendage– the chelicerae. These are two sharp pincer-like mouthparts used to grab the food and tear off small pieces. These are pulled into the preoral cavity, where food is digested externally prior to being sucked down in liquid form. Chelicerae are unique to a subgroup of arthropods called the Chelicerata–which includes arachnids, horseshoe crabs, and a weird little group called the sea spiders. In spiders the chelicerae bear the fangs (these were the metallic green mouthparts we saw on the bold jumping spider a few posts ago).
Scorpions actually make pretty interesting pets, needing only a warm dark environment with some kind of refuge.
Scorpions (and other arachnids) lack the cuticular layer of wax which protects insects from dessication. * It is important to maintain high humidity to prevent them from drying out, particularly for tropical species. They are nocturnal, and so most active at night, which is the best time to feed them. Because they are adapted to living in darkness, they are sensitive to UV light, which can harm them with prolonged exposure. They also fluoresce vividly under a blacklight, which can be a fun way to hunt for them at night, although, again, longterm exposure should be avoided.
*Edit: See comments below. Thanks, Dave!