Scorpion facts and fallacies

Are all scorpions dangerous?

All scorpions possess a venomous sting. Several thousand people die each year from scorpion bites, but this mortality is due to the venom of about 25 species located in northern Africa, the Middle East, India, Mexico and parts of South America. None of these potentially lethal species occur in Australia. The Australian species can inflict a painful sting that results in swelling and pain for several hours, and there have not been any confirmed deaths of people from stings from Australian scorpions. Medical advice should be sought if you are stung by a scorpion.

Black Rock Scorpion
Black Rock Scorpion (Urodacus manicatus)

Are scorpions only found in deserts?

Arid and semi-arid deserts have the largest number of scorpion species, but they are also found in cooler and wetter habitats. There are nine known species of scorpions found in Victoria.

Where is the scorpion’s sting?

The venomous sting is located at the tip of the long tail. The pair of large pincers at the head end of the body are used to catch prey.

A Scorpion sting (SEM)
A Scorpion sting (SEM)

Do scorpions glow in the dark?

Scorpions do fluoresce in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet (‘black’) light. This is due to the presence of a mixture of complex sugars and waxes that act as waterproofing compounds in the exoskeleton.

A Little Marbled Scorpion fluorescing under UV light
A Little Marbled Scorpion, Lychas marmoreus, fluorescing under UV light

Do scorpions sting themselves to death when confronted with fire?

No. Scorpions, like all animals, panic when confronted by fire and thrash their tail around.

How do scorpions mate?

Scorpions do not mate directly, but the male deposits a packet of sperm on the ground, and guides the female by holding her pincers with his pincers to move over the ground and the sperm package is picked up by the female genital opening during this ‘dance’.

Do scorpions carry young on their back?

Scorpions give birth to live young which then spend the early stage of their life on the back of their mother.

Further Reading

  • Keegan, H. L. 1980. Scorpions of medical importance. University Press of Mississippi: Jackson.
  • Lawless, P. 1998. Lo! what light ... Wildlife Australia 35 (2):17-20.
  • Locket, A. 1994. Night stalkers. Australian Natural History 24(9):54-59.
  • Polis, G. A. (ed). 1990. The biology of scorpions. Stanford University Press: Stanford.
  • Walker, K. L., Yen, A. L. and Milledge, G. A. 2003. Spiders and Scorpions commonly found in Victoria. Royal Society of Victoria: Melbourne.

Resources

Museums Victoria Collections, Victorian scorpion and pseudoscorpion species profiles

Museums Victoria App: Field Guide to Victorian Fauna

Atlas of Living Australia: Explore your area

Connect with Museums Victoria

Subscribe to our newsletter