IMPERIAL SCORPIONS CONTINUED…
These pictures are of babies at around 4-5 weeks old, so they will have been independent from mum for more than two weeks and hunting and feeding (a lot!) for themselves. They certainly look much more like real scorpions now:
All scorpions have a venomous sting but only a very few species are actually considered dangerous to people. Most scorpion species have very weak venom and imperial scorpions are certainly one of these. However, having been stung by one of my adults in 2007, I am very careful when and how I handle the larger ones because whilst not causing me any significant harm it was a big shock and caused enough discomfort to prevent me from being prepared to risk it happening again!
My handling of the babies at this size carries no risk at all as the sting of a baby is barely even able to break the skin. In fact the babies are surprisingly calm and docile when being handled anyway and don’t even making any attempt to sting as long as you handle them gently, as I always do!
Like all arachnids, scorpions have to moult their exoskeleton regularly as they grow. Here is the scene shortly after Stingo himself moulted for the most recent time! Stingo’s new body or exoskeleton (top right) is very soft straight after moulting and much paler in colour than his usual jet black colouration, which will gradually come back in the days following moulting!
The pictures below show one of Stingo’s moulted exoskeletons (exuviae) in more detail. In the first picture below the head area or carapace is closed but in the second I have flipped it open to show the opening through which the scorpion’s new body emerges!
This opening can also be seen when viewing it from the front. Here the carapace is closed:
And here it is open!
It always amazes me how an animal as complicated in structure as a scorpion can moult without damaging the old exoskeleton, but it happens pretty much every single time and this time was no exception! On all my scorpions other than Stingo the old sting is perfectly preserved too, and you can see the sensory hairs all over the exuviae below!
Immediately after moulting a scorpion’s new exoskeleton is very soft and they are vulnerable to attack, so they would usually spend time in their burrow or hidden away during the time it takes for the new exoskeleton to harden up.