Scorpio maurus

Discussie in 'Soortenlijst' gestart door Jeroen Kooijman, 20 aug 2011.

  1. Jeroen Kooijman

    Jeroen Kooijman Adult Erelid

    Lid geworden:
    24 jan 2006
    Leuk Bevonden:
    -Vast in het Engels, zodra mogelijk wordt het vertaald naar het Nederlands-

    Scorpio maurus palmatus (Ehrenberg, 1828)


    Scientific name: Scorpio maurus palmatus
    Common name: Israeli gold scorpion, large clawed scorpion
    Family: Scorpionidae
    Distribution: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Israel and Jordan
    Venom strength: Not considered medically important

    The Scorpio maurus palmatus (Scorpio means scorpion, maurus means dark or obscure) is a very defensive scorpion species, unlike many will think they are not prone to sting (unless provoked). They rely on their powerful chelae to withstand an opponent. They grow in length to about 60 mm (2,4") on average, weighing about 2 - 3 grams. They are known for being excellent diggers, making burrows up to about 40 cm (16") (average) in depth, the bottom of the burrow usually enlarged. Although many people consider it a desert species, and therefore giving the scorpion a desert-like environment, Scorpio maurus palmatus can't be kept very easily in a dry environment. Which will be explained in the housing section below.

    They are usually found in deserts but also dry forests. At some areas it's possible to find multiple specimens living close to each other, each having their own burrow. They are not known for being very communal, males and females are only found together during mating season.



    Scorpio maurus palmatus is not really hard to sex. When a male and female are available the easiest and fastest way is by looking at the surface of the mesosoma. In males the surface looks matte, in females the surface looks glossy. This of course isn't the best way of sexing. Another difference is in the shape of the chela, especially the length of the fixed finger. In males the fixed finger in shorter than in females. Do note the length among the different Scorpio species can also be different.

    Like most scorpions males are more slender build than females.

    Pectine tooth count (PTC) is no good way in sexing Scorpio maurus palmatus, males PTC range = 9 - 11 while females PTC range = 7 - 11 teeth.

    The best way of sexing Scorpio maurus palmatus is by looking at the genital opperculum. Like all Scorpionidae the males have a more oval shaped genital opperculum and the females have a more heart-like shaped genital opperculum.


    Female chela:

    Scorpio maurus palmatus can best be housed in a deep enclosure, preferably with a deep layer of substrate. In order to keep the conditions optimal it's best to reproduce the dry- and rainy seasons found in their natural habitat. The dry season will range from October till June, the rainy season from Juli till September. During the rainy season on average a few centimeters of rain will fall daily, making the soil damped.
    The damped soil can be reproduced by adding water to the soil or by using a false bottom setup. Personally I prefer using a false water setup which gives a good range of humidity for the scorpion to dig to (humidity gradient). In order to trigger the digging, it helps to make a part of the top soil moist.

    Next to this the temperature should be reproduced, ranging from maximum temperatures of 18 - 35 *C (64 - 95 *F) and minimal temperatures from 8 to 25 *C (46 - 77 *F).
    The winter period (August to May) and summer period (June to September) can be reproduced by heating the enclosure during summer time and keeping the enclosure at a lower temperature during the winter time. Heating should occur from the top, because the scorpion will dig to avoid the heat a heat pad at the side of the enclosure might interfere with the natural behaviour.
    When heated from the top, the scorpion can dig to the appropriate depth where humidity and temperature are ideal.

    Egypt climate:

    Morocco climate:

    These conditions can only be reproduced using a relative large enclosure of at least 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8") ground space and a height of at least 40 cm (16"), if possible a higher enclosure would be better.
    The scorpions might drink from a shallow water dish.

    For start, a piece of wood or similar kind of hiding can be placed. Usually the scorpion will start making the burrow below this piece of hiding. Plants can be used to boost humidity but are not needed.
    Plants also can carry insects or can rot attracting mites and such. For those people who like to know the humdity levels, during the rainy season try to maintain an LV of about 70% while during the dry season a LV of about 40 - 50% would be fine.

    It is possible for one to see some pieces of the prey items at the entrance of the burrow, Scorpio maurus palmatus is known for keeping the burrow clean by pushing out the left overs. The burrow maintenance usually takes place during the rainy season. In this time the burrow may also be expanded.

    Looking at the amount of Scorpio maurus palmatus living close to each other in nature, it should be possible housing multiple specimens in a single enclosure.
    To make sure the chance of cannibalism will be low, an enclosure of at least 80 x 40 cm (32 x 16") ground space should be used.


    False bottom setup
    To start, fill the bottom of the enclosure with a good layer of gravel. Place a hollow tube on the gravel-layer and fill the enclosure with the desired substrate. Through the fill tube; add water to the gravel-layer. Make sure to fill until half the gravel-layer is submerged. The water will seep up and through the substrate, ensuring that the substrate remains moist at all times. The only thing to take care of is to check the water level weekly and add more as necessary to keep it at the recommended level.

    Make sure during the dry-period, the substrate is dry and no water is added to the soil.

    Scorpio maurus palmatus are known for being sit and wait predators, they forage mainly from the entrance of their burrow.
    They regularly feed during the day, with daytime activity after a good rain (early spring) might be a response to the sudden mass of great numbers of prey.

    In captivity Scorpio maurus palmatus feeds well on pinhead crickets, small roaches and those kind of prey items.
    Feed them once per week an appropriate size prey. Being sit and wait predators make sure to leave the prey item in their enclosure for one day before removing it.

    In nature these scorpions mainly feed on isopods, ants and beetles. They play a important role in 2 different food chains.
    1) Dry plant materials -> isopods -> Scorpio maurus palmatus
    2) Seeds -> ants -> Scorpio maurus palmatus

    Scorpio maurus palmatus has proven to be hard to breed, this might be caused by their natural season changes which do not occur in captivity.
    Once a female does get gravid, it takes a pretty long time (average = 15 months) before possible scorplings are born.
    It does happen wild caught females give birth to scorplings in captivity, it has been difficult for most people to keep the scorplings alive (as can be read below).

    The best way of getting them to breed in my opinion is reproducing environmental conditions.
    This means a dry season of a few months and a rainy season. During the rainy season the soil should be made damp, making it possible for the scorpions to dig burrow more easily.

    Reproduction in nature takes place in the dry season, May and June. Males and females are found together in a single burrow in this time.

    Gravid females are visible from June to November, with scorplings living with their mom found from August forward.

    As soon as the rain season appears in November the scorplings disperse and create their own burrows.

    Raising the kids
    A person I know had some scorplings (7 in total) of Scorpio maurus palmatus, which were born at a pet store.
    He bought the female scorpion including the offspring. The scorplings were placed in 3 groups.

    The female:



    Below his story so far:
    As you can read the scorplings like to dig when the soil is moist. This is also found in nature.
    Scorplings disperse and dig their own burrow when soil moisture is high.

    This tiny part of information is crucial to get these scorplings to mature.

    Subspecies of Scorpio maurus and other Scorpio species
    As most people will know there was only one species of Scorpio, namely Scorpio maurus, and many subspecies.
    Lourenco finally has taken a better look at the taxonomic position of Scorpio maurus subspecies and made some modifications which were really needed, raising some subspecies to species level and introducing 2 new Scorpio species from Cameroon and Sudan. Vachon (1952) already defined a number of characters, analysis of these characters confirmed that these were valid for the precise definition of true species. The species Lourenco has taken a look at all belong to the African Scorpio species. In my personal opinion this is a very positive beginning of what hopefully leads to a taxonomic system.

    The first new Scorpio species is called Scorpio savanicola (savanicola meaning savannah dweller).
    The second new Scorpio species is called Scorpio sudanensis.

    As can be seen in the picture below, most Scorpio maurus subspecies have a different sternum and genital opperculum, which can be the first sign of different species instead of different subspecies.


    I: Scorpio maurus "Senegal" - female
    II: Scorpio maurus hesperus - female
    III: Scorpio maurus magadorensis - female
    IV: Scorpio maurus maurus - male
    V: Scorpio maurus tunetanus - male
    VI: Scorpio maurus tunetanus - female
    VII: Scorpio maurus palmatus - male
    VIII: Scorpio maurus fuscus - female
    IX: Scorpio maurus fuscus - male
    X: Scorpio maurus kruglovi - female
    XI: Scorpio maurus kruglovi - male

    The old taxonomic system of Scorpio maurus and all subspecies:
    Scorpio maurus (Linne, 1758)
    S. m. maurus (Linne, 1758) - Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia
    S. m. arabicus (Pocock, 1900) - Penisule Arabia
    S. m. behringsi (Shenkel, 1949) - Morocco
    S. m. birulai (Fet, 1997) - Morocco
    S. m. fuliginosus (Pallary, 1928) - Morocco
    S. m. fuscus (Ehrenberg, 1829) - Morocco?, Saudi-Arabia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Yemen?
    S. m. hesperus (Birula, 1910) - Morocco
    S. m. kruglovi (Birula, 1910) - Saudi-Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Syria
    S. m. legionis (Werner, 1936) - Mauritanian Senegal
    S. m. mogadorensis (Birula, 1910) - Morocco
    S. m. occidentalis (Werner, 1936) - Mauritanian Senegal
    S. m. palmatus (Ehrenberg, 1828) - Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Israel, Jordan
    S. m. propinquus (Simon, 1872) - Syria
    S. m. punicus (Fet); old name: S. m. tunetanus (Birula, 1909) - Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia
    S. m. stemmli (Shenkel, 1949) - Morocco
    S. m. townsendi (Pocock, 1900) - Iran
    S. m. trarasensis (Bousisset & Larrouy, 1962) - Algeria
    S. m. weidholzi (Werner, 1929) - Morocco
    S. m. yemmensis (Werner, 1929) - Yemen

    After Lourenco's work in 2009:

    New taxonomic system of Scorpio species and subspecies:
    Scorpio maurus (Linne, 1758)
    S. m. maurus (Linne, 1758) - Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia
    S. m. arabicus (Pocock, 1900) - Penisule Arabia
    S. m. behringsi (Shenkel, 1949) - Morocco
    S. birulai (Fet, 1997) - Morocco
    S. fuliginosus (Pallary, 1928) - Morocco
    S. m. fuscus (Ehrenberg, 1829) - Morocco?, Saudi-Arabia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Yemen?
    S. hesperus (Birula, 1910) - Morocco
    S. m. kruglovi (Birula, 1910) - Saudi-Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Syria
    S. m. legionis (Werner, 1936) - Mauritanian Senegal
    S. mogadorensis (Birula, 1910) - Morocco
    S. occidentalis (Werner, 1936) - Mauritanian Senegal
    S. m. palmatus (Ehrenberg, 1828) - Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Israel, Jordan
    S. m. propinquus (Simon, 1872) - Syria
    S. punicus (Fet) - Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia
    S. savanicola (Lourenco, 2009) - Cameroon
    S. m. stemmli (Shenkel, 1949) - Morocco
    S. sudanensis (Lourenco, 2009) - Sudan
    S. m. townsendi (Pocock, 1900) - Iran
    S. m. trarasensis (Bousisset & Larrouy, 1962) - Algeria
    S. weidholzi (Werner, 1929) - Morocco
    S. m. yemmensis (Werner, 1929) - Yemen

    The new system involves Scorpio birulai, S. hesperus, S. occidentalis, S. punicus, and S. weidholzi to be raised to species level and S. sudanensis and S. savanicola to be newly introduced.

    Understanding Scorpio maurus
    Since I'm pretty well known for being a big fan of the Scorpionidae family, questions about Scorpio maurus palmatus are asked now and then.
    Most of the questions are about housing these scorpions. However a few questions do stand out, these will be described below.

    I know the main difference between a Scorpio maurus palmatus and a Pandinus imperator (clearly visible). But taking into account the Scorpio maurus palmatus looks very similar to Pandinus imperator as comes to the big chelae and overall build. Is there something which really is different between Pandinus imperator and Scorpio maurus palmatus?

    When you look at the ID-key of the Scorpionidae family you will find one very distinct difference in Pandinus and Scorpio.

    Scorpio doesn't have a stridulation organ, where Pandinus has a stridulation organ on pedipalp coxa and first pair of legs.

    I have read Scorpio maurus palmatus doesn't have a stridulation organ, however I did hear them making a sound. Is this possible?

    Yes this is possible, Scorpio maurus palmatus makes a sound by striking the ground with the distal half of the metasoma.

    This is not anything like a stridulation organ, but does work as a response to possible predators.
    They make this sound as a warning. In captivity they might make this sound because they see the keeper as being a possible predator.

    Is it true Scorpio maurus palmatus only lives for a very short time (usually less then 1 year)?

    The main problem with this species is the fact almost all of them are wildcaught specimens. The age is unknown and most adult specimens might be pretty old.
    The second problem is housing, most people tend to keep them as a desert species and thus giving them a low humidity and high temperature. As can be read in the "housing" section, this species require a specific type of housing.

    In nature it takes 2 to 3 years before Scorpio maurus palmatus reaches sexual maturity, when mature they should easily live for at least 3 years or more.

    Thanks to:
    - Lucian K. Ross (USA) for providing me with a lot of articles which helped a lot in getting this SOTM complete.
    - The staff and other people of venomlist for having the SOTM's and giving the opportunity to write these articles.
    - Birger Famaey (Belgium) for providing me with a description of his wildcaught female with offspring.
    - Michael (The Netherlands)for giving advise about the writing.


    Books and articles
    - The biology of scorpions, G. Polis and others, Stanford university press, Stanford, California, USA
    - Catalog of scorpions of the world (1758-1998), V. Fet, W. D. Sissom, G. Lowe, M. E. Braunwalder, The New York entomological society, New York, USA
    - Illustrated catalog of scorpion, Part I, F. Kovarik, Clairon production, Prague, Czech Republic
    - The relationship between sit and wait foraging strategy and dispersal in the desert scorpion, Scorpio maurus palmatus. M. Shachak and S. Brand, Biology department and Watershed Ecology Unit, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Sede Boqer, Ben Gurion University of the Negev 84900, Israel.
    - The burrowing activity of scorpions (Scorpio maurus palmatus) and their potential contribution to the erosion of Hamra soils in Karkur, central Israel. J. Rutin, The Zinmann College of Physical Education at the Wingate Institute, Netanya 42902, Israel
    - Ueber Scorpio maurus Linne und seine Unterarten, A. Birula
    - Behavioural patterns of scorpions, M. R. Warburg, Department of Biology, Technion, Haifa 32000, Israel
    - A new species of the Genus Scorpio Linnaeus 1758 from Sudan (Scorpiones, Scorpionidae), W. R. Lourenco, J. L. Cloudsley-Thompson, Museum national d'Histoire naturelle, Department de Systematique et Evolution, USM 0602, Section Arthropodes (Arachnologie), Paris, France
    - Reanalysis of the genus Scorpio in sub-Saharan africa, with description of a new species from Cameroon, W. R. Lourenco, Entomol. Mitt. zool. Mus. Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
    - Intra- and interspecific cohabitation of scorpions in the field, M. R. Warburg, Department of Biology, Technion, Haifa 32000, Israel

    - Climate pictures:
    - Wikipedia:
    - The scorpion files:
    - The scorpion fauna:


    Copyright: Jeroen Kooijman, 2010

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