Scorpion, Desert Hairy

Desert Hairy Scorpion at the LA Zoo LAIR Photo Credit Tad Motoyama

Scientific Name: Hadrurus arizonensis

Commonly thought to be part of the insect family, scorpions are actually classified as arachnids (along with spiders, ticks, and mites) due to their eight legs.

The name “hairy” comes from the little brown hairs on the body that allow for detection of nearby ground and air vibrations.

The Dance of Life

The relationship of the desert hairy scorpion is one that is over seemingly before it has even begun. The mating ritual consists of a “dance” between a male and a female in which the male grabs hold of the pincers (an act known as “juddering”) of the female and they begin rotating around one another as he looks for a suitable place to deposit his sperm sack. Once mating has concluded, both male and female quickly escape in opposite directions from one another. Like all scorpions, the female will give birth to live young who will live on her wide back for about a week before leaving and, eventually, take part in a dance of their own.

Not evaluated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.

Native to the deserts of Northern Mexico and the American Southwest, this species is able to withstand hot regions because it is nocturnal, usually hiding from the heat of the day under a rock or in small rodent burrows.

The desert hairy scorpion usually feeds on small desert insects as well as small desert invertebrates and vertebrates that it can neutralize with its poison.

The desert hairy scorpion is the largest scorpion of North America with a length of up to 5.5 inches, with the females typically being somewhat bulkier than the males (however the males tend to have larger pincers than the females). The limbs and underbelly of this species is a soft yellow while the back is a darker brown-yellow color to better meld into the colors of its natural habitat. The hairs on its body, from which its name is derived, allows for detection of ground and air vibrations around the scorpion, aiding in finding nearby prey as well as evading predatory birds and reptiles in the vicinity. Unlike other Sonoran desert species of scorpions, the desert hairy scorpion is not especially venomous to humans.

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