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Scorpions are nocturnal and occur
on all continents except for Antarctica, being most diverse in arid subtropical
habitats. Scorpions, and spiders, have the slowest metabolic rate of all the
arthropods and thus spend most of their time in a retreat waiting to ambush
passing prey. Scorpions can endure extreme temperatures ranging from 11.9º C
below freezing to a blistering 47º C. Scorpions collected for research are
known to survive being placed in a deepfreezer for a few days.
Desert scorpions rarely drink and usually obtain their moisture
requirements from their prey and conserve water by excreting nearly
insoluble nitrogenous waste products and extremely dry faeces.
Scorpions are adapted for
various habitats that fall into 5 categories:
- Psammophilous scorpions are adapted to life on
soft sand and have long macro setae (sand comb) that enlarge the
surface area of the feet for walking on sand. The genera in this category
are Opistophthalmus, Uroplectes and Parabuthus.
- Lithophilous scorpions occur in rock crevices
and cracks and are dorsolaterally flattened for this purpose, especially in
the genus Hadogenes. The feet have claws adapted to grip and climb
rock surfaces. Some species of Opistophthalmus occurring in shallow
scrapes under rock are flattened to a lesser extent. Genera occupying
this habitat are Hadogenes, Opisthacanthus, Opistophthalmus and Uroplectes.
There is a large degree of speciation in this
group where different species can be found occurring in close proximity.
This is a result of isolation where sandy areas separate rock outcrops or
- Pelophilous scorpions burrow in hard soils
using their enlarged chelicerae or large crablike chelae for digging and
have short, robust legs. The genera Cheloctonus,
and Opistophthalmus fall into this category.
- Arboreal scorpions shelter in holes in trees,
under bark and often actively hunt on tree bark or on vegetation. There
tends to be less speciation due to their greater dispersal abilities, with
climatic conditions being the limiting factor. Opisthacanthus and Uroplectes
are common forest genera in this category.
- Lapidocolous scorpions wander about at night
and shelter under available stones or any other suitable cover by day. The
genera Hottentotta, Pseudolychas and Uroplectes fall into this