Scorpions feeding habits

Leiurus quinquestriatus feeding habits

Scorpions are opportunistic predators that eat any small animal they can capture. Their prey includes insects as well as spiders and other arachnids, including other scorpions. Less common diet in certain areas of Sudan are fish leftovers.

Most scorpions are sit-and-wait predators that remain motionless until a suitable victim has moved into an ambush zone. Scorpions can sense tiny ground vibrations, and some can detect airborne vibrations of flying insects. These behaviours are sophisticated to the extent that scorpions can determine the precise distance and direction of their prey. Once the prey has been detected, the scorpion turns, runs to the prey, and seizes it. The prey is stung if it is relatively large, aggressive, or active. Otherwise it is simply held by the pedipalps as it is eaten. Many of the thick-tailed scorpions (family Buthidae), however, actively search for prey. These species usually have long, slender bodies and pincers (chelae). Many have powerful venoms to compensate for their small pincers.

Scorpions lack conventional jaws, and their feeding habits are unusual. An additional pair of pincerlike appendages (chelicerae) are toothed, and, with these tools as well as the sharp edges of adjacent jawlike structures (maxillae and coxae), the scorpion chews the prey as quantities of digestive fluids secreted from the midgut pour over it. The victim’s soft parts are broken down, liquefied, and sucked into the scorpion’s stomach by a pumping action. The victim is gradually reduced to a ball of indigestible material, which is cast aside. Eating is a slow process, often taking many hours.

At Sudan Natural History Museum we keep a close eye on our scorpion collection feeding behaviour and we share it with you. Enjoy watching the videos.

Eating termites

Eeating a grasshoper

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