Here’s proof that mothers are similar no matter where in the world they live – or what species they are. Just like a human mother strapping her baby onto her back, the Asian forest scorpion (Heterometrus spinifer) also carries her babies on her back. This protects them from predators when their exoskeletons are developing and they’re still soft and squishy (kind of like a human baby).

Kristen Brown, animal care specialist at the Vancouver Aquarium, with a Harris hawk.

Kristen Brown, animal care specialist at the Vancouver Aquarium, says she was quite surprised when she noticed dozens of Asian forest scorpion babies on their mother’s back a week ago – especially since the adult female hadn’t been living with a scorpion of the opposite sex. No male in sight… so how did this happen? Kristen reveals what she thinks is most interesting about them – female scorpions can hold sperm in their bodies for up to a year, which means this one was impregnated before she arrived at the Aquarium.

This Asian forest scorpion mom and her babies are currently being kept behind the scenes so that Kristen can keep a close eye on them. They are venomous so Kristen has to make sure she interacts with them carefully. She uses tongs instead of her hands when handling them, makes slow movements and always makes sure to put the lid back on their container whenever she walks away.

The adult scorpion, with its tail curled in, is approximately the size of a hamster. Kristen says they’re opportunistic feeders that will eat just about “anything that flitters or scuttles by.” This includes things like insects and even baby rodents – but it will be a while yet before these scorpion babies start eating babies of any other species.

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2 Responses

  1. Katrina Brown

    I think gestation periods within Heterometrus species usually take up to a year, so while she can give birth after being wild-caught and brought over here she was likely already pregnant before by a male’s spermataphore. Most wild-caughts brought in in the spring time are gravid and give birth a few months after. This gives a lot of people the illusion that their scorpion is either parthenogenetic or able to retain spermfor multiple broods which isn’t true to this species.

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