Common Name: Desert Hairy Scorpion
Scientific Name: Hadrurus arizonensis
Size: up to six inches (15 cm) in total length
Usually a pale yellow green in color, they are known to flouresce under ultraviolet light. Indeed, it is very eerie and interesting to see these animals moving about at night in the field using a portable black light. Their common name is derived in part from the hairs found especially on their claws.
Nocturnal animals, scorpions are amongst the most ancient of land-dwelling organisms. They are efficient predators of insects and other small invertebrates. An encounter between a scorpion and a tarantula observed by the authors in the wild ended in a draw with both animals moving in opposite directions at the end of the battle. This encounter lasted less than 10 seconds. Desert hairy scorpions utilize their claws to hold a potential prey item while they swing their telson up and over their backs to inject venom into the other animal. Their venom is not known to be deadly to humans, but a sting from one of these scorpions is likely to be painful, at least for the first few minutes after the sting. The stinger itself often becomes dull after some time in captivity, but the sharpness returns after this arachnid molts. All scorpions are live-bearers, with parental care manifesting itself in the form of the mother carrying the young scorpions, or nymphs, on her back. The authors have observed numerous female scorpions carrying young in this manner during the late spring, summer, and early fall months. Female scorpions are also known to feed their young.
Typical habitat for desert hairy scorpions, as their name implies, is the arid regions of southern California and Arizona. The authors have observed these animals numerous times in the Coachella Valley and the "high" desert regions of San Bernardino County, California. Because they are nocturnal, they are able to inhabit extremely hot regions. Rocks are often utilized as retreats. During the early spring, the authors have found several under flat rocks in the field.
Food in the wild includes any invertebrate that these scorpions can overpower. We have observed on individual feeding on a wild cricket. They sometimes will also overpower and feed on small vertebrates such as baby lizards.
Central to successful keeping of these interesting arachnids is the proper cage set-up. A substrate of dry sand works well for this desert species. We maintain ours in a five-gallon aquarium with clean sand as the substrate. A small piece of bark is used as a hide area. No supplemental heat is utilized with this animal which is kept at room temperature: 60 - 70 degrees F (14-21 degrees C). We have maintained our animal for the past five years under this temperature regime with no problems. They have been known to live up to 18 years in captivity!
An insect-based diet is sufficient to keep these scorpions going for many years. Crickets and the occasional king mealworm are offered every other week during the spring, summer, and fall. On this feeding regimen, animals quickly put on weight. During the winter, feeding is reduced to once monthly.
Although desert hairy scorpions receive most water from their prey items, we do occasionally provide our desert hairy scorpion with water. A shallow drinking dish is used to supply the scorpion with its water. They will use their claws to pull the water into their mouth.
Dodge, Natt N. 1976. Poisonous Dwellers of the Desert. Southwest Parks and Monuments Association. Globe, AZ 40 pp.
Frye, Fredric. 1992. Captive Invertebrates: A Guide to Their Biology and Husbandry. Kriefer Publishing Company. Malabar, FLA. 136 pp.
Marshall, Samuel D. 1996 Tarantulas and Other Arachnids. Barron's Educational Series, Inc. Hauppauge, NY. 104 pp.