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Scorpion Queen

September 21, 2011 | | Comments 1

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On various occasions, I think about 4 times, we saw a scorpion walking across the driveway near the house. We caught them and dispatched them with extreme prejudice. I really don’t like to kill things here. After all, I am living in the country to enjoy the natural environment and killing it’s natural inhabitants doesn’t seem right.

The next time I saw a scorpion; I captured it and put it in a makeshift habitat (plastic bottle). For some reason, my significant other (Thim) took an interest in searching out their hiding spots. Soon she had captured 3 more. They were quite interesting to watch, so I bought an inexpensive aquarium, checked care and feeding on the internet, and started somewhat of a hobby.

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Well, Thim became somewhat excited about hunting for them late at night. She lures them out with a cricket attached to a thread, and quickly grabs them with a pair of cooking thongs. I have no idea how she gets the cricket on the string. She will sit for hours watching a hiding spot, until she is successful.

It is amazing how many there are. They live under bricks, in crevices and cracks in the cement, under pieces of wood and logs, and most any tight spot they can get into. When the heavy rains flood them out, they can live for up to two hours under water. She has located probably another half dozen locations where they are still hiding. She has quite the knack for it as I haven’t found any.

There were soon too many for the small aquarium so I bought plastic pans and made lids to cover them.

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One night, there was a mass escape of six scorpions when the local cat stepped on the screen, dropping the lid into the pan and providing an easy escape ladder. I don’t know how they successfully dropped from the table to floor, but they did it. All but one that is, who had the misfortune to land inside another bucket where he remained in captivity. Oh, I failed to mention they are kept outside under our elevated home, so no harm was done.

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In the evening, scorpions are quite active. They walk around exploring the habitat, do mating dances trying to attract the female, climb over everything they come in contact with, and can be quite entertaining to watch. We found that having them in the plastic pans was not the answer as it was difficult to watch them, and they seemed more interested in finding a way up the walls than anything else. A new habitat was in order.

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I had this made at a fish aquarium shop. Things that are imported are extremely expensive here. Items that are handmade and generally only involve a minimum of material are quite inexpensive. I have about $60 USD invested in this.

Many sites on the internet give direction in what is necessary to successfully care for a scorpion. Such items as distilled or purified water, chemical and germ free dirt, 7 inch deep substrate, heat lamps or heating pad, and it goes on. Get real! Do they truly understand where their natural habitat is? On one forum that I read, they suggested trying to duplicate the climate of Thailand as closely as possible. It was then I decided to just leave things be. You don’t have to mimic it when you are living in it.

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I made one end of the habitat from natural materials obtained from where they really live. Many sites say they like to burrow in the ground. I haven’t seen one scorpion do this yet, either in the wild or in the habitat.

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At the other end I made hiding places from cardboard, and plastic or PVC. I wanted to see which they would prefer. There are always more sleeping and spending time in the artificial end than in the “natural” area. Quite surprising.

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A friend of mine has aptly described this as the equivalent of a man’s train set project, but with live trains.

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They say you should not keep more than 1 or 2 together. In reality, they will crawl 3 and 4 or more into one hiding spot and curl up into a ball or lay on top of one another. Seldom do I find only one in a hide, and there are enough available if they desired to be alone.

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They are fed crickets which are purchased from a lady nearby who breeds them. The crickets are bred for fishing and human consumption. Not many Thai’s keep anything other than dogs, cats, birds, rodents and fish as pets. I have not found a pet store that sells supplies for other than that.

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This one was a little greedy

This one was a little greedy

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They dissolve their prey as they eat

We also find many insects in the garden that we drop into the tank. They are not voracious eaters, and seldom instantly attack what is given to them. They may stalk something through the night, or lay in wait for an insect to stroll by. It is rare that  I actually find them eating, but the crickets soon disappear. They eat like a spider, slowing dissolving their prey with their saliva and sucking it in. One cricket a week is the recommended feeding, although scorpions are known to live for months without eating anything. In one research project, a scorpion is known to have lived for over a year without food.

Scorpions are the only species that actually fluoresce under a UV Blacklight. It is quite eerie to watch what look like glowing wraiths moving about in the darkness. In the U.S., UV flashlights are sold for hunting scorpions.

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Scorpions give live birth. The number of babies can be anywhere from a dozen to more than twenty at a time, in this particular species. Immediately after birth, the babies climb onto the mothers back where they remain for a week or two. This one was caught with the babies still on her back. She is kept in a separate tank at the moment. Some are said to kill their mate and eat their young, but not this particular species.

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There are many interesting facts available on the internet, but not all are accurate, and also a lot of videos can be found. The particular species we have caught are known as Malaysian Forest Scorpions (Heterometrus Spinifer).

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There is also an Asian Forest Scorpion. They are distinctly different although some websites and pet shops refer to them as one and the same. The most easily identified attribute of the Malaysian Scorpion is it’s blue/green tint. The Asian is pure black. In North America the Emperor Scorpion seems to be the pet of choice and is quite often seen being handled with bare hands and arms. This is strongly recommended against when dealing with the Malaysian and Asian scorpions as they are much more aggressive and their sting and pincers more powerful. That said, their sting is said to be slightly more powerful than a bee or wasp, and not usually severe unless one has an allergic reaction. I don’t intend to find out from personal experience.

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Today we have about 19 scorpions in the habitat, plus about 18 baby scorplings. In order to tell them apart, we “branded” them with watercolor paint on their pincers. Yes, they actually do have different behaviors and “personalities”. I failed to mark the ones that escaped, so I don’t know if any of them were recaptured or not.

I am by no means an expert on this topic. I am only relating my own experiences over approximately a 6 month period. To date, we have not lost a single scorpion except for the ones the cat rescued. They all appear healthy and active. I am not going to copy or regurgitate a large amount of information that is available or I have read from other sources.

If you are truly interested in learning more, I suggest you search the internet and compare information, but don’t rely on just one source as there is a lot of conflicting advice given.

WikiPets is a good source of information.

An Alien?

The evening after I posted this. Thim came in the house and said she had caught something strange.

She said “It looks like a scorpion, but has no tail and small hands, and runs fast like a spider!”

I had to see this…………………

(Click on photo for a larger image)

Whip Scorpion

Whip Scorpion

Powerful Claws - No Venom

Powerful Claws - No Venom

This guy is called a Vinegaroon (Thelyphonda).  Commonly called a  “Whip Scorpion”; which is a great name as they are not a scorpion and they do not have a whip.   They are arachnid and related to scorpions and spiders, but not a true scorpion.  They have powerful claws and jaws and crush their prey. They do not have venom, but when threatened they may release an acidic substance from their rear section which irritates the skin and smells like vinegar.  Get it? Vinegaroon?

They are similar to scorpions in behavior, but they carry eggs in an egg sack under her body,  not live birth.  After the babies hatch, the mother stays with them until they begin to mature and she usually dies a short time later.  She will kill her mate if he is not careful and they are extremely territorial and will not live with another in captivity.

Here a few quick looks at a couple more visitors who joined me………….

There are many beetles in this area of Thailand. In fact beetle fighting is quite popular during various seasons.

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An unidentified type "Ground Beetle"

This guy was the most aggressive insect I have ever seen. He would actually charge at any item (or finger) that came near him. Some beetles eat sap and fruits from trees and live off the ground.’net sources said that most beetles jaws are not terribly powerful.  This bit a cricket in half and also grabbed hold of piece wood with enough power that I wasn’t going to put a finger near him.

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Very Aggressive Behavior

Others, are called ground beetles and burrow and eat insects and sometimes wood. I have searched for hours trying to identify this one, and I never found an exact match. He seemed to prefer being buried under the ground as opposed in the tree. I kept him for two weeks and he never ate a thing, and I never saw him drink. I tried everything that was recommended from all the sources I looked. I didn’t want him to die, so I released him and he quickly scampered away.

If anyone has any specific info on what beetle this is, please leave a comment.  Thanks!

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This tree frog has been “hanging out” in my work room for months. He disappears at night, only to return to his perch in the daytime.

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He decided to supervise the painting of my scorpion room and now is back keeping watch over the work area.

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Just Hanging Out

Its always interesting around my house………

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  1. Carl Butel says:

    Hi Dave,

    Carl from Destiny Rescue here. We live in Chiang Rai and run a scooter-bike tour for our supporters to raise funds for the organization.

    I’m currently planning our 2nd “Ride 2 End Slavery” and have a question or 2. I’m hoping you may be able to help?

    I read your story on GT-Rider about crossing into Vietnam on bikes. I am wanting to do the same with this next tour but have been told it can’t be done… however you’ve already proved that theory wrong :)

    I am really keen to talk to you about the steps you took prior to the trip to make sure the boarder crossing was a success.

    Can I contact you at all? I plan to leave on a dry run next week and just want all my ducks in a row before setting off.

    I sure would appreciate your help.

    PS. I think your scorpions are amazing…I haven’t seen any like that up here as yet.

    Cheers
    Carl Butel

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