For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Scorpions in South Africa

This is a small scorpion, Pseudolychas ochraceus, of about 2 inches in body length I found outside. Our scorpion expert Jonathan Leeming has this to say about them:

“With over 160 species of scorpion, South Africa is truly a cool place to live! I know that many people would not agree with me but let me share a few secrets with you that may change your mind.
Out of all our scorpions, only 3 have even caused human fatalities. On average 8 to 12 people die from scorpion stings annually. Their strong neurotoxic venom affects the nervous system and causes heart palpitations, respiratory problems and slurred speech, intense pain and hyper sensitivity. We also have the world least venomous scorpion and coincidently the world longest. These giants attain lengths of over 21cm but their venom causes no more than a pin prick. South Africa’s good medical facilities ensure effective and prompt medical attention. Antivenom is available at most major centers especially where highly venomous scorpion abound.
Not only found in deserts and arid environments, they can be found in just about every terrestrial habitat in southern Africa. These amazing creatures can be found sheltering under rocks, logs, they make burrows and even live in trees. Their secretive nature and behaviour means that you probably do not know that there are scorpions around you, but they are there.
Some species can live without food or water for more than a year. During harsh times they simply wait it out. When the good times return, they emerge and make the most of it.”

1 comment:

Margaret said...

When I lived in southern Spain, I stepped on one with my bare feet (in the house). Precisely 24 hours (almost to the minute) of extreme pain. Then my entire leg felt like a sponge and turned completely black. It was an interesting experience, but I really don't want to repeat it! (The doctor said "Not to worry. It's only protein."