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Scorpion

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Scorpions are arachnids (and not insects); they are related to spiders and ticks. These ancient animals have been on Earth for over 400 million years (long before the time of the dinosaurs). There are over 1,500 species of scorpions worldwide (they live on every continent except Antarctica). Classification: Order Scorpiones.

These venomous invertebrates live in almost every type of habitat, including deserts, rain forests, prairies, grasslands, forests, mountains, caves, ponds, and seashores. Most scorpions are nocturnal (most active at night), resting under rocks, in crevices, or in burrows during the day. Scorpions give birth to large litters of live young, who quickly climb onto the mother's back after birth; the mother cares for the young until they are able to hunt. Some scorpions live as long as 25 years.

Diet: Scorpions are carnivores (meat-eaters) that paralyze their prey with a stinger located at the tip of the tail. They eat insects and small rodents. The sting of most scorpions is only irritating to people, but about 25 species of scorpions are capable of killing people (including Arizona's bark scorpion, Centruroides sculpturatus). Some scorpions can go for a year without food.

Enemies: Shrews and other scorpions prey upon scorpions.

Anatomy: All scorpions have eight legs; each leg has tiny claws. Scorpions have a hard exoskeleton and not an internal skeleton. The stinger at the end of the tail injects a paralyzing poison into the prey. Unlike other arachnids, scorpions have large, pincer-like pedipalps, appendages used to used to grab and subdue prey. Most scorpions are from 0.5 to 8.5 inches (1-21 cm) long. They range in color from black to brown to tan to red. Tiny sensory hairs protrude from the exoskelton; they detect touch, temperature changes, and other information. Comb-like sensors on the bottom of the body also give the scorpion information about the environment.

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