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Baby scorpions

Monday, July 20, 2009 | 0 comments

A few days after we had arrived in our new house in Coatepec a female scorpions I suspected to be gravid - she had mated over a year ago with a male of the same species - was no longer visible. I even couldn't find her under a large stone, her favorite hiding place. Nor could I see the entry of a burrow, and no traces of her or a burrow under smaller stones. I didn't check under one stone, because it was deeper in the substrate than the others.

The past weeks I had been inspecting several times the terrarium. I also had carefully lifted the terrarium, expecting to see her burrow through the other sides or the bottom. In the past I had been able to see the scorpion babies of the same species that way, but not this time.

The female scorpion, as far as I know species Vaejovis punctatus, was captured four years ago on the the rim of the crater that holds the water body called Laguna de Alchichica as a juvenile. Based on my experience with this species I guess that the juvenile back then was between 6 months and one year old.

And just after midnight of the 21st of April, 2008, I let her mate with a male of the same species, which turned out to be very successful, maybe because the actual insemination took place upside down. But I run ahead of the story.

Today I again inspected the terrarium. And after I had lifted the largest stone, I decided to also check the smaller stones. And I started with the stone I had avoided those past weeks because it was deeper in the substrate than any of the others. Somehow I had forgotten the rule I had set: don't lift that one, because if she's underneath, the burrow might collapse.

Six Vaejovis cf. punctatus scorpion babies.
Six Vaejovis cf. punctatus scorpion babies.

But when I realized my mistake I saw a much thinner scorpion run away, and then I spotted several tiny (5-6 mm) scorpions crawling on the underside of the stone. So I grabbed my Canon A640 and took two pictures. After I had taken the pictures I carefully placed the stone back in place and misted the substrate a little.

Five Vaejovis cf. punctatus scorpion babies.
Five Vaejovis cf. punctatus scorpion babies.

Some of the little scorpions started to wander on the now moist substrate, and a little later I saw one drinking moisture from the glass. And shortly after I noticed the mother scorpion digging a new burrow under one of the smaller stones. Or actually at that moment she was dragging a piece of dead plant material out of the start of a burrow using her chelicerae (mouth parts) of which I tried to take a photo, but I was just too late. In the photo below you can see the piece of dead plant material close to the mouth of the scorpion.

Adult female Vaejovis cf. punctatus.
Adult female Vaejovis cf. punctatus.

Sadly, last Wednesday I discovered that the small gray snake I kept, a Conopsis lineata, had died. Since its terrarium uses the same substrate as I use for the Vaejovis cf. punctatus I am going to use its terrarium to house the mother and the babies later on. Instead of isolating the babies, which I tried with this species in the past resulting in only one survivor, I want to try to provide a relatively large space with many hiding places - most scorpions have no problem to eat each other - to see if more will survive that way.

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