Why do scorpions live in the desert? How they survive in the desert?

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Why do scorpions live in the desert?

It is to be noted that only the Desert scorpions live in the dry and arid desert ecosystem. They all have well-adapted themselves to living in the desert.

They live in the desert because they have well-adapted themselves to survive with less use of water. They get the moisture they need by feeding on their prey or by metabolizing their body fats.

Also, they are mostly nocturnal and hunt only at night time. These creatures remain hidden in their burrows deep inside the sand, under the rocks and bushes in the desert during the day time.

Now, it is to be noted that the desert dwellers are able to stay meters deep in the sand inside their underground burrows to get rid of the heat and dehydration. Scorpion burrows can be a meter deep, depending on the dryness of the location.

They are able to thrive in such harsh conditions because of their venomous sting that helps them kill their prey like small insects, lizards, etc. almost instantly. Thus, saving them a lot of energy in such arid regions.

They are also known as surprise attackers. So, to save much of their energy in such arid conditions of the desert that have adapted themselves to better hide and wait for their prey.

If the prey is small they can better choose to crush it using its claws or pincers (called pedipalps). If the prey is larger, it will inject its venom to kill it.

Now, they can also defend themselves from their predator by using their pedipalps and venomous sting. So, as a result, many predators avoid scorpions thus giving more longevity to their survival.

It is also to be noted that unlike the other insects, scorpions do not lay eggs. Instead, the mothers give birth to the young scorpions.

They can give birth to about 25 to 30 baby scorpions at one time. All of these baby scorpion are born with a desert-dwelling adaptable lifestyle.

And it also to be noted that the Scorpion populations spread slowly, with being able to start a colony from a single pregnant female.

This has gradually made them spread and well-adapted to relocating and surviving in all kinds of desert places and conditions.

Thus, by considering all of the above mentioned characteristics it is pretty much clear that why do scorpions live in the desert.


How do Scorpions survive in the desert? They survive in the desert due to the following adaptations:

1. They have a tough exoskeleton

The exoskeleton of scorpions not only helps them in respiration but also helps them by reducing the water loss from their body due to its waxy covering.

This thick exoskeleton of the scorpion helps it by acting as a covering armor from the excess heat of the sun during the day time, and also as a protective covering to save itself from the sandstorm’s turbulent winds and debris.

The exoskeleton also has the ability to glow at night time in the presence of UV light. It’s because of the outer thin hyaline layer present in the cuticle part of the exoskeleton that absorbs the longer wavelengths of UV light and emits it in different wavelengths that are visible at night as a blue-green glow. This helps the scorpion know when it’s night and time to eat.

2. They are opportunistic predators

Yes, the scorpions are opportunistic predators. They can better eat and feed on whatever they get at the instance.

The small ones can hunt and eat any small insect they do get. The small scorpions can eat spiders, flies, beetles, and other insects.

Some larger species of scorpions also kill and eat small lizards, mice, and even other scorpions.

Just, for instance, take the example of the Deathstalker scorpion (Leiurus quinquestriatus) of the Sahara desert zone. It commonly preys upon its own species, if it doesn’t get any insect to feed on at the moment.

3. They can camouflage very well

A majority of the desert scorpions can camouflage very well by matching their body color with that of the sand and the desert surrounding colors.

In simple words, Scorpions use color and pattern to camouflage in the sand.

Many of them are small light-brown scorpions and this helps them to better hide from their predators during the daytime. This also helps them to stay hidden from the prey and give them a surprise attack.

Just, take the example of the Arizona bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus). This is a small light brown scorpion common to the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

4. They have burrowing habits

Yes, scorpions of the desert likes to stay inside their burrows during the daytime. This helps them to get rid of the harsh sun rays, remain inactive during the daytime, and save them from dehydrating themselves.

Their burrowing habit also helps them to stay away from their predators that often come out during the daytime in search of food.

It is also to be noted that, in order to make their burrows, scorpions can dig to a depth of a meter or so to reach the depth where moisture and temperature are suitable, cool, and comfortable for them to stay during the hot daytime.

5. They are nocturnal

O Yes! Scorpions are nocturnal. They remain hidden from the warm rays of the sun during the daytime mostly in their burrows, or under the rocks, or inside the bushes.

They come out of their burrows at night, sometimes also seen during the dawn and dusk time as well.

They become active in the dark in order to better preserve water, manage body temperature, make themselves cool, and search for their prey.

They being nocturnal not only help themselves by avoiding diurnal prey, but also by taking advantage of the night time to prey on species that are used to avoiding diurnal predators.

Although scorpions are partially blind creatures, but then so, they can easily see the movement of their prey and light at the night time when they come out in blurry clarity.

Their tiny eyes and small brains are able to see in dim light, performing sophisticated visual behaviours.

6. They rarely drink any water

Yes, the desert scorpions rarely drink water. They get the water they need from their prey and the rest of the moisture is taken by metabolizing their body fats.

They mostly hide under the rocks and burrows far from the hot sand to preserve energy, reduce the excessive loss of water, and stay cool.

Being nocturnal by nature, they only come out at the night time, thereby escaping the desert sun’s intense and dehydrating heat.

They are known to suck and absorb fluids through the flesh and organs of their prey.

7. They can regulate their body metabolism

Their ability to regulate and reduce the body metabolism is something an unique adaptation for their survival in the desert.

They do this by slowing down their body metabolism to as little as one-third of the normal rate when there’s a scarcity of food and they get highly inactive during those times of the cold winters.

It has been also seen that they can actually just hibernate in the cold weather. They often choose to hibernate in their burrows where they can stay warm all throughout the winter season by lowering down their body metabolism.

During those times, they use the energy and moisture they get by metabolizing their body fats.

If incase they don’t hibernate, then this slow metabolism helps them to use very little oxygen and survive on as few as one or two insects during the cold winters.

The scorpions, however, has the unique ability to quickly reverse its hibernation and spring back to predatory action when the food becomes available.


Do scorpions live in the Sahara Desert?

Do you know? Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert on planet Earth covering an area of about 9.2 million km², which is almost the same as the total area of China. And, this desert covers about 8% to 9% of the earth’s total land area.

The Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world. and the third-largest desert behind the Antarctica Cold Desert and the Arctic Cold Desert.

Yes, various species of scopions live in the Sahara Desert zone. These scorpions are one of the most commonly associated with the arid region.

And, yes, it is also to be noted that almost 30 species of scopions are known to occur in the desert zone of Sahara.

Amongst these 30 species, about 4 of them are extremely venomous and so are very deadly to humans.

Amongst the total of 2,000 known scopions species in the planet Earth, about 30 to 40 of them are extremely venomous.

So, it can be pretty much clear that about 8% to 10% of all of the extremely venomous scorpions can be seen in the Sahara desert.

The Deathstalker Scorpion is the most common scorpion seen here in the desert. Commonly found in Egypt, they prefer temperatures of about 23°C and are very nocturnal hunters.

Other species of scorpion like the Fattail Scorpion (Androctonus crassicauda), Hardy desert Scorpion (Androctonus australis), Black fat-tailed scorpion (Androctonus bicolor), and Arabian fat-tailed scorpion (Androctonus amoreuxi) are some of the famous examples of scorpions seen here.

All of the scorpions of the Sahara Desert are most active at night. During the day it hides under rocks or in burrows, which it digs itself. It feeds on various insects at night time.

Small desert scorpions mostly feed on the insects like spiders, flies, beetles, and other insects that they get easily.

The larger desert scorpion species can kill and eat small lizards, mice, and even other scorpions with ease.


What do Scorpions need to survive in the desert?

First of all, they will need to hide deep in their burrows, under the rocks and cracks during the day time to get rid of the excess heat of the sun. This helps them from getting dehydrated.

And yes, of course, they will need food to eat. They can eat insects like beetles, crickets, flies, and wasps, insect eats, termites, centipedes, spiders, young snakes, lizards, rodents, and other scorpions.

It is also to be noted that the Female scorpions can even eat their mates instantly after mating.

And, yes they do need water for their daily needs. But, it’s not at all possible for them to gather water in the dry deserts so easily. So, they can better get the water from the food they eat, and also by metabolizing their body fats.

Scorpions have four pairs of jointed legs that have sensory hairs. The hairs can detect vibrations from a prey which is about a foot away. So, this is better helpful for them to search food with the less use of energy and time.

It also has venomous stinger to subdue the prey. They do have two pairs of chelicerae, positioned on either side of the mouth to hold and rip apart the prey while feeding.

Almost all of the desert scorpions like the Desert Hairy scorpion are so well-adapted to the deserts that they are very sensitive to humidity and needs to be kept in dry-arid conditions because they are prone to fungal infections if their environment is too damp.

Unlike humans, the desert ones can actively control their body metabolism rate when it’s the winter cold season. This allows them to slow down their body mechanism when the food is scarce during the winters and they are able to survive off by feeding on as little as two to three insects a year.


Do all scorpions live in the desert?

Not all species of scorpions can live in the desert. They are commonly thought of as living in the deserts only, but they also live in Brazilian rainforests, British Columbia, North Carolina, Asia sub-continent, and even in the Himalayas.

While the forest scorpions don’t drink any water, the desert scorpions need to drink water.

While the forest scorpions are both nocturnal and diurnal, but the desert scorpions are highly nocturnal.

The forest species can stay in damp soil burrows, or in the trees, and all. While the desert ones stay below the sandy soil burrows and can hide behind the dusty rocks.

The majority of the desert scorpions are light-brown in colour, while the majority of the other scorpions are dark-brown to black in colour.

In general, the desert-dwelling species are light-weighted that help them travel on the surface of the sand, as compared to the majority of the other scorpions’ species that are heavy-bodied.

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