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Meet the scorplings! They’re the modern sting age family

16 January 2014 by Dickie

A large black scorpion with 21 tiny bright white baby scorpions attached

Our Emperor Scorpion with her babies. Photo National Museums Liverpool.

Our Emperor Scorpion has given birth to a litter of 21 tiny scorplings at World Museum. This is the very first photo of mum with her new arrivals. And don’t they look cute?  Laura Carter from World Museum’s Bug House tells us a ‘bite’ more… 

Laura Carter, Education Demonstator from World Museum, says: “The scorplings are born as fully formed miniature versions of the adults, complete with venomous sting and sharp claws. Luckily for mum, the scorplings’ exoskeleton will not harden up until they moult when they are three weeks old, so they’re not able to use their claws or sting.

“Unfortunately, this means the little scorplings are also completely defenceless against predators. Mum carries all of the babies on her back and keeps them safe by taking cover. She will avoid other scorpions, and if attacked by predators she will defend her babies with her sting and claws. The scorplings aren’t able to feed at this stage and mum goes without food until they are independent.

“When the scorplings moult, they are able to feed and fend for themselves and mum encourages them to leave so they are not competing with her for food.

“Scorpions are unusual amongst invertebrates because they give birth rather than laying eggs. Unlike mammals which have true births, scorpions are “ovoviviparous”. This means that eggs hatch inside the mum and the babies are born separately. Scorpions can have very small or very large litters, with the average litter size being around 12 scorplings. An average scorpion pregnancy can last for nine months but this depends on the conditions such as how much food is available for mum.”

The family requests privacy at this special time as mum recovers. So, although you are unable to see the new family just yet, mum’s brothers and sisters are on display at the Bug House in World Museum. Free entry!

The arrival of our scorplings is also covered in the Liverpool Echo.

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