Scouting for scorpions

Posted on February 13, 2012

Leopard Hills’ rangers and trackers have always shown a keen interest in these often overlooked and misunderstood critters! The guiding team were joined by some other extremely enthusiastic staff and we hosted well known scorpion expert Jonathan Leeming from Scorpion Adventures for some training this month.

What a fascinating few days of learning, thanks to Jonathan for “unearthing” an intriguing new world which we can‘t wait to share with our guests and delight them on game drives and walks.

People often have a media driven fear of scorpions which quickly disappears after a few hours with Jonathan. We learned all aspects of their behaviour, where to find them, how to handle them, how to tell males from females and most of all how extremely important they are to the entire eco system.

The best time to find them is at the end of the evening drive when they come out of their burrows or shelters. The tool we use is a UV torch which reflects UV light from the hyaline layer in their exoskeleton (A thin, transparent film (hyaline) in the outermost layer (cuticle) of their exoskeleton contains a protein that fluoresces).

This is a typical scene which we may come across on game drive of a tree creeping scorpion (Opistacanthus asper) waiting at the entrance of it’s tree shelter for a meal to come past.

Below is a shiny burrowing scorpion (Opistopthalmus glabrifrons) which emerges from it’s sandy underground burrow to feed at night.

This is the same species wandering around in the dark looking for a meal.

This is one of the slightly more venomous species in the sabi sands, the two striped bark scorpion (Uroplectes vittatus). See the young on this females back, she will keep them for 9-12 days before they disperse.

Remember to ask your ranger and learn so much more next time…

Special thanks to our resident critter expert, Evert (Maintenance manager) for his great images of the scorpions above.

6 thoughts on “Scouting for scorpions

  1. Very scarry, but interesting. I tend to like the Leopards better.
    Thanks for the information, I will check my shoes for sure before slipping the foot into them.

    Jeanie Wellington OCAPTA

  2. That is a fascinating blog Dave, in a few words you have altered my thinking and approach to Scorpions.
    Normally I just bang my boots on the floor to make sure there aren’t any hiding in there before I put them on, now – I can be scientific and look with my UV torch to see if my boots give off an irridescent glow – thank you.

    Seriously, that is fascinating stuff, and another example of the wide range of subjects, large and small, that you help us to gain a better perspective off. Well done.

  3. I loved the blog and the info but I’ve still got a ways to go….. looking at the wonderful pics did NOT help me feel comfortable. LOL! Guess I’d better come learn in person

  4. Sorry I missed out on this. Unfortunately I dont share your affinity to these little critters, since I was bitten at 4am whilst sleeping in a lodge in Namibia. I’d rather take on a Sydney Funnel Web spider, at least I know what I’m in for.

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