Scorpions are eight-legged arthropods. A member of the Arachnida class and belonging to the order Scorpiones, there are about 2000 species of scorpions. They are found widely distributed south of 49° N, except New Zealand and Antarctica.
Scorpions have quite variable lifespans and the actual lifespan of most species is not known. The age range appears to be approximately 4-25 years (25 years being the maximum reported life span in the species H. arizonensis).
Scorpions prefer to live in areas where the temperatures range from 20°C to 37°C (68°F to 99°F), but may survive in the temperature range of 14°C to 45°C (57°F to 113°F).
They are nocturnal and fossorial, finding shelter during the day in the relative cool of underground holes or undersides of rocks and coming out at night to hunt and feed. Scorpions exhibit photophobic behavior, primarily to evade destruction by their predators such as birds, centipedes, lizards, mice, possums, and rats.
Scorpions are opportunistic predators of small arthropods and insects. They use their chela (pincers) to catch the prey initially. Depending on the toxicity of their venom and size of their claws, they will then either crush the prey or inject it with neurotoxic venom. This will kill or paralyze the prey so the scorpion can eat it. Scorpions have a relatively unique style of eating using chelicerae, small claw-like structures that protrude from the mouth that are found only in a handful of invertebrates, including spiders and vinegaroons. The chelicerae, which are very sharp, are used to pull small amounts of food off the prey item for digestion. Scorpions can only digest food in a liquid form; any solid matter (fur, exoskeleton, etc) is disposed of by the scorpion.
All scorpion species possess venom. In general, scorpion venom is described as neurotoxic in nature. One exception to this however is Hemiscorpius lepturus which possesses cytotoxic venom. The neurotoxins consist of a variety of small proteins as well as sodium and potassium cations, which serve to interfere with neurotransmission in the victim. Scorpions use their venom to kill or paralyze their prey so that it can be eaten; in general it is fast acting, allowing for effective prey capture. The effects of the sting can be severe.