Types of Scorpions

Scorpions are part of the order Scorpiones and the class Arachnida. They are invertebrates that possess eight legs, and a two-segmented body composed of the cephalothorax and the abdomen. This is the classification of scorpions: Kingdom Animalia (Animals); Phylum: Arthropoda (Arthropods); Subphylum: Chelicerata; Class: Arachnida (Arachnids); and Order: Scorpiones (Scorpions). Current records show that there are 1,004 species known.

The largest of the scorpion families is the Buthidae with over 800 scorpion species. These live mostly in tropical, subtropical and partly in temperate habitats, except New Zealand and Antarctica.

Seventy-two scorpion species, belonging to Hemiscorpiidae, are known to inhabit all continents, particularly in tropical and subtropical habitats, with the exception of North America.

Some of the world's largest scorpions belong to Scorpionidae family, which has approximately 240 scorpion species. Included in this family is the emperor scorpion (Pandinus imperator), one of the largest scorpion species known. Another giant is the Heterometrus swammerdami, which can reach lengths of twenty centimeters.

All true scorpion species have venom to kill or paralyze prey. Effects of a scorpion sting vary for humans, since some experience nothing more than a kind of numbness due to the sting, while sensitive individuals can die from the poisonous venom.

One scorpion that should be avoided at all costs is the African Androctonus australis. It is found in Africa and the Middle East. Also known as the fat-tailed scorpion, it is lethal to humans since it kills with quantity: injecting plenty of venom into its victim.

Some of the desert scorpion species, like the desert hairy scorpion (Hadrurus hirsutus), have been adopted as pets. However, this is a fairly aggressive scorpion that emits painful stings.

Below are types of scorpions covered in greater detail in subsequent sections: