Monday, April 30, 2012

Scorpions Can Survive Famine, Freezing, Floods, and Heat

Photo Credit: Anders Olsson (via Wikimedia Commons)
We always hear that cockroaches can survive everything, even nuclear war. It turns out that scorpions can survive quite a few less than ideal environments as well. You can find them on every continent except Antarctica, and while they prefer temperatures between 68 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 37 Celsius), they can handle a wider range. Many species do fine in extreme heat (up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit) - probably no big surprise there, since so many scorpions live in deserts. Remember that deserts can get quite cold at night, and most scorpions can also handle that with no problem. In lab experiments in the 1980s, scorpions were frozen and thawed, and most survived. Some species can even survive being underwater for two days.

If the ability to handle those environments wasn't enough, scorpions can go up to a year without eating. They do this by actually slowing down their metabolisms, much like hibernating animals do. There is a difference, however. A scorpion can quickly come out of the depressed metabolic state if they need to, while a hibernating mammal needs time.

It's believed that most scorpions only eat 5-50 times per year under normal circumstances. They simply don't need food more often, because their bodies use up most of the nutrients and they produce very little waste. They usually eat insects, but some species will occasionally eat small mammals or reptiles. Scorpions also eat each other! When they do get a chance to eat, they'll eat as much as possible - up to a third of their body weight - thanks to their food storage organ.

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