Scorpions not only look scary, but some species can actually be dangerous to humans and other animals. But what do these creatures eat? And do the diets of scorpions differ in the wild versus in captivity? We’re here to answer these questions!
What Are Scorpions?
Scorpions are a type of arachnid. They belong to the same order as spiders, ticks, and mites. As with other arachnids, scorpions have eight legs, but the long tail that curves over their back is their most recognizable feature.
These predatory arachnids have two pincers that they use to catch food. Often, a scorpion will sting its prey to inject a neurotoxic venom, which immobilizes the insect, lizard, or small mammal.
In short, scorpions eat spiders, flies, beetles, and other insects. Some larger species of scorpions also kill and eat small lizards, mice, and even other scorpions.
They capture their prey by either catching and crushing them or by injecting them with venom. Most scorpions eat a lot in one meal and can then go months without eating anything at all.
Generally, scorpions are sedentary creatures and opportunistic hunters. If a scorpion needs to eat, it will usually wait for its food to come to it before capturing and consuming its prey. They also have a very unique way of consuming their food. Scorpions have small “claws” in their mouth called chelicerae. The chelicerae tear off parts of the prey. The food is then covered in digestive juices that the scorpion ingests in liquid form.
Scorpions aren’t social creatures and don’t form bonds – apart from those between a mother and her young. After mating, a male scorpion will quickly retreat as the female may attack and eat him. Baby scorpions stay on their mother’s back. She also takes care of feeding them for the first couple of weeks. Once they have molted, baby scorpions eat small spiders, crickets, and other insects. Mother scorpions have sometimes been observed eating their young.
What Do Scorpions Eat in the Wild?
In the wild, scorpions are nocturnal and hunt for food at night. This is because lizards, birds, bats, and mice hunt scorpions for food, so they hide during the day.
Scorpions eat a wide variety of spiders, insects, and small mammals. They get the water they need to survive from small pools or puddles.
The journal Scientific American reported that scorpions will eat anything they can hold onto long enough to paralyze it. These arachnids can remain motionless for hours while waiting for suitable prey to come along. Scorpions can eat so much in one meal that they can survive for weeks – or even months – without eating again. This means that scorpions can also eat small snakes, rodents, lizards, if they can kill them.
According to the Journal of Zoology, beetles are the most common type of food for desert sand scorpions. Scientists have also observed that in the wild, scorpions enjoy eating grasshoppers, locusts, centipedes, and ants. Sometimes, they will also consume other scorpions. There’s even some evidence showing that scorpions especially enjoy eating spiders. In one experiment, the number of spiders in a specific area significantly increased after a large number of scorpions were removed.
Studies have also found that scorpions tend to eat on dark nights when there’s no full moon. They’ll increase the amount they consume during mating season. Other scientists have discovered that a scorpion’s diet greatly affects the amount of venom it produces as well as its toxicity. In the laboratory, scorpions that ate a diet that was mainly grasshoppers produced more venom than those that consumed house crickets, moths, and house flies.
What Do Scorpions Eat in Captivity?
Scorpions have become popular pets. So, people often wonder what scorpions eat and if scorpions eat spiders.
If you’re keeping a scorpion as a pet, it’s important to remember that scorpions are carnivores. So, they won’t eat fruit or vegetables. Scorpions kept in captivity eat:
- and other bugs.
You’ll also need to make sure to keep some water in a shallow dish for your pet scorpion at all times.
As in the wild, scorpions kept in the home are nocturnal creatures and will come out at night to hunt and eat. So, the best time to give your pet scorpion something to eat is in the evening. They also like to eat live prey, so you’ll need to keep a small supply of live crickets, spiders, or grasshoppers on hand to feed your pet scorpion.
Scorpions in captivity won’t need to eat every day. Depending on the breed, a scorpion kept in a tank at home may eat every other day or just 2 to 3 times per week. The desert scorpion, for example, can eat crickets, moths, centipedes, or mealworms every 2 to 3 days. Baby scorpions, on the other hand, will be happy to munch on smaller insects every other day.
One way to tell if a scorpion is eating enough food is to observe how the scorpion acts when you place the food in the tank. If the scorpion aggressively attacks the insect, this could be a sign that it’s too hungry. It’s also important to avoid giving scorpions too much to eat as they may outgrow their exoskeleton.
What About Baby Scorpions?
Some scorpion owners may be surprised to discover baby scorpions on their mother’s back. Researchers from the El Paso Zoo say that scorpions have a long gestation period and may be pregnant for over a year. The baby scorpions may then spend up to 3 weeks on their mother’s back.
After giving birth, a mother will need a large meal as she’ll be very hungry. If the mother scorpion doesn’t get enough food, she may start feeding on the baby scorpions. So, keeping baby scorpions in the same space as the mother is only safe when the mother has started feeding on the food you’ve provided.
You might also be wondering what baby scorpions eat. While the baby scorpions are on their mother’s back, they’ll eat the food she provides. When they leave their mother’s back, they will start to fend for themselves. Baby scorpions have the same diet as adult scorpions, eating small insects, spiders, and pinhead crickets.
In case you want to move forward and take a look at the food chain – learn which are common scorpion predators in the wild.