Scorpions are not insects but arachnids, like spiders, and have eight legs and two main body regions, the prosoma, or cephalothorax, and the opisthosoma, or abdomen. The prosoma has two eyes on top and two to five lateral eyes along each side (as many as five pairs).
Scorpions are found on every continent except Antarctica, in habitats ranging from tropical rain forests to grasslands and deserts. As adults, most scorpions are nocturnal and solitary, usually staying in the same territory throughout their lives. Many species live in burrows they dig or claim and defend from other animals. Scorpions use the burrows and other types of shelters to hide from predators and to stay cool during hot days and warm during cold nights. Their burrows are typically small and snug. Scorpion species that do not burrow may climb trees or hide under bark or leaf litter for shelter.
Scorpions use different ways to get a meal, which may be an insect, spider, or even a small mouse or lizard. Many species wait by their burrow with pedipalps open and stinger raised until their unsuspecting prey wanders by. Others forage for their prey, and some species may even dig pitfall traps in the sand for prey. Scorpions have such sensitive hairs on their pedipalps that they can even locate and snap up an insect in flight. Once the prey is within reach, it is grabbed with the pincers and crushed. Most scorpions use their venomous sting only if needed, as it takes a lot of body energy to produce more venom. Younger and smaller scorpions may use their stinger more often than older and larger ones.
Did you know?
Scorpions have a very tiny mouth and can only suck up liquid, so prey that is caught is mashed up and bathed in enzymes that dissolve the prey's insides, a process that may take up to an hour.