Thursday, October 14, 2010

Okay, THIS Should Make Up For The Spotty Posting Lately

The head of our custodial staff walked in my room early one morning recently and said, "Hey, I got this critter I want you to see."

I perked up. My thoughts going to how skimpy my nature posting has been this week.
"Sure! Bring it in."

"I actually have it here ... it's really weird. I'll go get it."


"Wait, is it black?"

"Yes, how'd you know ..."

" And it looks something like a scorpion, right?"

"Yes, that's it."

"It's a whip scorpion. They are weirdly gnarly and scary looking, but they can't hurt you."

He left and returned in a few minutes with a huge, perfect whip scorpion in a bowl.

I kept "Whip" around the classroom for a few days, to show all my students, and then yesterday, I carried him home to PFHQ.

Here he is looking all tropicallybadarse, but he's a pushover.

His only active defense (no stinger, no venom) is to emit acetic acid, the same acid in vinegar.
I did not irritate this one, so he did not give off any acid, but when you do it's definitely a strong vinegar smell.
(Reminds me of my darkroom days ... stop bath was acetic acid)

The claws are so massive and he moves so slow, my thoughts are that they are more for holding prey rather than rapid "blue crabby" snatching.

The extra long legs just behind the claws very actively feel ahead as he moves.
You can see that pretty well in the video below.

Yes, it was a little creepy ... even for me.


myamuhnative said...

Vinegaroon- a scorpion with its tail on layaway and tapping legs that make it seem to need a seeing eye dog!
Cool and creepy at the same time.
So which end does the acetic acid come from?

LaDivaCucina said...

EWWWWW!!! Me no likey him! Mostly cuz he's so freakin' HUGE!!! Are you telling me that these LIVE here? I don't mind snakes but him, meh, I hope I don't run into him, DANG!

PS: I thought that was Bear in the background. He doesn't sound happy!

Anonymous said...

Must be a cousin of the Black Scorpions we ate in China! Ewww, shell is too tough! Like eating a lobster without cracking the shell!
Cya tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

Looks too much like a spider to me...I sure wouldn't have it climbing on my arm. Tammy in LA

Sayre said...

He probably can't see past those massive claws! Good to know that he can't actually hurt you - If I saw one now, it wouldn't scare me. I could sure freak out my son though!

cndymkr / jean said...

Now this is something I didn't even know existed. How cool is that!

robin andrea said...

That's a very cool looking creature. Definitely the kind of thing I NEVER want to see in the house, and especially not in the bedroom. Outside on a rotting log sounds perfect. Your video is excellent, and you have an incredibly steady hand.

roger said...

well done dr. science. we seem to be outside their habitat range. nice video. it is a bit creepy.

Prem Subrahmanyam said...

That is a wickedly cool critter!

The Florida Native Orchid Blog

TheFrogBag said...

What an awesome critter! I so miss living in the tropics when I see something like that!

Doug Taron said...

Scuz me, I must have made a wrong turn. I thought I was heading for Pure Florida and seem to have arrived at Pure Arizona. (Cool vinegaroon).

Sharon said...

Eww. That is all. LOL

Dani said... his little black beady eyes!

Sam Crowther said...


kathy a. said...

oh, i bet he was VERY popular during the classroom layover.

The Florida Blogger said...

Very wicked looking creature.

Ivan said...

We knew this varmint as a "grampus" during youthdom. My youngest brother left his blue jeans in a hurry one time while picking wild grapes when one found its way up his leg.

lisa said...

Yuck, but I showed the son and he thought it was pretty awesome! Do they ever straighten their claws and use them?

edifice rex said...

Hey, Capt. Jack and I saw one of these when we were hiking in Big Bend. Neither of us knew what it was and the critter was doing his best to appear as menacing as possible. Worked for me; I steered clear of him. It was kinda funny because he was doing exactly what the rangers told us to do if we saw a bear; stand your ground, wave your arms and try to appear as large as possible. lol! he did a good job!

Aunty Belle said...


thas' all thar' is ter say on that.

Thar's a pass through the Pyrenees thas' dark, dank, wif' water runnin' down the rocks an these slug thangs thas' big as tire treads an' slimy oozzy. ugh. yick.

Some creatures jes' ain't got much allure.

Caroline said...

Gerald Durrell writes in one of his books about a temporary "pet" whip scorpion he dubbed Wilhelmina. Story is hilarious and Wilhelmina was actually quite charming.

Deb said...

Starflower says even though it's harmless it looks FREAKY!!! I agree. We don't get arthropods that size around here.

Floridacracker said...

(and so many, I am going to just hit some highpoints and questions)

I grew up outdoors in St. Augustine a hundred and twenty miles from here and never, ever saw one of these until I moved over here along the nature coast.

"Grampus" is what the local kids called these in the late 80's when I started teaching, but now they don't seem to have ever seen one of these.
I think that is due to not going outside to play. Video games, internet, and a zillion tv channels have come into being since that time.

Apparently the whipscorpion has a pretty wide range horizontally across the country, since a few of you brought up the western deserts.
Neat that a critter can handle desert and soggy FL.

And don'chu love how Dani can always see the cuteness in a critter?
I love that.

'Cause I looked real hard and the whole cute factor eluded me on this one.

Ericka said...

it DID have very cute beady little eyes!

i still TRY to look before i squish, but if it wanders into range when i don't have my glasses on, i squish first and check later. blame the water bugs - HATE them.

glad yours got to live free again!

Brian said...

I am so jealous that you have these around. Wow.