The scorpion has one of the most distinctive body types in the entire animal kingdom. But have you ever stopped to think about what these formidable creepy-crawlies eat? What kind of prey are they hunting that requires such menacing stingers and imposing claws? Also, where are their mouths? Do they even have them?
Whether you’re just curious about scorpions or you’re thinking about bringing one home as a pet, learning about their diet can be quite interesting! Usually, scorpions eat insects such as crickets, termites, beetles, grasshoppers, and even wasps, but can go for even larger pray!
A Quick Note About Scorpions
It’s worth noting that scorpions live in many different parts of the world. In fact, they can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
Most scorpions live in the desert or other arid locations, but some species can be found in rainforests, caves, and mountaintops as well. They didn’t necessarily evolve in these locations, though, as some were introduced by other means.
For example, New Zealand and Great Britain aren’t natural habitats for scorpions but were introduced there accidentally by humans (and can you imagine being the person responsible for bringing scorpions into your beloved home country?).
They live in a variety of locations within those habitats as well. Many love to live in the ground or under rocks and wood, while others spend their lives in trees or near rivers.
As a result, their habitat will play a large role in what they eat, as not all prey is available in all locations. For the most part, though, scorpions eat similar diets across the world.
What Do Scorpions Eat in the Wild?
For the most part, scorpions eat insects regardless of where they live. Crickets, termites, beetles, grasshoppers, and even wasps can make a meal for these fearsome predators.
Larger species can target larger prey, though. Tarantulas, lizards, and even some mammals have been known to make a meal for a hungry scorpion. They also like earthworms and mollusks, and their large pincers come in handy when it’s time to grasp those animals and chow down.
Most scorpions are considered “sit-and-wait” predators. That means they sit there and wait for an unfortunate bug to wander by, and then they kill and eat them. Others have specialized means of hunting, including lying in wait outside burrows and dens, running down victims, or whatever else works at the time.
These arachnids are covered with tiny hairs on their body that can sense when prey is nearby. Once those hairs give the signals, the scorpion will grab the prey with their claws. If the victim is small enough, those claws will also finish it off, but larger meals require a shot from that venomous tail.
Like spiders, scorpions turn their victims’ insides into a soup and guzzle it down. They also rip off parts of their meals with their pincers and shove them into their “pre-oral cavity”. Because scorpions have a low metabolism, they don’t eat often, and it’s not uncommon for them to go up to a year without eating.
What Do Scorpions Eat as Pets?
While they’d never admit it (and forget about getting a hug), pet scorpions live a charmed life. They have no predators to worry about, their habitats are kept warm and cozy, and free food is delivered to them regularly.
It’s important to note that while healthy scorpions will eat just about anything their size or smaller, that doesn’t mean you should grab insects or other animals from around the house to feed them. These animals could have pesticides on them that will kill your scorpion, or they could harm or kill it while fighting for their lives.
Instead, you should get your scorpion’s meals from the pet store. Typically, this will mean buying them crickets or mealworms, both of which are delicious and nutritious for your little arachnid. Scorpions don’t need variety either, so don’t worry about feeding them the same thing all the time.
If your local pet store offers them, buy gut-loaded food as well. This simply means the crickets or worms have been fed highly nutritious diets, and they’ll pass those nutrients on to your scorpion once they’ve been eaten. It’s a great way to keep your scorpion happy and healthy.
Some scorpions also eat moths as a tasty treat, but again, you should only offer them these bugs if you can buy them from a reputable provider. Keep in mind that your scorpion may have trouble catching flying prey, and if you accidentally open the cage before the moth has been eaten, the joke will be on you (and your sweaters).
How to Feed a Scorpion
Feeding a scorpion is usually as simple as opening up their cage and dumping a few crickets in. They’ll do the rest, and the act of hunting is good for them.
Most scorpions are nocturnal, so feed them after the sun goes down, as that will be when they’re prone to hunting. If you put prey in during the day, not only is your scorpion unlikely to eat it, but they may also be injured by it as the cricket tries to escape (and the scorpion just lays there sluggishly).
How much you feed your scorpion will depend on its size and species. Larger scorpions will eat an adult cricket a few times a week, whereas smaller species will feed less often. Do your research on your specific type of scorpion so you know exactly what to expect.
If your scorpion isn’t eating as often as they should or if there’s leftover prey after mealtimes, that’s an indication that something is wrong. They may be sick, or there may be an issue with their habitat. You may also want to switch food sources to see if there might be an issue with the prey.
If you’re planning on keeping a pet scorpion, learning the proper way to feed it is essential. Hunting and eating are the few things that scorpions do, so there aren’t many other ways to show your arachnid that you care.
By giving your scorpion plenty of appropriate prey, you’ll keep them happy and healthy for their entire lifespan.
Featured Image Credit: Vova Shevchuk, Shutterstock