Sunday, December 2, 2007
Scorpion in a taxi
Took a taxi in Budapest yesterday. On the dashboard the driver had a block of plastic (or some material or other) with a small scorpion embedded, enshrined, in it. It looked very much like a yellow scorpion Mesobuthus gibbosus to me. He said he got it as a gift somewhere in the Balkans. Poor thing won't be stinging anybody anytime soon... Scorpions are not insects but arachnids, as are spiders and mites. Insects have six legs, arachnids have eight. Scorpions are viviparous (giving birth to live young) and the young are often carried on the back of their mother. There are around 25 species of scorpion found in Europe, mostly in the warmer, drier south. They can be seen in gardens, yards and orchards with rocks, old walls and ruins. They sometimes enter houses. The yellow scorpion grows to 7.5 cm in length and often appears rather translucent. It lives in bare, arid areas from the coast up into the mountains, by day typically hiding under rocks, logs and in crevices. Scorpions are nocturnal hunters, preying on other invertebrates which are grasped in their claws and then paralyzed with a venomous sting from the famous tail. The stings of scorpions found in Europe are relatively harmless to most people (said to be similar to those of wasps) though they are painful and cause numbness, and to be on the safe side, all scorpions should be left alone and never handled.