Parabuthus Schlechteri: The Burrowing Thick-Tailed Scorpion

Let’s dive into the world of a remarkable creature, Parabuthus schlechteri, the Burrowing Thick-Tailed Scorpion. This scorpion is part of the Buthidae family and is mostly found in southern Africa, home to many Parabuthus scorpions.

By learning about this scorpion, we can appreciate its unique features and understand more about the diversity of scorpions in this region.

What is Parabuthus Schlechteri?

Parabuthus schlecteri scorpion in Namib Desert Namibia

Parabuthus Schlechteri is a scorpion that belongs to the Parabuthus group. These scorpions are mostly found in southern Africa and are known for their unique features. The Parabuthus group is part of the Buthidae family, which is part of the Scorpiones order.

What Does It Look Like?

P. Schlechteri scorpions are medium-sized and their body color can range from a yellowish-brown to dark brown shades. They have strong, thick pincers, which is a feature of the Parabuthus genus. They can measure up to 130mm in length, which makes it one of the larger species around.

Their tail, or caudal segments, have a series of unique ridges and depressions. The end part of the scorpion’s tail, or telson, which has the venomous tip, is bulbous and elongated in P. Schlechteri, unlike other Parabuthus species.

Where Does the Burrowing Thick Tail Scorpion Live?

P. schlechteri scorpions are found in very specific habitats, which influences where they live. They are found in similar habitats throughout their range, even if these habitats are far apart. Some Parabuthus species also depend on dry conditions, which explains why they can be found in the drier parts of southern Africa.

What’s in Its Venom?

The venom of P. schlechteri is a mix of different compounds. These include peptides, which are small protein-like molecules that affect the nervous system of the prey or potential predators, enzymes, which are proteins that help break down molecules, and ions, which are charged particles that play a role in how the venom works, like disrupting the membrane potential of cells.

What Happens If It Stings a Human?

If a Parabuthus schlechteri stings a human, the effects can vary. Generally, the sting site may cause intense pain, often described as a burning sensation. The affected area may become red and swollen. A tingling or numb sensation may occur around the sting site. In severe cases, the victim might also experience muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting, and respiratory difficulties.

As with all Parabuthus, their sting must be considered as potentially lethal and immediate medical assistance should be sought.

What Does It Eat and How Does It Reproduce?

P. schlechteri, like other scorpions, is a nocturnal predator. It has a strong predatory ability, and primarily feeds on a variety of insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. Their hunting strategy involves waiting and ambushing prey as it passes by. Once the prey is caught, P. schlechteri uses its powerful pincers to subdue the victim, and then injects venom through its stinger, located at the tip of its tail.

The burrowing thicktail scorpion has a unique courtship ritual called the mating dance. The male begins the dance by grasping the female’s pincers with his own and leading her in a series of coordinated movements. During this dance, the male deposits a spermatophore, a packet containing sperm, onto the ground. He then guides the female over the spermatophore, allowing her to take it up via her genital opening, effectively fertilizing her eggs.

What Threats Does It Face and How Can We Protect It?

P. schlechteri is not under threat currently. Their illegal collection for the pet trade could ultimately result in a decline of their population.

To protect P. schlechteri, we should focus on education and awareness, promoting responsible pet ownership, (or not at all), and implementing protective measures in their natural habitats.