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ID Request (Northern California)

Discussion in 'Scorpions' started by parzifal, Jan 17, 2006.

  1. parzifal

    parzifal Arachnopeon

    I've been trying to get more information on some "close encounters" with scorpions that I've had.

    I live in a wooded area of the Santa Cruz mountains in Northern California (between Santa Cruz and San Jose), about 2,800 feet in elevation. While cleaning out my garage a few weeks ago, I came across 8 scorpions underneath or within boxes. Just the other day, I found one scorpion in my living room up against the wall. I also encountered one in my hallway a few years ago.

    Here's a photo of the one from the other day, which was about 3-4 inches long (see attached image, or the following URL):

    I'm wondering if you can tell me what species this is, what nickname it might have, and whether I need worry about it creeping around my home? I'm not sure how poisonous this scorpion is, and I'm not sure what to do if anyone gets stung.

    Attached Files:

  2. skinheaddave

    skinheaddave SkorpionSkin Arachnosupporter

    Looks like Uroctonus mordax to me. That would certainly be typical of a find for your area. I don't know what common name they might go by.

    That being said, I wouldn't worry about it. A sting from this species may hurt, but it presents no serious danger, even to a child. You can read some descriptions here: http://www.arachnoboards.com/ab/showthread.php?t=265
    The most important thing to do if stung is to stay calm. The only way you can serious harm yourself if stung is if you fall down the stairs or something similar in a panic. Sit down, calm down. You can use a bit of ice to dull the pain a bit (worked wonders when I got stung by a scorpion in Costa Rica). Other than that, all I can say is that if you start to experience any systemic effects of any sort (things other than localized pain) you should go to a hospital. This scorpion should not be capable of doing anything serious to you, but it is better to be safe than sorry if anything unusual starts to happen.

  3. TheNothing

    TheNothing Arachnoprince Old Timer

  4. skinheaddave

    skinheaddave SkorpionSkin Arachnosupporter

    Hadn't thought of that. Regardless, all the advice still stands for anything you will find in your area that looks like that.

  5. parzifal

    parzifal Arachnopeon

    I'm in Santa Cruz county, which would be this link: http://sparkless.net/matt/SantaCruz.htm I may be wrong on the estimate of size. I would say the body was 2-3 inches, the tail probably taking it to 3-3.5 inches.

    Thanks for the really helpful information and advice!
  6. TheNothing

    TheNothing Arachnoprince Old Timer

    U mordax is definately the most likely, and if i remember correctly, those further south in the range (where you are) are larger than those in the northern part of the range (where I'm at)

    here's one of my largest, male, and only a lil over 2"

    i've not managed to be stung by this species, but they do have a good pinch.
  7. cacoseraph

    cacoseraph ArachnoGod Old Timer


    can it be Anuroctonus?

    A. phaiodactyls lives in CA, but i'm not sure what part

    i caught a very similar looking scorp in Los Angeles County


    actually the tails are very different looking, and claws are not as similar as i thought i remembered =P
  8. TheNothing

    TheNothing Arachnoprince Old Timer

    being one of the most extreme obligate burrowers, I wouldn't expect to find several in a garage, unlike the opportunistic U.mordax
  9. parzifal

    parzifal Arachnopeon

    That guy (U.mordax photo on the rock) looks very familiar :) I was surprised when I lifted up that first box in the garage, only to see a scorpion (that I thought was dead at first) get up and crawl back in underneath all the mess. Boy, did that change the game! :) We were much more cautious. I was amazed when we had encountered a total of 8 of them by the end of the day.

    What's the breeding cycle like for these? Should I expect to find babies running around some day? Would I even see them?
  10. skinheaddave

    skinheaddave SkorpionSkin Arachnosupporter

    Indeed, the metasoma of Anuroctonus are typified by the very rounded dorsal surfaces adn the almost stick-like fifth segment, combined with a somewhat "oversized" telson. The specimen presented here has rather pronounced projections (check out the third segment) but without the distal "tooth" typical of Vaejovids.

    Add to that the fact that Isaac is 100% right about garages being way out of their natural habitat preference and their less than gregarious nature and I think Anuroctonus can be dismissed as a possibility.

  11. TheNothing

    TheNothing Arachnoprince Old Timer

    They birth in the late summer - August and September, with a lifespan of a few years.

    they are more prone to play dead or run away than anything... the guy in that picture held that pose long enough for me to go downstairs, get my camera, and come back up. I had picked him up from one enclosure and moved him into the other.
  12. Prymal

    Prymal Arachnoking Old Timer


    It's neither A. phaiodactylus or U. mordax mordax. Due to locale, size, reduced length of the elongate telson, what I can see of the carapacal granulation, you have U. m. pluridens. U. m. pluridens is restricted in range to Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties. Count the denticles of the fixed and moveable fingers of the "claws": 8 & 9 (9 on the moveable finger) = pluridens; 7 & 8 = mordax.
    Anuroctonus is easily separated from Uroctonus by 1) carapacal granulation mostly lacking in Anuroctonus; 2) bulbous, not elongate telson; 3) Metasomal segment V smooth on ventral surface (used to smooth the floor and walls of burrows); lateral eyes = 3 in Uroctonus; 4 (consistently) in Anuroctonus.
  13. Kugellager

    Kugellager ArachnoJester Arachnosupporter

    It's not Anuroctonus. Look at the shape of the telson/vesicle it is far too slender and the aculus is smooth and grades smoothly into the rest of the telson. See this photo of A.phaiodactylus and note shape of telson/aculus and the length of the chela...The Chela are shortened and robust compared to your specimen. The collection location is all wrong as well. A.phaiodactylus is generally found in very dry desert conditions.

    I have had U.mordax with a length of about 3" from mouth to telson. They vary widely in size with females being quite a bit larger than males in many instances. You really need to show us a photo of it next to a ruler. Estimations are often larger than reality. Based on the shape of the chela and metasomal segments I am still panning toward U.mordax...Uroctonus at the least...

    Note: Uroctonus is not in Family Vaejovidae. It is in Family Chactidae as is Anuroctonus

  14. Prymal

    Prymal Arachnoking Old Timer


    That's why I suggested a count of the denticles of the chelal fingers to confirm an ID of either U. m. mordax or U. m. pluridens.

    mordax = 7/8
    pluridens = 8/9
    intergrades = 7/9

    As for Anuroctonus vs. Uroctonus (Scorpiones, Chactidae, Uroctoninae) - the most simple differentiating characteristics are telson, number of eyes, carapacal granulation, metasomal segment V (various characters) and patellar spur. However, locale indicated that it could not be A. phaiodactylus or A. pococki unless from unknown populations. Overall coloration is non-characteristic of any Anuroctonus spp.
    I'm still leaning toward U. m. pluridens due to what few characters I can clearly see in the photo and the dark, unbroken coloration.
    The surest way to tell is to count the number of denticles.
  15. parzifal

    parzifal Arachnopeon

    Unfortunately, the scorpion is no longer around for me to measure with a ruler or count its denticles. I'll keep that in mind for my next encounter. Most I can do now is share the raw photo, which I've posted here: http://www.forceandfire.com/images/misc/scorpion_large.jpg (2.25 MB) I'm not sure if that will help any, but it should give you a closer look with more detail.

    Regardless of whether its U. m. pluridens or U. m. mordax, it sounds like they're relatively similar, both occur in my region, and the advice about the nature of the scorpion remains the same. My brother is just a little freaked out that he was sleeping on the floor for a week when he visited, just a few feet from where I found this, hehe. Again, thank you all for the fabulous insight. I feel like I've learned a lot about scorpions... and all within 24 hours! :)
  16. skinheaddave

    skinheaddave SkorpionSkin Arachnosupporter

    If you ever want to find more, grab yourself a blacklight. Scorpions fluoresce under blacklight so if you shine the light around your garage, any scorpions will glow.

  17. Prymal

    Prymal Arachnoking Old Timer


    Both species are very similar and U. m. pluridens will probably end up being synonymized with U. m. mordax one day. Very beautiful and interesting scorps.
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