Arabian fat-tailed scorpion (Androctonus crassicauda)
|Size||Length: 8 – 10 cm (2)|
The Arabian fat-tailed scorpion has yet to be classified by the IUCN.
The Arabian fat-tailed scorpion (Androctonus crassicauda) is a formidable predator, with a thick, powerful tail that is equipped with a sting capable of injecting potentially lethal venom (3) (4) (5). The body is divided into many segments and has several pairs of modified appendages, including characteristic, claw-like pedipalps which are used in defence and for restraining prey. Usually reddish-brown in colour, the Arabian fat-tailed scorpion may also vary between brown to black (2) (4), with dark, raised keels on several parts of the body giving a rough and grainy appearance. The pedipalps and tail of the Arabian fat-tailed scorpion have many spiny, sensory hairs, called ‘setae’, while hairs and bristles also cover the soles of the feet (3) (6).
The Arabian fat-tailed scorpion is found in Egypt and throughout the Middle East, including the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Iraq, Israel and Turkey (1) (2).
The Arabian fat-tailed scorpion typically inhabits desert environments. It shelters during the day in burrows excavated in the sand; however, it may also be found hiding under wood, loose stones and rubble, in cracks between bricks, and inside houses (2) (3) (4).
The Arabian fat-tailed scorpion is a proficient nocturnal predator, foraging opportunistically for small insects, spiders and various other prey items that come within easy reach. The pedipalps are well adapted to help grasp and crush the prey, while the chelicerae (appendages modified for feeding and grooming), are used as aids to tear food apart (6) (7) (8).
During the mating season, the male Arabian fat-tailed scorpion will abandon its burrow in search of a mature female. The male grasps the female by the pedipalps and leads a complex courtship ritual, known as a ‘promenade à deux’, until a suitable place for the male to deposit a spermatophore is found. Guided by the male, the female then moves into a position to take up the sperm. The Arabian fat-tailed scorpion is viviparous, meaning that the young develop inside the female after fertilisation, and are born live. The litter size of the Arabian fat-tailed scorpion ranges from 30 to 46 young, which climb onto the back of the female and remain there until after the first moult (typically several days). A juvenile Arabian fat-tailed scorpion increases in weight and moults an average of six times before it becomes fully mature (3) (6).
The venom injected by the sting (also called the telson) of the Arabian fat-tailed scorpion is a powerful neurotoxin, which affects the function of nerve cells and the nervous system (3) (6). It is poisonous to a wide range of animals, including humans and other mammals, birds and arthropods (6).
There are no known to threats to the Arabian fat-tailed scorpion.
There are no known conservation measures in place for the Arabian fat-tailed scorpion.
For further information on the Arabian fat-tailed scorpion and other similar species, see:
The Scorpion Files:
Scorpion Systematics Research Group, American Museum of Natural History:
For further information on conservation in Abu Dhabi and the UAE, see:
The Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi:
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- Arthropods: a very diverse phylum (a major grouping of animals) that includes crustaceans, insects and arachnids. All arthropods have paired jointed limbs and a hard external skeleton (exoskeleton).
- Chelicerae: pair of appendages on the ‘head’ of an arachnid (spiders, scorpions, mites, harvestmen etc). In spiders and harvestmen these appendages are jointed and are used to kill prey, and in defence. In spiders there is a poison gland at the base of each chelicera, from where a duct leads to the tip of the fang.
- Fertilisation: the fusion of gametes (male and female reproductive cells) to produce an embryo, which grows into a new individual.
- Keel: a projecting ridge along a flat or curved surface, particularly down the middle.
- Moult: in insects, referring to stages of growth, whereby the hard outer layer of the body (the exoskeleton) is shed and the body becomes larger.
- Nocturnal: active at night.
- Pedipalps: in arachnids (a group including spiders and scorpions), a pair of appendages which are modified for many uses, such as killing and manipulating prey, mating, defence and sensory perception.
- Spermatophore: gelatinous jelly cone with a sperm cap deposited by a male during courtship and picked up by the cloacal lips of the female.
- Viviparous: giving birth to live offspring that develop inside the mother’s body.
UNEP-WCMC (October, 2010)
- Ozkan, O., Adiguzel, S. and Kar, S. (2006) Parametric values of Androctonus crassicauda (Oliver, 1807) (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Turkey. Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases, 12(4): 549-559.
- Bonnet, M.S. (1997) Toxicology of Androctonus scorpion. British Homeopathic Journal, 86: 142-151.
The Scorpion Files (October, 2010)
- Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
- Polis, G.A. (1990) The Biology of Scorpions. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
- Zarei, A., Rafinejad, J., Shemshad, K. and Khaghani, R. (2009) Faunistic study and biodiversity of scorpions in Qeshm Island (Persian Gulf). Iranian Journal of Arthropod-borne Diseases, 3(1): 46-52.
- Stewart, A.K. (2006) Observations on prey-capture behaviour of Androctonus crassicauda (Oliver, 1807) (Scorpiones: Buthidae) in Northern Iraq. Euscorpious Occasional Publications in Scorpiology, 37: 1-9.