Euscorpius Flavicaudis – The UK’s Only Wild Scorpion
The Scorpion is not a creature you would associate with the term ‘UK wildlife’. When we think of wild scorpions we tend to think of more rugged and dry conditions – the county of Kent in the UK would probably be a place you would least expect an encounter with a wild scorpion.
The Yellow Tailed Scorpion is, however, the UK’s only wild scorpion species, the majority of which can be found in Kent. It is not native to the UK but is instead an invasive specie having been accidentally introduced via Sheerness Dockyard on the Isle of Sheppey. Native to Southern Europe and Northwest Africa, this is thought to be the northern most point the yellow tailed scorpion – Euscorpius Flavicaudis – can be found in the world. Originally believed to have been introduced in the 18th century during the reign of George III, there is an estimated 10,000 living on the Isle of Sheppey.
Black with a yellow-brown tail and legs, this scorpion is considered small with the adults growing to approximately 1.4″ – 1.8″ long. Like most scorpions, the yellow tail is a stinger, although there seems to be no general consensus on the severity of their sting. Many report that it is mostly harmless, with their sting often being compared to that of a bee. Some, however, report that their sting can be intensively painful and cause swelling and numbness. In extreme cases you could also experience nausea, excessive sweating, muscle twitching and hypertension. Children are said to be most at risk from the yellow tailed sting so always best to seek medical assistance immediately if you happen to be stung by one of these creatures.
One of the most interesting features of the yellow tailed scorpion is its incredibly slow metabolism meaning they only need to eat four or five times a year a year to survive. However, they have been known to resort to cannibalism when living in large colonies where food resources may be scarce, even for a creature which needs so little.
In August of 2015 the warmer weather saw the scorpion population explode and reports of sightings started cropping up in London, Hampshire, and Dorset. Even before then reports of the odd scorpion appearing in London and even Wales can be found, although nothing points to another established colony like the one in Kent.
An unusual addition to UK wildlife, these nocturnal creatures tend to hide themselves well in the cracks of buildings and keep themselves to themselves. Being relatively harmless there is usually nothing to report on them, save for the odd appearance in unsuspected places such as Swansea University or the home of BBC 6 music’s Ben Watt. With the UK experiencing warmer and warmer conditions it will be interesting to see what impact this has on the Yellow Tailed Scorpion and its presence in the UK.
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