The blue scorpion
junceus. The blue scorpion has only one sting in its tail.
gracilis. This is not the blue scorpion. It has two stings in
junceus sting close-up.
junceus female showing her babies.
The blue scorpion: Rhopalurus junceus
ENDEMICITY AND DISTRIBUTION.- The blue scorpion Rhopalurus junceus
is an endemic species from Cuba. This means that it is only found
in Cuba. According to what has been stated at the Toxinology event
that took place in Guantánamo at the end of November 2005,
the blue scorpion is found inhabiting the entire Cuban archipelago
including the adjacent keys. It is not an urban species, meaning that
it does not inhabit with human beings in the city. The Cuban peasants
also know him as the "red scorpion".
+ SIZE.- It is the largest of
all the Cuban scorpions. It can only compare in size with the Centruroides
gracilis species but both are clearly anatomically distinguishable.
The blue scorpion Rhopalurus junceus has only one large sting
in its tail while the Centruroides gracilis has two: a big
and a smaller one (see the pictures on the left).
+ ECOLOGY.- The blue scorpion
has great ecological plasticity which allows it to adjust to distinct
habitats including high humidity environments. This species is very
protective of its territory and they resort to cannibalism frequently.
For this reason, it is advisable to keep them isolated from each other
while in captivity; otherwise the populations could decline rapidly.
+ FEEDING AND LIFE UNDER CAPTIVITY.-
It basically eats insects and rarely lizards. The specialists say
that when the blue scorpion is bred in captivity, it is subjected
to high levels of stress, must eat at least once a week and drink
water frequently. The mortality rate in captivity is co-related to
the food, water and stress factors. The specialists believe it is
advisable to use a population of scorpions during 6 months and set
them free into their natural environment after this period of time,
because this is the effective period where the blue scorpion venom
concentration remains constant and of good quality.
The reproduction of the blue scorpion in captivity is very difficult
to develop. Each female scorpion gives birth to about 42 to 47 live
young, which easily die at the laboratory. Cuban laboratories set free a large
number of these young scorpions into nature given the difficulty of
a successful adaptation to captivity. According to Dr. Josefina Cao's
explanation, a scorpion moults frequently up to 5 or 7 times before
reaching maturity, and many times it is difficult to differentiate
a scorpion in stage 6 from an adult one. This is important to know
because the venom of an adult scorpion is different from the venom
of a young scorpion