THE SWIMMING SCORPION

Lychas mucronatus (Chi­nese swimming scorpion or Or­nate Bark Scorpion)

Animal Scene - - SPOTLIGHT - Text by NYZA HO Photos by JEFFREY C. LIM

Did you know that scor­pi­ons also ex­ist in the wild here in the Philip­pines? While many Filipinos doubt this, lo­cal scor­pi­ons are ac­tu­ally quite com­mon. Some lo­cal scor­pi­ons ex­ist in or on the bark of trees, while some thrive in the hu­mid forests of the Philip­pines. What may sur­prise you is that some scor­pi­ons can swim. Take the Chi­nese swimming scorpion or Lychas mucronatus. This scorpion is found in the Philip­pines as well as some other neigh­bor­ing Asian coun­tries.

At the mo­ment Lychas mucronatus is still com­monly found in the wild. How­ever some agri­cul­tural prac­tices and de­for­esta­tion con­tin­u­ously puts some spec­i­mens at risk of habi­tat loss and some spec­i­mens are be­ing pushed away from their nat­u­ral habi­tat, and some in­di­vid­u­als are find­ing their way in sub­ur­ban ar­eas where they come across peo­ple ev­ery now and then. Does the Lychas mucronatus re­ally swim? Some ac­counts has been recorded in other coun­tries in which the Lychas mucronatus has been ob­served to swim when try­ing to es­cape threats or hunt food. How­ever, no suc­cess­ful at­tempts to du­pli­cate this be­hav­ior in cap­tiv­ity have been made here in the Philip­pines so far. The Lychas mucronatus of­ten lives near wa­ter, but it is also able to tol­er­ate dry­ness in the habi­tat fairly well, so it de­pends on whether the in­di­vid­ual spec­i­men is well adapted to wet or dry sur­round­ings in its nat­u­ral habi­tat since some spec­i­mens are more adapted to dry­ness than wet­ness of their habi­tat. The spec­i­mens liv­ing near the bod­ies of wa­ter were the ones recorded to be able to swim in some coun­tries. This species is very in­ter­est­ing since it can ac­tu­ally swim when nec­es­sary, though this is only on rare oc­ca­sions. Its pop­u­la­tion is wide­spread along cen­tral and South­east Asia, and it is even served as a del­i­cacy in other coun­tries.

WHAT ARE THE OTHER SCOR­PI­ONS THAT CAN BE FOUND IN THE PHILIP­PINES?

Lychas mucronatus is a species that can be bred in cap­tiv­ity fairly easily. The sex­ual di­mor­phism (dif­fer­ence be­tween male and fe­male) of the Lychas mucronatus is very ev­i­dent in their claws or chela, so hu­man se­lec­tion of the spec­i­mens for cap­tive breed­ing can be done easily. The ges­ta­tion pe­riod for this spec­i­men is 3-4 months, depend­ing on the tem­per­a­ture where they are. Warmer tem­per­a­tures make their ges­ta­tion pe­ri­ods shorter. Ideally, Lychas mucronatus should be housed in tall con­tain­ers with just enough floor area for them to roam around and hunt for food. In their nat­u­ral habi­tat, they usu­ally stay on the bark of trees; thus, the height of their en­clo­sure is nec­es­sary for them to live com­fort­ably. This also mim­ics their nat­u­ral habi­tat. The Lychas mucronatus can live in colonies or small groups, they are safe to be housed to­gether, how­ever some­times can­ni­bal­ism still takes place when there are weaker spec­i­mens in the colony or while an in­di­vid­ual is in its molt­ing or post­molt phase.

The Chaer­ilus celeben­sis, Heterometrus longi­manus, Lychas mucronatus, Liocheles aus­tralasiae and sev­eral more species of scor­pi­ons can be found in the Philip­pines. All scor­pi­ons found in the Philip­pines are ei­ther forest­d­welling or bark-dwelling scor­pi­ons since this is a trop­i­cal coun­try.

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