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Scorpions

Find, identify & discuss the insects of SANParks
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Tabs
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Unread post by Tabs » Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:04 pm

Good Advice 2 - Never reach into anything you can't clearly see eg. pots, your bags etc.


Amen to that! Although I am not afraid of any creepy-crawly-critter, the scorpion stings that I mentioned above came about during a visit to my Nursery's sponsored child in a very remote area in Kenya.

His mother had made a clay pot for me as a thank you gift. After receiving the gift I took it over to the World Vision vehicle and found a carrier bag to wrap it in, tucking the bag inside the pot, afraid that it may break on the goat track 'road' back to Nyatiki.

Unbeknown to me, a small scorpion had made it's home in the bottom of the pot and when I received the (very painful) double sting (on the heel of my hand and the first joint of my little finger) as I wrapped it, I simply assumed that there was a piece of thorn tree inside the pot which I had caught my hand on.

That night in Nyatiki and the following 3 days, which I spent visiting friends in Capetown, I was feeling quite ill with breathing difficulties and abdominal pains but assumed that I had caught a nasty virus - until I was packing for the next leg of my trip to Johannesburg and saw, on the bedroom floor next to the pot, a very large 'ant'.

My CT friend came to look and was horrified to see that it was a tiny thick-tailed scorp, subsequently identified in Joeys (I took it with me in a jar) by a Field-guide friend as a baby buthidae! She asked about my symptoms, looked at the swellings on my hand and wanted to take me to hospital immediately but, as it had, by then, been 4 days since being stung I declined as I was not only still breathing but the symptoms had also gone.

My Field guide friend said that I was extremely lucky that it was a baby scorp because, although their venom is as powerful as that of an adult, it's sting was small and she could only presume that it had not penetrated beyond the upper skin layers which meant that I had not recieved the 'full dose' of venom and/or that only a tiny amount of venom had entered my bloodstream.

In spite of this, I am still facinated by scorps and other venomous critters.

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bwana
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Unread post by bwana » Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:10 pm

Ouch! You are very lucky tabs! Scorpions are surprisingly transportable little critters...

My pot story comes from the farm where our next door neighbours wife reached up to a pot above her head in the pantry and promptly felt the thud of a cobra on her head. :shock:
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Twiga
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Unread post by Twiga » Fri Feb 04, 2005 4:39 pm

bwana wrote: I am sure poisenous or not a sting would be incredibly painful.


My mother was stung by a scorpion when I was a baby. She was busy bathing me and went to get a facecloth out of the cupboard to wash my face. She felt a prick and proceeded to shake the facecloth out over the bath (with baby sitting in it!) when a scorpion fell out. She quickly grabbed me out with one hand and then went to the doctor. Luckily it was'nt poisonous (thick-tailed) but her hand was swollen to double it's normal size and was EXTREMELY painful for weeks afterwards. In case anyone is wondering, we lived in Windhoek in Namibia for a couple of years.
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Unread post by Darwin » Thu May 31, 2007 2:49 pm

A lot of scorpions at KTP as well... especially hot, windy summer nights!

ALWAYS check your shoes in the morning before putting them on! And don't stick your hand into a hole... I know that it is stupid but sometimes you do things without thinking... and from experience a scorpion stung is quite painful! :redface:

However they don't deserve to be killed so just be on the lookout, wear closed shoes - especially at night and take care!

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Kingfisha
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Unread post by Kingfisha » Thu May 31, 2007 2:53 pm

Although a lot of scorpion stings occur on the feet, it seems that we do not protect our hands ! A pair of thick leather gloves now accompany us to all NP holidays and weekends. Hubby was stung on the finger when taking wood out of the bag ...and by one of the most venomous scorpions as well. He just made it to the Phalaborwa hospital...
I also had an encounter with a Pharabuthus in Kgalagadi once (was in April), was not stung, but it was close.....

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bert
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Unread post by bert » Thu May 31, 2007 2:57 pm

If camping in arid parks best thing is to take your shoes with you in the sleeping compartment of the tent.

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Bush Baptist
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Unread post by Bush Baptist » Thu May 31, 2007 4:32 pm

Scorpions will not attack, they just defend themselves when threatened. Most stings occur when the stung person was not aware of the scorpion.
I have seen quite a few in KTP from close range and they just want to get away or be left in peace.
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Kingfisha
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Unread post by Kingfisha » Fri Jun 01, 2007 7:51 am

That counts for most wild animals, they are more scared of us than we of them. But we do share the same environment, and this little bugger climbed into our wood - always a place to be aware of scorpions!
Because hospitals and dr's are often so far from these places, the treatment is quite important and one has to be prepared. ICE AND CELESTAMINE. O and my doctor told me to give the person a hand-ful of cortizones immediately with the celestamines, it works. But ice is no.1

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wildtuinman
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Unread post by wildtuinman » Fri Jun 01, 2007 7:56 am

muldooy wrote:He just made it to the Phalaborwa hospital...


As far as I understand people don't die from the venom itself, but rather from shock instead.

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Kingfisha
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Unread post by Kingfisha » Fri Jun 01, 2007 9:19 am

Hi Wildtuinman, quite correct. When my hubby arrived at Phalaborwa hospital they kept him overnight for observation, reason being that his blood pressure went through the roof! Apparently it is the body's response to the pain and that is the danger. But the ice helped to keep the pain in control and the venom from spreading faster. They immediately gave him a local anaesthetic to stop the pain.

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madach
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Unread post by madach » Fri Jun 01, 2007 10:59 am

An easy way to find scorpions at night is by using an ultra violet light.
Scorpions will reflect the ultra violet light in the same way as white T-shirts reflect blacklight (is that also ultra violet light?).
I have a small torch that has only one ultra violet LED but with that torch I can find scorpions up to 6 meters away.
If you walk in a camp at night you'll be amazed how many scorpions you can find.

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Kingfisha
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Unread post by Kingfisha » Fri Jun 01, 2007 3:16 pm

Yes it is good to share these experiences with others, can only help.
I believe the most important is also to get the victim into a vehicle and start driving immediately to the closest hospital.
Take the scorpion with if you can.
Always have more than just the driver and the victim in the car - someone else who can help when there is an emergency so the driver does not have to stop.
Also a lesson we learnt.
We should actually open a post "what to do in an emergency" in the Parks - may save a life.

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richardharris
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Unread post by richardharris » Fri Jun 01, 2007 3:27 pm

I have no problem with such a topic - but I do think we need to be careful not to make too much of this and frighten visitors. For instance, it took several visits at various times of year, before I saw a scorpion - and I love the smaller animals not just the big 5. Mind you, I wasn't using UV light! Outside of summer I suspect you will be 'lucky' to see one.

The same goes for most other emergencies - whether snakes, elephants or poachers. 20 years ago, there were even warnings in the huts on what to do in case of insurrection! OK, advice on what to do when approached by elephant - but not to make it seem that several tourists are killed or injured every year in the Kruger.

Richard

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Kingfisha
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Unread post by Kingfisha » Fri Jun 01, 2007 3:34 pm

Richard, you are so right. I agree, but when it does happen it is quite a relief to know what to do. As I say, to share this 'for in case only" it may save someone oneday. I think its because I like to be prepared....also enjoy the smaller animals more and get to know them, their habits and their role in nature - it will be such a pleasure if more people can understand the big picture...not only the big 5!

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madach
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Unread post by madach » Wed May 07, 2008 11:54 pm

I couldn't find the topic where I've posted the original UV pictures of scorpions under UV light, so I'll post this here.

I'm quite chuffed about the fact that one of my pictures of a scorpions in UV-light has been selected for the final stage of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2008 competition (which is the ultimate competition for wildlife photograpers) :dance:

Fingers crossed for the final result in this competition....


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