Explainer: 11 things to know about scorpions

The most common scorpion in Rwanda is the Hemiscorpius lepturus, known for its potent venom. Courtesy

Rwanda is home to several species of scorpions, which typically inhabit dry, rocky areas. However, they can occasionally venture into human dwellings in search of food, water, or shelter. The Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) has advised residents to be cautious and released a toll-free emergency number (114) to call in case of a scorpion sting.

ALSO READ: RBC urges Rwandans to be vigilant about scorpions

Here are 11 key things to know about scorpions in Rwanda:

Hemiscorpius Lepturus: Rwanda’s most common and dangerous scorpion

The most common scorpion in Rwanda is the Hemiscorpius lepturus, known for its potent venom. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), Hemiscorpius lepturus is responsible for 15% of scorpion sting cases but causes 89% of deaths. Its venom is highly toxic, leading to complications like acute renal failure, thrombocytopenia, and liver damage.

Scorpions: Lifecycle and behavior

Scorpions are related to spiders, ticks, and mites. They start life as eggs, which hatch within their mother’s body. The young scorpions climb onto their mother’s back for protection before venturing off on their own. Scorpions mature within about a year and can live between three and five years, depending on the species and environment.

Nocturnal hunters

Scorpions are nocturnal predators that hunt at night. They use their pincers to trap prey and their venom to subdue it before tearing it apart to eat.

Diverse in appearance

Scorpions can vary in size, color, and shape. They all have two pincers, eight legs, and a tail with a stinger at the end.

Depending on the species, they can be as short as half an inch or as long as seven inches.

Habitat preferences

Scorpions prefer dry environments, but they can also be found in grasslands, forests, and caves. Indoors, they often hide in basements, crawl spaces, attics, or between walls. They are attracted to damp areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and around pipes.

Long survival without food or water

Scorpions are hardy predators that can survive up to two years without food or water, depending on their species and developmental stage.

Venomous but not always deadly

While all scorpions have venom, most species do not pose a serious threat to humans. However, certain species, like Hemiscorpius lepturus, can be lethal. Younger scorpions often have more toxic venom than adults of the same species.

Scorpions kill more people than other animals (After Snakes)

Despite their fearsome reputation, only a small percentage of scorpions are deadly to humans. Out of around 1,500 species, only about 30 are harmful to people. The bark scorpion, found in Arizona, is one of the most dangerous species in North America.

Scorpion Stings: symptoms and risks

Scorpion stings can cause mild to severe reactions, with symptoms ranging from redness and pain to muscle spasms and seizures. Children under six are more likely to have severe reactions. If symptoms worsen within 2 to 4 hours of the sting, seek medical attention immediately.

First aid for scorpion stings

If you are stung by a scorpion, remain calm to prevent venom spread. Call a healthcare provider or poison control center for guidance. Wash the sting with soap and water, and apply ice in 10-minute intervals. It’s advisable to remove jewelry in case of swelling. Avoid submerging the limb in ice water.

Preventing scorpions in the home

To keep scorpions out of your home, seal cracks and gaps around doors, windows, roof eaves, and pipes. Keep your yard tidy by removing clutter, trimming grass, and elevating garbage bins. Consider using insecticides designed for scorpions to create a protective barrier around your home. If scorpions persist or you experience a serious infestation, contact a professional exterminator.

Src: https://www.newtimes.co.rw/article/16192/news/health/explainer-11-things-to-know-about-scorpions



Joan Mbabazi 


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