Español || English || Português  

EscozulCirculoThe blue scorpion

Rhopalurus junceus. The blue scorpion has only one sting in its tail.


Centruroides gracilis. This is not the blue scorpion. It has two stings in its tail.


Rhopalurus junceus sting close-up.


Rhopalurus junceus


Rhopalurus junceus female showing her babies.

EscozulCirculoThe 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