Tailless Whip Scorpion

Last updated: October 13, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© K Hanley CHDPhoto/Shutterstock.com

The average lifespan of these strange creatures is 5 to 10 years; however, tailless whip scorpions have been known to live up to a whopping 15 years in captivity!


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Tailless Whip Scorpion Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Arthropoda
Class
Arachnida
Order
Amblypygi

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Tailless Whip Scorpion Conservation Status

Tailless Whip Scorpion Locations

Tailless Whip Scorpion Locations

Tailless Whip Scorpion Facts

Prey
Crickets, Locusts, Termites, Worms, other small vertebrates
Group Behavior
  • Solitary/Group
Fun Fact
The average lifespan of these strange creatures is 5 to 10 years; however, tailless whip scorpions have been known to live up to a whopping 15 years in captivity!
Other Name(s)
Whip spider and cave spider
Habitat
Temperate and tropical scrub forests all over the world
Predators
Bats, Lizards, Reptiles, other insect-eaters
Diet
Insectivore
Lifestyle
  • Nocturnal
Common Name
Tailless whip scorpion
Special Features
Long pinchers
Number Of Species
154
Location
Africa, North America, South America, Asia

Tailless Whip Scorpion Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
  • Blue
  • Black
  • White
  • Beige
Lifespan
5 to 10 years
Length
2 to 27 inches
Venomous
No
Aggression
Low

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Tailles whip scorpions are also known as whip spiders and fall under an ancient order of Amblypygi. This order consists of 5 families, 17 genera, and approximately 155 species. The most common species are Damon diadema and Damon variegatus.

Despite their name, they are neither spiders nor scorpions. Instead, they are known as arthropods, a unique group of invertebrates with jointed limbs, segmented bodies, and hard exoskeletons. Other members of this order include crustaceans and some insect species.

Another name for these weird-looking creatures is cave spiders because large groups are often formed in close areas like caves. However, the tailless whip spiders derived their name because of their whip-like front legs, but they have a total of eight legs.

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These whip legs, also known as antenniform legs, are primarily 2.5 times longer than the other legs. These pinchers are the first pair of legs on their bodies, using them as sensory organs to help navigate in the dark.

These anthropods are often confused with vinegaroons as they are members of the order Thelyphonida. However, they are related to the order of Amblypygi.

They occur in tropical and subtropical areas around the globe and are one of the few arachnids to exhibit social behavior. While tailless whip scorpions may look intimidating, they are not dangerous or poisonous. In fact, they don’t have any fangs or glands for carrying venom or for silk.



Tailless Whip Scorpion Scientific Name

There are many species of whip spiders, all with different scientific names. The two most common species are:

However, they are best known as Amblypygi, which translates to “blunt bottom” or “blunt tail” because of the absence of a tail.

There are several families in this order which include:

  • Euamblypygi
  • Palaeoamblypygi
  • Charinidae
  • Charontidae
  • Phrynichidae
  • Phrynidae

Today there are over 155 species of tailless whip scorpions, and they date back to ancient times with several extinct species that were discovered through fossilized remains.

Tailless Whip Scorpion Appearance

Tailless whipscorpion

Another name for these weird-looking creatures is cave spiders because large groups are often formed in close areas like caves.

©Dr. Morley Read/Shutterstock.com

Scientists believe tailless whip scorpions are over 358 million years old and resemble a mix between crabs, spiders, and scorpions. They have wide, flat, and segmented bodies, with a series of flexible appendages that scurry across the ground as it moves.

Whip spiders have two pinchers and eight legs that bend in an L-shape. In addition, they have eight eyes that are clearly visible on the top of their heads.

Their coloring and size differ depending on the species; there are tiny specimens with leg spans of only 2-3 inches, while others can reach monstrous sizes with leg spans of 25 to 27 inches. For example:

  • Damon diademaone of the rare cave spiders with patterned markings, with a striped abdomen and legs. Their color ranges from light brown to blue-black.
  • Charon grayi – named the giant whip spider because its pinchers can reach lengths of 27 inches long, which is more than three times its body length.
  • Phrynus marginemaculatus – has thick, dagger-like pinchers that are solid black in color.
  • Acanthophrynus coronatus – is brown or tan in color with hairy legs.

Tailless Whip Scorpion Behavior

Whip spiders are nocturnal as they are primarily active at night. Even though they have eight eyes, they operate by touch more than sight, so the darkness does not affect them.

These unique creatures are solitary; however, it is not unusual for them to form groups in close areas like caves. Also, unlike the Emperor scorpion, they are not territorial, as they don’t fight over food but hunt around each other. However, Emperor scorpions will engage in battles over territory, which usually leads to one of the fighters’ deaths.

Tailless Whip Scorpion Habitat

These creatures live in tropical and subtropical forests all over the world. However, they usually prefer to live in crevices, caves, or under large boulders in elevated areas. They thrive in humid conditions and show social behavior by hiding in groups under debris and leaves during the day.

However, the biggest groups are usually found in caves. In addition, they are often found in homes but are not dangerous to humans. It is very rare to encounter a tailless whip scorpion as they are nocturnal and generally only come out at night to hunt.

Other habitats include:

  • Rainforests
  • Savannahs
  • Semi-deserts

Tailless Whip Scorpion Diet

Tailless whip scorpions have a varied diet that includes:

Generally, they usually prey on animals the same size as their abdomens. In addition, there is a species called Phrynus longipes from the Caribbean that eats large flies.

When kept in captivity, whip spiders only need to eat once a week and should not be fed before or after molting.

They cannot bite or chew their food. So instead, tailless whip scorpions skewer their prey with their pinchers and use their mandibles to grind and liquefy the meal before swallowing.

Tailless Whip Scorpion Predators and Threats

These anthropods have many predators, which include:

They are primarily at risk when they are young and haven’t developed their hardy exoskeletons yet. In addition, juveniles are easy to find in the dark because of their bright colors, which start to fade as they age.

As a whole, most species of tailless whip scorpions are very common and found all over the world. Most are not threatened or protected and are listed as Least Concern on IUCN’s Red List. However, some species are more at risk than others.

For example,  the Indian Ocean whip spider (Phrynichus scaber) is listed as Vulnerable on IUCN’s redlist. In addition, there are a few species that are already extinct, which include:

  • Phrynidae britopygus
  • Paracharontidae graeophonus

Tailless Whip Scorpion Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

Despite their scary appearance, tailless whip scorpions have surprisingly gentle behavior when it comes to mating and raising their young.

The males will court the females, and this ritual consists of the pair feeling each other with their pinchers, gently stroking each other’s bodies while performing simple dances. This ritual can take several hours until both parties are ready for the next stage.

Once they are ready to start breeding, the male tailless whip scorpion will lay spermatophores on the ground and tenderly convinces the female to pick them up, so physical contact isn’t necessary for copulation.

Next, the female will secure the sperm and produce eggs, which she will carry on her back until they are ready to hatch.

What Baby Tailless Whip Scorpions Look Like

When the tailless whip scorpion hatchlings are born, they are entirely helpless. These tiny embryonic anthropods are born white and cling to their mother’s back for a few weeks after hatching. They only leave their mother once they molt into their second, more substantial form.

Lifespan

The average lifespan of these strange creatures is 5 to 10 years; however,  tailless whip scorpions have been known to live up to a whopping 15 years in captivity!

Tailless Whip Scorpion Population

There is no exact population number for whip spiders as the order contains so many different species. But, while most of their populations aren’t threatened, deforestation and habitat loss could soon become a problem and reduce their numbers.

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About the Author

Chanel Coetzee is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily focusing on big cats, dogs, and travel. Chanel has been writing and researching about animals for over 10 years. She has also worked closely with big cats like lions, cheetahs, leopards, and tigers at a rescue and rehabilitation center in South Africa since 2009. As a resident of Cape Town, South Africa, Chanel enjoys beach walks with her Stafford bull terrier and traveling off the beaten path.

Tailless Whip Scorpion FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are tailless whip scorpions harmful?

They are often found in homes but are not dangerous to humans.

Are tailless whip scorpions good pets?

Yes, tailless whip scorpions do not bite, are not poisonous, and make great pets.

Are whip scorpions venomous?

No, tailless whip scorpions are not poisonous and do not bite.

How big do tailless whip scorpions get?

There are tiny specimens with leg spans of only 2-3 inches, while others can reach monstrous sizes with leg spans of 25 to 27 inches.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Orkin, Available here: https://www.orkin.com/pests/stinging-pests/scorpions/tailless-whip-scorpions
  2. Kidadl, Available here: https://kidadl.com/facts/animals/tailless-whip-scorpion-facts
  3. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amblypygi
  4. Everywhere Wild, Available here: https://everywherewild.com/tailless-whip-scorpion/
  5. Agricultural Research Council, Available here: https://www.arc.agric.za/arc-ppri/Pages/SANSA/Whipspiders.aspx

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