Giant vinegaroons typically live in arid, desert habitats in the southwest, and scrub forests and grasslands in Florida. They have also been found in dry mountainous areas, as high as about 6,000 m. They can be found taking shelter beneath plant debris, in rock crevices, or in burrows dug by other animals or themselves. (Eisner, et al., 1961; Hembree, 2013; Kern Jr. and Mitchell, 2011; Punzo, 2005; Punzo, 2006)
- Other Habitat Features
- Range elevation
- 6000 (high) m
- 19685.04 (high) ft
Giant vinegaroons resemble scorpions in many aspects, but are actually more closely related to spiders. Their pedipalps are modified into two large claws, and they have two front legs that are held aloft, and six legs that are used for locomotion. They have a thin, flexible tail extending from the end of their abdomen, giving them the common name 'whip scorpions'. Their body is divided into two parts, the cephalothorax (prosoma) and the abdomen (opithosoma). Both sections are flat and oval-shaped. Their walking legs have 7 segments, and their tarsi have 3 parts, ending in 2 claws. There is one pair of eyes located on the front of their head, while there are 3 more eyes on each side of their head. (Hembree, 2013; Punzo, 2005; Schmerge, et al., 2013; Weygoldt, 1970; Weygoldt, 1971)is one of the largest species of vinegaroons, growing to lengths of 40 to 60 mm, not including the tail. The body is typically black, with some sections or appendages brown or reddish-brown. Males have larger pedipalps and a movable finger on the palps. Nymphs resemble adults, though they lack secondary sexual characteristics, such as spines on the palpal trochanter, and the movable finger on the male pedipalps. Nymphal males and females have identical claws.
- Sexual Dimorphism
- Range length
- 40 to 60 mm
- 1.57 to 2.36 in
- Development - Life Cycle
After mating, females carry the fertilized eggs internally for a few months. They then lay the eggs in a fluid filled sac, with each sac containing 30 to 40 eggs. The eggs are protected from dessication by a moist membrane. The sac is carried by the female, held from her abdomen. Females remain in their burrow during this process for an additional two months, staying motionless and holding her abdomen and the egg sac off the ground while the eggs develop. Finally, the eggs hatch and climb aboard the female's back, remaining there about a month until their first molt. By this time, the female is usually so weak and starved that she falls into a state of lethargy, and eventually dies. Because of this, females only produce one egg sac in their lives. (Cloudsley-Thompson, 1968; Hembree, 2013; Kern Jr. and Mitchell, 2011)reaches sexual maturity in 3 to 4 years.
- Key Reproductive Features
- seasonal breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding interval
- Females breed only once during their lives.
- Breeding season
- Giant vinegaroons mate in the fall.
- Range number of offspring
- 30 to 40
- Average time to independence
- 1 months
- Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
- 3 to 4 years
- Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
- 3 to 4 years
- Parental Investment
- female parental care
- Typical lifespan
- 4 to 7+ years
- Typical lifespan
Adults may remain in the same burrow for months, though at other times burrows can be temporary. Their home range is restricted only to how far an individual can walk, though they likely remain in the same general area. (Hembree, 2013)
Communication and Perception
Giant vinegaroons walk on their posterior 3 pairs of legs, and use their first pair of legs as sensory organs. The first pair of legs, often referred to as antenniform legs, are carried off the ground, and have receptors on them to detect chemical and tactile stimuli. They also detect vibrations. They are used to find prey and mates, since they are nocturnal, and their vision is weak. Their eyes can distinguish light and dark, but probably nothing more. They walk along slowly, with their antenniform legs moving along the ground and other substrates. If their antenniform legs come into contact with a prey item, they quickly snatch it with their pedipalps. The antenniform legs can also be used to find water sources, such as moist sand. Their tail and modified pedipalps also act as sensory organs. The pairs of legs used for locomotion are covered in sensory hairs. Tactile connections are used throughout the mating process, as the male holds on to the female using his palps, chelicerae, and antenniform legs. (Cloudsley-Thompson, 1968; Crawford and Cloudsle, 1971; Kern Jr. and Mitchell, 2011; Punzo, 2006; Schmerge, et al., 2013; Weygoldt, 1970)
- Communication Channels
Arthropods, primarily insects such as cockroaches and crickets, as well as millipedes, and other arachnids. It has even been recorded feeding on small frogs and toads. It uses its large pedipalps to hold prey, while the chelicerae tear and bite the prey. (Carrel and Britt, 2009; Cloudsley-Thompson, 1968; Punzo, 2006; Schmerge, et al., 2013)is a carnivore. It is an efficient predator that feeds on a variety of
- Animal Foods
- terrestrial non-insect arthropods
To defend itself, grasshopper mice, deer mice, and shrews, can successfully prey on giant vinegaroons, despite the vinegar spray. These small animals are often very aggressive and persistent, attacking the vinegaroons until they are depleted. Camel spiders are also predators. Larger mammals such as raccoons, armadillos, and feral hogs are also likely predators. (Eisner, et al., 1961; Punzo, 2006; Schmerge, et al., 2013)can spray a substance, mainly comprised of acetic acid, from the pygidial gland at the rear of the body, by the base of the tail. This spray is what gives them the common name 'vinegaroons'. The spray is very effective at warding off predators, and it lingers in the air. Giant vinegaroons are also very accurate with their aim, and since they only spray when physically prodded or touched, predators are at a close range when sprayed. Once a predator has been sprayed, it is usually observed darting away, shaking its head and trying to clean itself, obviously in distress. Giant vinegaroons can discharge their spray as many as 19 times in a row before being depleted. Those that are depleted are able to spray again by the next day. Some small mammals, such as
Giant vinegaroons are significant predators of many insects and other arthropods. They are also occasionally prey to small mammals such as deer mice and shrews, as well as larger mammals such as raccoons and wild hogs. (Eisner, et al., 1961; Punzo, 2006; Schmerge, et al., 2013)
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Giant vinegaroons can be kept as pets, similar to tarantulas. They are typically kept in aquariums or similar habitats, and are fed insects such as crickets. They can be handled with care. (Backwater Reptiles, 2011)
- Positive Impacts
- pet trade
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
- Negative Impacts
- injures humans
has no special conservation status.
Angela Miner (author), Animal Diversity Web Staff, Leila Siciliano Martina (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
- desert or dunes
in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
- female parental care
parental care is carried out by females
union of egg and spermatozoan
Referring to a burrowing life-style or behavior, specialized for digging or burrowing.
having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
- internal fertilization
fertilization takes place within the female's body
A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
- pet trade
the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.
an animal which has a substance capable of killing, injuring, or impairing other animals through its chemical action (for example, the skin of poison dart frogs).
- scrub forest
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
offspring are all produced in a single group (litter, clutch, etc.), after which the parent usually dies. Semelparous organisms often only live through a single season/year (or other periodic change in conditions) but may live for many seasons. In both cases reproduction occurs as a single investment of energy in offspring, with no future chance for investment in reproduction.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
- sexual ornamentation
one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
- tropical savanna and grassland
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
- temperate grassland
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others
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