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Herbst plate1.jpg
Heterometrus indus, historical illustration (as Scorpio afer) from J.F.W. Herbst's Natursystem der ungeflügelten Insekten (1800).[2]
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Scorpiones
Family: Scorpionidae
Genus: Heterometrus
Ehrenberg, 1828
Type species
Buthus (Heterometrus) spinifer
Ehrenberg, 1828[1]
About 33 species
  • Palamnaeus Thorell, 1876
  • Heterometrus (Chersonesometrus) Couzijn, 1978
  • Heterometrus (Gigantometrus) Couzijn, 1978
  • Heterometrus (Javanimetrus) Couzijn, 1981
  • Heterometrus (Srilankametrus) Couzijn, 1981

Heterometrus, whose members are also known by the collective vernacular name giant forest scorpions, is a genus of scorpions belonging to the family Scorpionidae. It is distributed widely across tropical and subtropical southeastern Asia, including Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and China (Tibet).[3][4] It is notable for containing some of the largest living species of scorpions.


The genus was introduced by C.G. Ehrenberg (in Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1828), originally as a subgenus of the genus Buthus.[5] It was elevated to genus rank by F. Karsch in 1879.[1] H.W.C. Couzijn (1978, 1981)[6][7] subdivided the genus into several subgenera, but F. Kovařík (2004)[3] synonymized these subgenera with the nominal genus.


The content of this genus may vary, depending on the authority. At least 33 species are known, many of which are quite similar in appearance:[3][7][8]

General characteristics[edit]

Members of Heterometrus are generally large-sized scorpions (100–200 mm or about 4-8 in total length). Coloration is dark in most species, often uniformly brown or black, sometimes with a greenish shine, with brighter-colored telson, walking legs, and/or pedipalp pincers in some species. The scorpions are heavily built with especially powerful and globose pedipalp pionkes, broad mesosomal tergites and a proportionally slender and thin metasoma. The telson is proportionally small and the stinger is often shorter than the vesicle. The cephalothorax and mesosoma are largely devoid of carinae and granulation and the median eyes are situated in a small, lenticular depression on the cephalothorax. Some species are parthenogenic.[3][7]

Heterometrus bengalensis Koch (satara, maharashtra)

Orthobothriotaxy type C. Pedipalp femur with three trichobothria and pedipalp patella consists with 19 trichobothria. Pedipalp chela with 26 trichobothria. Retrolateral pedal spurs are absent. Stridulatory organ is located on the opposing surfaces of pedipalp coxa and first leg.[10]


As in other genera of the Scorpionidae, the symptoms from Heterometrus envenomations are rather mild and no human fatalities are known.[7] The sting causes local pain, inflammation, oedema, swelling, and redness of the skin, lasting for hours to a few days. Plant extracts known in the traditional Thai medicine as natural scorpion venom antidotes are effective as symptomatic treatment of H. laoticus stings.[11] The protein heteroscorpine-1 was found the major component of the venom in H. laoticus.[12]

Habitat for the scorpion[edit]

Species of Heterometrus live in vegetated, often forested, humid regions with subtropical to tropical climates. As most scorpions, they are predominantly nocturnal and hide in burrows, below logs, and in leaf litter.

In captivity[edit]

Due to their impressive size, low toxicity, and docile behavior, species of Heterometrus are popular pet scorpions. Unlike many other scorpions, they can be kept in pairs or small groups.


  1. ^ a b Karsch, F. (1879). "Skorpionologische Beiträge I.". Mitteilungen des Münchener Entomologischen Vereins (in German). 3: 6–22.
  2. ^ Herbst, J.F.W. (1800). Natursystem der ungeflügelten Insekten (in German). Viertes Heft. G. A. Lange. pp. 1–86.
  3. ^ a b c d e Kovařík, F. (2004). "A review of the genus Heterometrus Ehrenberg, 1828, with descriptions of seven new species (Scorpiones, Scorpionidae)" (PDF). Euscorpius. 15: 1–60.
  4. ^ Lourenço, W.O., Qi, J.-X., & Zhu, M.-S. (2005). "Description of two new species of scorpion from China (Tibet) belonging to the genera Mesobuthus Vachon (Buthidae) and Heterometrus Ehrenberg (Scorpionidae)" (PDF). Zootaxa. 985: 1–16. doi:10.11646/zootaxza.985.1.1.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Hemprich, F.G.; C.G. Ehrenberg (1828). "Zoologica II. Arachnoidea. Plate I: Buthus; plate II: Androctonus.". Symbolae physicae seu icones et descriptiones animalium evertebratorum sepositis insectis quae ex itinere per Africam borealem et Asiam occidentalem (in Latin). Berlin: Officina Academica, Decas Prima. pp. Plates IX–X.
  6. ^ Couzijn, H.W.C. (1978). "The method of polythetic analysis applied to a source of taxonomic difficulty: The genus Heterometrus H. & E., 1828 (Scorpionidae)". Symposium Zoological Society London. 42: 327–333.
  7. ^ a b c d Couzijn, H.W.C. (1981). "Revision of the genus Heterometrus Hemprich & Ehrenberg (Scorpionidae, Arachnoidea)" (PDF). Zoologische Verhandelingen. 184: 1–196.
  8. ^ Rein, J.O. (2010). "Scorpionidae Latreille, 1802". The Scorpion Files. Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige Universitet. Retrieved April 21, 2010.
  9. ^ Prendini, Lorenzo; Loria, Stephanie F. (October 2020). "Systematic Revision of the Asian Forest Scorpions (Heterometrinae Simon, 1879), Revised Suprageneric Classification of Scorpionidae Latreille, 1802, and Revalidation of Rugodentidae Bastawade et al., 2005". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. pp. 1–480. doi:10.1206/0003-0090.442.1.1. Retrieved 2021-08-22.
  10. ^ Charles University; Kovařík, František; Lowe, Graeme; Monell Chemical Senses Center; Ranawana, Kithsiri B.; University of Peradeniya; Hoferek, David; Jayarathne, V. A. Sanjeewa; University of Peradeniya (2016). "Scorpions of Sri Lanka (Scorpiones: Buthidae, Chaerilidae, Scorpionidae) with description of four new species of the genera Charmus Karsch, 1879 and Reddyanus Vachon, 1972, stat. n". Euscorpius. pp. 1–133. doi:10.18590/euscorpius.2016.vol2016.iss220.1. Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  11. ^ Uawonggul, N., Chaveerach, A., Thammasirirak, S., Arkaravichien, T., Chuachan, C., & Daduang, S. (2006). "Screening of plants acting against Heterometrus laoticus scorpion venom activity on fibroblast cell lysis" (PDF). Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 103 (2): 201–207. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2005.08.003. PMID 16169172. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-22.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Uawonggul, N., Thammasirirak, S., Chaveerach, A., Arkaravichien, T., Bunyatratchata, W., Ruangjirachuporn, W., Jearranaiprepame, P., Nakamura, T., Matsuda, M., Kobayashi, M., Hattori, S., & Daduang, S. (2007). "Purification and characterization of Heteroscorpine-1 (HS-1) toxin from Heterometrus laoticus scorpion venom". Toxicon. 49 (1): 19–29. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2006.09.003. PMID 17056081.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External links[edit]

  • Keeping instructions for H. spinifer and H. laoticus. Exotic Pets
  • Images and descriptions of various species of Heterometrus. Mes Scorpions