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Hottentotta jayakari jayakari (2).JPG
Hottentotta jayakari jayakari
Scientific classification

Birula, 1908
Type species
Scorpio hottentotta
Fabricius, 1787
About 39 species
  • Buthotus Vachon, 1949
  • Hottentotta (Balfourianus) Vachon, 1979
  • Hottentotta (Deccanobuthus) Lourenço, 2000

Hottentotta is a genus of scorpions belonging to the family Buthidae. It is distributed widely across Africa. Species also occur in the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, southeastern Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Cape Verde Islands, Slovenia (rarely),[citation needed] and Sri Lanka (introduced).


The genus was introduced in 1908 by A. A. Birula, originally as a subgenus of the genus Buthus.[2] It was elevated to genus rank by F. Werner in 1934.[3] Buthotus Vachon, 1949 is an often used but outdated synonym of Hottentotta.[1]

Some authors subdivided the genus into three subgenera, Hottentotta (Hottentotta), Hottentotta (Balfourianus) Vachon, 1979,[4] and Hottentotta (Deccanobuthus) Lourenço, 2000.[5] The latest taxonomic reviews of this genus by F. Kovařík[1][6] reject this subdivision and recognizes a single, undivided genus Hottentotta. The differences separating the closely related genus Mesobuthus from Hottentotta are very subtle and species have been often been misassigned among the two genera.[1][7]


The content of this genus may vary, depending on the authority. At least 40-41 species are known:[1][6][7][8][9][10]

Disputed species[edit]

  • Hottentotta syrticus (Borelli, 1914) and Buthotus (=Hottentotta) asimii Amir, Kamaluddin & Khan, 2004 are considered nomina dubia.[1][12]

General characteristics[edit]

Members of Hottentotta are generally moderately sized scorpions, with a total length of 70–90 millimetres (2.8–3.5 in); the smallest species are 30 millimetres (1.2 in) long, while the largest species reach 100–130 millimetres (3.9–5.1 in). They belong to the most colorful species of scorpions. The base color ranges from bright yellow to black, with most species colored in brown or reddish tones. Many species are ornamented by color spots or bands especially on the mesosoma. Coloration may be considerable variable between individuals of the same species or among regional populations.[1]

They show a typical buthid habitus with gracile pedipalp chelae and a moderately thickened metasoma. The vesicle is bulbous and proportionally large in some species. The cephalothorax and mesosoma shows distinct granulation in most species, some are strongly hirsute. The tergites of the mesosoma bear three distinct, longitudinal carinae (ridges).[1]


As in other buthids the venom in at least some species of Hottentotta is relatively potent and can be of medical importance to humans.

H. tamulus, the Indian red scorpion, has evidently caused human fatalities by cardiovascular and pulmonary manifestations of intoxication[13][14][15] and is considered the most lethal scorpion species in the world.[16]

Kleber et al. (1999)[17] listed envenomation by at least four other species as to cause clinically significant symptoms.

Relative toxicity and symptoms caused by envenomation from Hottentotta species
Species Median lethal dose
(LD50 [mg/kg]mice)[18]
Symptoms[14][15][17][19] Species distribution[1][20]
H. alticola not available Severe pain, questionably cholinergic symptoms Afghanistan, Pakistan
H. franzwerneri not available Severe pain, reportedly affection of the cardiovascular and central nervous systems, questionably cholinergic symptoms Algeria, Morocco
H. judaicus 7.94 Severe pain, reportedly affection of the cardiovascular and central nervous systems, questionably cholinergic symptoms Israel, Lebanon, Syria, southeastern Turkey
H. minax not available Severe pain, questionably cholinergic symptoms Cameroon, Chad, southern Libya, southern Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, questionably Tanzania and Uganda
H. saulcyi 1.01 not available Eastern Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, questionably Syria
H. tamulus not available Severe pain, cardiovascular symptoms (including acute myocarditis, cardiac dysrhythmia, ischemia-like changes and conduction blockade), pulmonary oedema Pakistan, India, and southeastern Nepal

This listing is not comprehensive due to lack of data and all species of Hottentotta are potentially highly venomous to humans. Note that the LD50 value might differ considerably between populations of the same species.


Most species live in semi-arid to humid, steppe, savannah and forested environments. Hyperarid deserts are avoided. Some reach considerable topographic altitudes as e.g. in the Atlas Mountains, the Zagros Mountains or at the Hindukush.

In captivity[edit]

Due to their relatively colorful appearance Hottentotta species are often kept and bred in captivity. Popular species are H. hottentotta and H. trilineatus. As with other highly venomous buthids keeping these species in captivity is only recommendable to experienced people.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kovařík, F. (2007). "A revision of the genus Hottentotta Birula, 1908, with descriptions of four new species" (PDF). Euscorpius. 58: 1–105.
  2. ^ Birula, A. A. (1908). "Ergebnisse der mit Subvention aus der Erbschaft Treitl unternommenen zoologischen Forschungsreise Dr. F. Werner's nach dem Anglo-Aegyptischen Sudan und Nord-Uganda. XIV. Skorpiones und Solifugae". Sitzungsberichte der kaiserlich-königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien (in German). 117 (1): 121–152.
  3. ^ Werner, F. (1934). "Scorpiones. Pedipalpi". In Bronn, H. G. (ed.). Klassen und Ordnungen des Tierreichs. 8. Leipzig. pp. 1–490.
  4. ^ Vachon, M. (1979). "Notes on the types of scorpions in the British Museum (Natural History), London. Buthus socotrensis Pocock, 1889 (Family Buthidae)". Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Zoology Series. 36 (4): 233–237.
  5. ^ Lourenço, W. R. (2000). "The genus Hottentotta Birula, 1908, with the description of a new subgenus and species from India (Scorpiones, Buthidae)". Entomologische Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum Hamburg. 13 (162): 191–195.
  6. ^ a b Kovařík, F. (2013). "Family Buthidae". In Kovařík, F.; Ojanguren Affilastro, A. (eds.). Illustrated catalogue of scorpions. Part II: Bothriuridae; Chaerilidae; Buthidae I: genera Compsobuthus, Hottentotta, Isometrus, Lychas and Sassanidotus. Prague. pp. 141–212.
  7. ^ a b Teruel, R.; J. O. Rein (2010). "A new Hottentotta Birula, 1908 from Afghanistan with a note on the generic position of Mesobuthus songi Lourenço, Qi and Zhu, 2005 (Scorpiones: Buthidae)" (PDF). Euscorpius. 94: 1–8.
  8. ^ Rein, J. O. (2010). "Buthidae C. L. Koch, 1837". The Scorpion Files. Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige Universitet. Retrieved April 7, 2010.
  9. ^ Lowe, G. (2010). "Two new species of Hottentotta Birula, 1908 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from northern Oman" (PDF). Euscorpius. 103: 1–23.
  10. ^ Turiel, C. (2014). "A new species of Hottentotta Birula, 1908 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from southern Morocco" (PDF). Euscorpius. 181: 1–9.
  11. ^ a b Sousa, P., Froufe, E., Harris, D.J., Alves, P.C. & Meijden, A., van der. (2011). "Genetic diversity of Maghrebian Hottentotta (Scorpiones: Buthidae) scorpions based on CO1: new insights on the genus phylogeny and distribution". African Invertebrates. 52 (1). Archived from the original on 2011-10-04.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Rein, J. O. (2010). "Taxonomical updates in The Scorpion Files for Buthidae (2008-)" (PDF). The Scorpion Files. Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige Universitet. Retrieved April 7, 2010.
  13. ^ Santhanakrishnan, B. R.; V. Balagopal Raju (1974). "Management of scorpion sting in children". Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 77 (6): 133–135.
  14. ^ a b Bawaskar, H. S.; P. H. Bawaskar (1992). "Management of the cardiovascular manifestations of poisoning by the Indian red scorpion (Mesobuthus tamulus)". British Heart Journal. 68 (11): 468–480. doi:10.1136/hrt.68.11.478. PMC 1025191. PMID 1467032.
  15. ^ a b Bawaskar, H.S.; P.H. Bawaskar (2008). "Scorpion sting: A study of clinical manifestations and treatment regimes" (PDF). Current Science. 95 (9): 1337–1341. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  16. ^ Ismail, M.; Bawaskar, P. H. (1995). "The scorpion envenoming syndrome". Toxicon. 33 (7): 825–858. doi:10.1007/BF02761131. PMID 8588209.
  17. ^ a b Kleber, J. J.; P. Wagner; N. Felgenhauer; M. Kunze & T. Zilker (1999). "Vergiftung durch Skorpionsstiche" (PDF). Deutsches Ärzteblatt (in German). 96 (25): A1710–A1715. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-01-12.
  18. ^ Chua Kian-Wee (1997–2000). "Relative toxicity of scorpions". Retrieved April 7, 2010.
  19. ^ Kanoo, S.; M. B. Mandal; A. B. Alex & S. B. Deshpande (2009). "Cardiac dysrhythmia produced by Mesobuthus tamulus venom involves NO-dependent G-Cyclase signaling pathway". Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology. 379 (5): 525–532. doi:10.1007/s00210-008-0375-7.
  20. ^ Bhadani, U.K.; M. Tripathi; S. Sharma & R. Pandey (2006). "Scorpion sting envenomation presenting with pulmonary edema in adults: a report of seven cases from Nepal" (PDF). Indian Journal of Medical Sciences. 60 (1): 19–23. doi:10.4103/0019-5359.19672.