It might not be the first animal that skitters to mind when you think of parental devotion, but the scorpion is actually noted for its maternal instincts. And now that we've got you thinking about these pincered parents, some scorpion baby basics are in order (arachnophobes, you might want to sit this one out.)

To start you off, here's how scorpion babies move through the first stages of life:

Image: Scorpion Hunter/YouTube

We know, you needed that.   

We tend to think of all arachnids as egg-layers (and we can probably thank our everyday encounters with spiders for that), but scorpions actually give birth to live young. They can deliver up to a hundred babies at a time, though batches of 20 to 30 are more common. 

When they're born, baby scorpions (known as scorplings!) have a very soft exoskeleton, which makes them particularly vulnerable to predators. As they grow, the babies will moult, swapping their birthday suits for thicker, tougher exoskeletons. This process continues throughout a scorpion's life as it outgrows the protective armour.

To stay safe, the scorplings will crawl, one by one, onto their mother's back, where they will stay for about two weeks.

Unlike the young of many venomous species, the babies are born without the ability to sting. Some scientists suspect this helps to keep things peaceful atop the crowded maternal perch.

But it's not all fun and games for the newborns-in-transit. When food is scarce, the abundant cargo begins to look less like precious progeny and more like a convenient buffet – and many a hungry momma has reached for a scorpling snack. It might sound harsh, but in the natural world, a free source of energy is tough to turn down! And, hey, who can really blame her when she spends 80 percent of her life pregnant!

Should you encounter a gravid female in the wild, the best thing to do is to leave her be. Stinging is not an appealing option for these animals since replacing their venom takes a lot of energy, and they'll almost always flee from danger before attacking. Still, studies have shown that in some species, pregnant or baby-carting females become more aggressive since their extra cargo makes for a slower escape. 


Top header image: Joshua Tree National Park/Flickr