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Damon diadema

  • Live collection
For a few weeks the young will hold on tight to their mothers’ backs for protection.
Photo: Espace pour la vie (René Limoges)

Groupe tab

Description

Description of adults

These arachnids are from 4 to 28 mm long and resemble spiders. They are dull brown, with a flat body. Although they have four pairs of legs, they use only the three hind pairs for moving around. The very long and slender front pair of legs should not be confused with the pair of highly developed, spiny, pincer-like pedipalps. The front pair of legs is antennae-like and serves as feelers. A whipscorpion uses its pedipalps to seize its prey.

Theme

We live everywhere

Sub-theme

Tropical forests

Section

Shady characters

Country of origin

Tanzania, United Republic of
French name
Amblypyge
Scientific name
Damon diadema
English name
Tailless whip scorpion
Class
Arachnida
Order
Amblypygi
Family
Phrynichidae
Living environment

Diet

Whipscorpions are carnivorous, eating insects (cockroaches, locusts and termites). As with many arachnids, a good meal is usually followed by several days of fasting.

Habitat

They live in caves, under rocks, in fallen logs and in rock crevices.

Geographic distribution

They are found in very moist tropical-equatorial regions and are present in Central Africa, Kenya and Tanzania.

Ecological role

Like all predators, they help to maintain a balance in their natural habitat.

Special behaviour

They avoid light by staying hidden in daytime and hunting at night. When exposed in the open, they do not try to escape, but become immobile and flatten themselves to the ground.

When they find a hiding spot, they keep it for a few days or weeks before looking for another one. Whipscorpions are unusual in that they prefer vertical to horizontal surfaces, unlike most other arachnids.

Their primary means of defence is to scurry away with surprising speed. And to further confuse predators, they tend to scatter in all directions.

If two similar-sized males meet, they engage in combat. After a ritual salute, they push each other with their pair of pedipalps, holding them open. The loser withdraws as a sign of submission.

Interesting facts

Status

Whipscorpions are fairly common and have no special status.

Interesting facts and curiosities

This species is among the largest whipscorpions. They are not venomous and do not bite and are therefore not dangerous to humans. They use their pair of pedipalps to seize their prey.

Whipscorpions are also capable of regeneration: if they lose a leg, they grow another one after the next moult.

The first pair of legs, transformed into sensory organs, allows a whipscorpion to explore its surroundings in the dark. But when fleeing or hiding, it folds them back alongside its body.

These are the only arachnids to move sideways, like crabs.

At the Insectarium

There is a red light in the whipscorpion vivarium to make it easier for visitors to watch them. Unlike humans, these arachnids do not perceive infrared rays.

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