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the web of life in southern Africa

Scorpion key

A layman's key to the South African scorpion families and common genera

To identify a scorpion, work through couplets 1 to 4 until the described characters apply to the scorpion to be identified.


  • Tail very thick, thicker than chela. Chela slender and round in cross section....... Buthidae
  • Tail thinner than chela. Chela large and flattened in cross section....... Scorpionoidea (2)


  • Tail similar to legs in thickness ........Ischnuridae (3)
  • Tail thicker than legs........(4) 


  • Body extremely flattened dorsoventrally. Legs and tail flattened. Dark brown scorpions occurs in rocky habitat.......Hadogenes 
  • Body not flattened or only slightly. Blackish and occurs in moist habitats and forests……Opisthacanthus


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Text by Norman Larsen ©.