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Hottentotta tamulus, Indian red scorpion

formerly = Mesobuthus tamulus


In earlier taxonomic descriptions this species was also listed as Mesobuthus tamulus, Buthus tamulus or Buthotus tamulus.


Arachnida; Scorpiones; Buthidae

Common names

Indian red scorpion




Slender pincers. Body length 6.5–9 cm, rarely longer. Colouring variable, yellow, green, red-brown, brown or black. H. tamulus is one of the most common scorpions in India. It lives under stones and does not usually enter habitations. It is also frequently found in urban areas and in Madras is the cause of many accidents.

Hottentotta hottentotta and Hottentotta caboverdensis are able to reproduce parthenogenetically (Lourenco &Ythier 2007).



The genus Hottentotta consists of around 30 species. H. tamulus is the only member for which accidents and fatalities are regularly described, but Hottentotta alticola and Hottentotta hottentotta are also considered potentially dangerous (Rein 2009).

Accidents due to H. tamulus are most common in southern and western India. Details regarding the taxonomic identification of the scorpion that caused the sting are absent in most reports, but due to its well-known dangerousness and prevalence, H. tamulus is blamed for the severe and fatal cases. In older reports a mortality rate of around 30% was given for the state of Bombay (Mundle 1961). In a hospital in Raigad, Maharashta, 10–12 cases were recorded each month (Bawaskar 1982). Between 1984 and 1992, 526 patients with scorpion stings were treated there; 28 of them died (5%) (Bawaskar and Bawaskar 1992a). In a study during the years 1971 and 1972, 301 children showing symptoms following a scorpion sting were admitted to a children's hospital in Madras. Over half of them were under 4 years old. 7 of the 301 children died (Santhanakrishnan and Balagopal 1974).

A study of 74 patients from Allahabad, India, documents a mortality rate following scorpion stings of almost 10% (Singhal et al. 2009). Unfortunately this study also fails to give details regarding morphological identification of the scorpions, but Mesobuthus tamulus (= Hottentotta tamulus) and Palamneus swammerdami were held to be responsible for the serious cases. A dramatic increase in the incidence of stings was observed during the hot summer months. Over 60% of those stung were male, and almost 95% of the patients came from rural areas, where it is common for people to work in sugar cane, coconut or banana plantations. These are the habitats of these scorpions.

Literature (biological)

Fet et al. 2000, Keegan 1980, Sissom 1990

The Scorpion Files

The Scorpion Fauna