Baltimore pet store

There is a local Baltimore pet store that specializes in reptiles and amphibians. The coolest thing they have is the Whipscorpion. Whipscorpion, is a member of any of a group of arachnids characterized by a whip-like tail and the ability to spray acetic acid at attackers. They are also called vinegaroons, because of their vinegar-like defensive spray. The acid is mostly acetic, which has a vinegar smell, can also burn human skin and eyes, although the amount ejected by the whipscorpion is not dangerous. Whipscorpions live under leaf litter or rocks and hunt small arthropods and other invertebrates. They range throughout tropical and subtropical Asia and the Americas. There are about 100 species.

The front section of the body, or cephalothorax, of the whipscorpion is covered by a carapace, or shell-like case. The whipscorpion has one pair of eyes toward the front of the cephalothorax and three or four pairs to the side. Its large chelicerae, or jaws, resemble the claws of a crab and are composed of several hinged segments. The chelicerae grasp and shred small prey and then transfer it to the pedipalps, or leg-like mouthparts. The foremost pair of walking legs is longer and more slender than the other three, and these legs are used like antennae to detect prey and to explore the environment ahead.

The whiplike telson, or tail, is sensitive to light, which the whipscorpion avoids. At the base of its telson, the whipscorpion has two glands that are capable of spraying acid at predators. In captivity, whipscorpions are docile and rarely squirt acid. The giant whipscorpion, common in Florida and the southwestern United States, is sometimes sold in pet stores like the one I mentioned in Baltimore. It is the largest species in the order and may grow to about 8 cm (3.15 in) in body length.

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