British Columbia

'OK, it's alive': Vancouver woman finds scorpion on kitchen floor

At first, Gail Hammond thought it was a fridge magnet. Then it scuttled under her fridge.

At first, Gail Hammond thought it was a fridge magnet. Then it scuttled under her fridge

Imagine this at your feet. Veterinarian Adrian Walton says the scorpion found in a Vancouver home is about five to seven centimetres long. (Adrian Walton)

Gail Hammond was standing in her kitchen washing dishes last Thursday when she noticed something near her feet.

It looked like a scorpion, but the Vancouver woman figured it was a fallen fridge magnet. After all, she's a huge fan of the German rock band Scorpions and has a variety of band memorabilia around the house. 

Then it scuttled under the fridge.

"OK, it's alive," she said to herself. 

With her daughter's help, she managed to move the fridge and trap the scorpion under a plastic bin. She punched air holes in the bin and left it with some water.

Unsure of how to welcome this new house guest, she began doing some research. She called an exterminator, who told her to spray it with poison or offered to dispose of it for $100. 

Instead, she kept the scorpion in the container for a few days while she figured out what to do. 

"They can live without food but not water. We did put a few bugs in there," Hammond said. "We'd kind of taken a shine to him."

Gail Hammond says her friends and family laughed when they learned she found a scorpion in her kitchen because she is a long-time fan of the German rock band of the same name. (Gail Hammond)

The SPCA suggested a veterinarian get involved. So on Monday, she drove the scorpion out to a vet in Maple Ridge with expertise in exotic pets.

'Hero' for not squishing scorpion

At Dewdney Animal Hospital, Dr. Adrian Walton determined that the scorpion, which measured about five to seven centimetres long, was a female. It's also pregnant — within three or four months its babies should appear, looking like tiny white bugs on its back.

Walton believes it's a striped scorpion normally found in California and Arizona, but is working on figuring out exactly what species it is. 

The scorpion fluoresces under black light. Veterinarian Adrian Walton says he is getting help from the Victoria Bug Zoo and a local expert to try to determine exactly what kind of scorpion it is. (Adrian Walton)

Hammond has no idea how the scorpion ended up in her kitchen. She bought groceries at Costco and left the bags on the floor two days before the scorpion appeared. She'd also returned from a trip to Cuba on April 17.

If it did come from Cuba, Hammond says that explains why she's seen no spiders for the past few weeks. 

Walton said the arachnid could have simply hitched a ride in some produce or California-grown house plants. That's how Walton says the last few scorpions he's heard of were discovered.

He said he's thrilled the scorpion survived both the journey and the person who found it. In most cases, if he receives a scorpion, it's already dead. 

"[Hammond] is actually the hero here," he said.

"People usually squish these things and then afterwards call me up and ask, 'What is this? Is this thing dangerous?' Most of the time it's like, 'No, but thanks for killing it,'" he said.

Walton was considering keeping the scorpion. He said the clinic's long-time mascot scorpion recently died; the arachnids can live up to 10 years.

But a biologist with the Victoria Bug Zoo has identified the scorpion as one of two quite venomous species, one being a Central American bark scorpion. That means the zoo may be the scorpion's new home, as staff there are trained to deal with venomous animals. 

For Hammond, she's hoping the next scorpions to arrive in Vancouver might be her beloved band.  

Gail Hammond kept the scorpion in a plastic bin at homes for a few days while she figured out what to do with it. (Gail Hammond)

About the Author

Yvette Brend is a CBC Vancouver journalist. Yvette.Brend@CBC.ca @ybrend

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