acta ethologica

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 99–104 | Cite as

Role of venom quantity in the feeding behavior of Jaguajir rochae (Scorpiones: Buthidae)

  • Meykson A. SilvaEmail author
  • Nathalia A. Silva
  • André F. A. Lira
  • René D. Martins
Original Paper


Animal venom is composed of a complex mixture of protein-rich chemicals. Synthesis of animal venom incurs a high metabolic cost and is a prolonged process; consequently, animals use their venom cautiously and economically. Some studies have shown that venomous animals modulate the amount and/or type of venom used depending on certain factors, such as prey size or the intensity of predation threat. Here, we investigated how the quantity of venom that is available for use by the scorpion Jaguajir rochae interferes with its choice of prey. We used two types of prey of contrasting size (small 200–300-mg and large 600–700-mg cockroaches). The results showed that the amount of venom influences the feeding behavior of this species. Most scorpions without venom exhibited a low interest when large prey was present, but frequently attacked small prey. The scorpions also showed a distinct pattern in the time between venom extraction and the initiation of hunting behavior. In conclusion, J. rochae is able to perceive differences between small and large prey and make decisions regarding venom usage, supporting the “venom optimization hypothesis” (or “venom metering hypothesis”), by minimizing the venom use due to it being an energetically expensive resource.


Behavioral plasticity Venom optimization hypothesis Predatory behavior Caatinga Semi-arid 



We thank the Fundação de Amparo a Ciências e Tecnologia de Pernambuco (FACEPE) for granting a scholarship to M.A. Silva. We also thank Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) for granting a Ph.D. scholarship to A.F.A. Lira.

Compliance with ethical standards

Experiments using invertebrate animals conducted in Brazil do not require approval by Ethics Committees, as established by the Brazilian Council for the Control of Animal Experimentation (CONCEA) (Law 11.794/08, § 3).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© ISPA, CRL 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciência Animal Tropical, Departamento de Morfologia e Fisiologia AnimalUniversidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco – UFRPERecifeBrazil
  2. 2.Centro Acadêmico de VitóriaUniversidade Federal de Pernambuco – UFPEVitória de Santo AntãoBrazil
  3. 3.Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da SaúdeUniversidade Católica de Pernambuco – UNICAPRecifeBrazil
  4. 4.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biologia Animal, Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade Federal de Pernambuco – UFPERecifeBrazil

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