Pseudoscorpionida Click to enlarge image
Pseudoscorpions or 'false scorpion' (Order Pseudoscorpionida) Image: Andrew Howells
© Australian Museum

Pseudoscorpions or 'false scorpions' belong to the Order Pseudoscorpionida.

What do pseudoscorpions look like?


  • Less than 10 mm in length.


  • No constriction between the cephalothorax (front portion containing head) and the abdomen.
  • Abdomen is segmented, cigar- to tear-drop shaped, flattened and appears hard.


  • Absent.


  • Two or four eyes along front margins of cephalothorax, but some species may have no eyes at all.


  • For mashing and chopping up prey and slurping liquids.


  • Absent.


  • Eight legs.
  • Pedipalps (appendages between first legs and mouthparts) are large with pincers (chela) at their ends.

Abdomen tip:

  • Absent.

Where are pseudoscorpions found?

  • On land in many habitats including deserts.
  • In leaf litter, under bark and rocks.

What do pseudoscorpions do?

  • Pseudoscorpions are usually solitary but some live in groups.
  • When disturbed they run under cover.
  • They have venom that is delivered via glands in their pincers. The venom is used to paralyse prey and is not harmful to humans.
  • All pseudoscorpions are predators feeding on other invertebrates. They use their pincers to clasp prey, inject venom and then liquefy victims with digestive juices.
  • They move with their pincers outstretched in front.
  • Most spin silk that is generally used for home building and protecting pseudoscorpions that are moulting or breeding.
  • Some species move from one region to the next by clinging to larger animals (mostly insects).
  • They are active at night. If active during the day it is generally in dark places.

What looks similar?

  • Scorpions are easily distinguished from pseudoscorpions as they have long tails with stingers and are usually larger than 10 mm.