We at IFLScience do love a good escaped animal story. From Inky the stealthy octopus escaping from his New Zealand confinement to the two tweeting Toronto capybaras, the standard has been set extremely high over the last few months.
It now looks like a scorpion might have them both beat, however. As reported by BBC News, a train service from London to Edinburgh was stopped by the authorities after a scorpion from Guatemala emerged out of a passenger’s bag and began scuttling around the train.
That’s right – this particular critter didn’t merely escape a zoo or a forest, but it crossed the entire Atlantic Ocean. That’s some top notch escaping right there.
After the alarm was raised in the mid-afternoon of New Year’s Day, transport police boarded the train and were stunned to discover that this particular predatory arachnid was apparently hiding within a woman’s bag. She had recently traveled to the Central American nation in question, and at some point this potentially dangerous beast managed to slip in and go on an extended vacation.
“We weren’t quite clear why she had [it],” Harry Horton, a passenger in the same carriage, told the Guardian. “The police basically said to her: you’re either getting off here with your scorpion or we’re taking your scorpion from you.
“In the end she decided to give up the scorpion and give it to the police.” It was removed from the train after an empty ice cream tub or box was used to trap it. Some say that it was actually lured into a dry food container, as scorpions dislike ice cream.
In any case, the delay on the London to Edinburgh service lasted for just eight minutes, rather impressive by British rail standards.
It’s still not certain whether the woman meant to steal the scorpion away, or (more likely) whether the scorpion just fancied a mysterious, pioneering journey. Either way, the story didn’t end there, oh no.
Shortly after it was taken into care by Exotic Pet Refuge, the scorpion gave birth to at least three babies. It has been speculated that the scorpion may have found her way into the bag in order to give birth in a dark, cool place away from threats.
It’s since been identified as a Guatemalan bark scorpion. It’s no bigger than a standard glasses case as an adult, and although it can’t kill a human, its sting is like having three wasps perforate your skin at the same time.
We suppose now it’ll spend the rest of its life behind “bars”, unless it eventually breaks free of Exotic Pet Refuge too for the inevitable big-budget sequel.