Milk That Scorpion!
Critter File
Posted: November 01, 2022
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    A worker extracts venom from a scorpion. (Reuters/Stringer)
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    Lab workers manage the scorpion farm. (Reuters)
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    The scorpions are kept in plastic boxes. (Reuters)
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    A lab employee handles a scorpion with tongs. (Reuters)
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    The “milk” is used to make medicine and makeup. (Reuters)
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Welcome to Turkey’s scorpion breeding lab.

Does that sentence give you the shivers?

Transparent plastic boxes line the walls. Thousands of scorpions scramble around inside them, waiting to be milked.

Scratching your head yet? Only mammals make milk. Scorpions are arachnids. No, you won’t be getting a milkshake from these crawlies. When people in Turkey’s southeastern Sanliurfa province “milk” the animals, they’re extracting venom.

Why in the world would they do such a thing?

The venom can be used to make medicine.

Using a pair of tweezers and tongs, lab employees remove the scorpions from the boxes. They squeeze a tiny drop of venom from their needles into a container. Then they freeze it. The venom gets turned into powder, and then sold.

A single scorpion produces about two milligrams of venom. A milligram is itty-bitty . . . about the same size as part of a raindrop.

Metin Orenler owns the scorpion farm. His farm opened in 2020. Now it has around 20,000 scorpions! These belong to the Androctonus Turkiyensis species. The species is newly identified. It’s also dangerous. A sting from Turkiyensis can easily kill.

“We both breed the scorpions themselves and also milk them,” Mr. Orenler says.

Once powdered, the venom is sent to France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Switzerland. What next? People will use it to make painkillers, antibiotics, and makeup.

And the bitty droplets add up to big bucks. One liter of the venom (about four cups) sells for $10 million!

Why? Venom can be dangerous. But it’s also what God uses to protect animals. It can even be made into medicine for people.