Eight-year-old Mary Henderson from Dalkeith, Midlothian, was shocked to discover a scorpion in her bedroom a month after she and her family returned from a break in the British Virgin Islands.
It is believed the stowaway – named Stavros – may have hidden in a shell Mary had picked up from a beach.
Mum Alice, 40, said: “Mary came down in the morning when she was getting ready for school and said she had found a scorpion in her bedroom. We just thought she was a bit over-excited and had found a woodlouse or something like that, but when we went to her bedroom and checked we saw it just lying there on the floor.
“I scooped it up into a container and it was only afterwards we thought, ‘that might have been poisonous’.
“If you pick it up in its container it will move its legs, it’s light brown and only about two to three centimetres long – just tiny. Hopefully there aren’t any brothers or sisters hanging around.”
Once the scorpion had been safely secured, Alice, Mary, dad Gordon and children James, four, and Ruth, three, were able to relax.
“At first Mary was quite calm because she thought it was dead,” said Alice. “But then when we moved him in to a warmer part of the house he got a bit more lively and Mary was a bit more wary.”
The exact species Stavros belongs to has not yet been identified, but it is thought he could be a heteronebo yntemai or a Puerto Rican Dwarf Scorpion.
Scorpions have very low metabolic rates and are known to be able to survive for an entire year having eaten just one insect.
Having completed his travels, Stavros is now making himself at home at Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World.
General manager, Andrew McDonald, said: “He’s a fairly shy fellow and prefers to be left on his own in his own tank, but he’s settling in nicely”
A sting in the tale of stavros
Discover Amazonia, an “indoor tropical rainforest” in Strathclyde Country Park, said Stavros looked like a Puerto Rican Dwarf Scorpion, also known as heteronebo portoricensis.
But the species is thought to be unique to Puerto Rico and the Hendersons believe he could in fact be a heteronebo yntemai, which is found in the US and British Virgin Islands.
Like all scorpions, this species is venomous, but would not pose any danger to humans.