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Tuesday, 12 March, 2002, 21:01 GMT
Greengrocer escapes deadly scorpion
Richard James and father Peter
Richard and Peter James (right) trapped the creature
A greengrocer from Hampshire says he is lucky to be alive after a deadly scorpion scuttled from a box of bananas in his shop.

The creature has venom capable of paralysing the heart and respiratory system in 60 seconds.

Peter James found the scorpion as he was unpacking fruit with his son Richard.

Mr James, 29, from Netley Abbey in Southampton, managed to head off the scorpion as it scampered down the pavement, and captured it in a sweet jar.

Richard James said: "It came towards his hand... we had a choice between stamping on it or putting it in a clear sweet jar.

The bathid scorpion is aggressive in March

"When the RSPCA told us what it was we were relieved we didn't touch it."

RSPCA spokeswoman Lucy Clark said the sandy and black-coloured scorpion was believed to be a member of the bathid family, a nocturnal type of scorpion.

It requires a dangerous wild animals licence to be kept in the UK and lives in the wild in Africa, south-east Asia and Spain.

She explained its preferred habitat was arid areas and it generally lived under rocks.

Mating time

Ms Clark said: "The people were very lucky they did not touch it.

"This type of scorpion is at its most aggressive at this time of year because it is the breeding season."

She added that the bananas had been packed in a cardboard box which originally contained peppers imported from Spain.

The scorpion is currently being looked after by an RSPCA officer while a permanent home is found.

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