An Irish woman discovered she had brought home an unwanted souvenir this week when she found a scorpion in her luggage 12 days after returning from a horse-riding trip to Kenya.
The fat-tailed scorpion, common across Africa and the Middle East, was nestled in a women’s bag, having made the 4,000-mile trip to the woman’s home in Wicklow, on the Ireland’s east coast.
The woman, Lorraine Dempsey, contacted the National Reptile Zoo in Kilkenny, Ireland, which took custody of the adventurous arachnid, which she named Kenny.
The creature went missing after it was first discovered, only to be eventually found 90 minutes later under a bed and placed in a box that Dempsey labelled “Scorpion – Do not open!”
“I had a five-second encounter with Kenny this morning before he disappeared under the bed and my brain exploded trying to process what I had just discovered,” Dempsey wrote on Facebook on Sunday.
James Hennessy, the zoo’s director, told NBC News that hitchhiking small animals are a common problem.
“It’s not as rare as you’d think. We do get a few cases every few weeks where something has gone into someone’s luggage or something,” he said.
“We get quite a few spiders, geckos and so on. They end up in clothing. If you stay somewhere for two weeks they can find their way into a bag.”
Hennessy said the scorpion’s sting was not “medically significant” but could cause some irritation and possible difficulties for people with breathing problems, but it could have been a lot worse.
Dempsey had initially thought it was a deathstalker scorpion, one of the most dangerous breeds, which is also found in Kenya.
“Bye bye Kenny the Kenyan Death Stalker. Kind of sad to see the back of him,” she wrote on Facebook on Sunday. She said she hoped the zoo keeps the creature so she can go back to visit.
The zoo said the runaway fat-tailed scorpion is “now safe and sound (and very secure!) in our venomous unit.”