How to Care for Emperor Scorpions
Scorpion Keeping as a pet :
Why keep scorpions?
This is one question I hope all potential scorpion owner ask themselves before reading further. WHY? If it is mainly for the morbid thought of keeping something very dangerous or as a way of showing off your 'bravery', please think again. No doubt, the above may add to the thrill of having them (which I admit does play a small part in my interest) but you may well end up in hospital. What's worse, you may cause another to be hurt for no reason than your folly. I do not want to be a self-appointed judge of what's right or wrong but please give it serious thought.
So why keep scorpions? Many other reasons exists. For myself, it was the above which got me interested but it is their fascinating life history which got me hooked. I've also an unexplainable 'love' for these creatures. They are interesting to observe and very undemanding pets. They go about their own business and offers little moments of thrills at times. As you delve further into the hobby, some would feel an urge to let others understand their pets. They are also a cool subject to strike up a conversation ;-). Also, they are good research material given their peculiarity and medical importance. Much headway could be made as the present knowledge of scorpions is relatively sparse.
Decide for yourself ............
How to Take Care of a Pet Scorpion | Pet Tarantulas
Scorpions. What is truth and what is wrong.
Scorpions are among the most feared animals. Nevertheless, they are poorly known by people. In this article are presented the most generalized erroneous concepts on them, as well as some of the peculiarities that make them amazing organisms.
Were scorpions the first air-breathing animals on the terrestrial habitats?
If you rely on an old text-book or even on a contemporary source that is not up to date, you could get a wrong answer to this question because despite what such sources claim, most recent discoveries have confirmed that myriapods and some primitive arachnids colonized terrestrial habitats earlier than scorpions.
Scorpions originated during the Silurian time (about 430 millions years BP) in shallow lakes and seas, having an aquatic life. In those habitats they lived together with sea scorpions (Eurypterida), a chelicerate group that is believed has a very close relationship with scorpions. However, scorpions were preceded in the colonization of terrestrial crust by other groups of arthropods: the millipedes (class Diplopoda) and the trigonotarbid spiders (fossil arachnids of the order Trigonotarbida).
Do offspring eat their mother?
Some people believe that offspring kill their mother and eat it. Notwithstanding, it has largely been proved that newly born scorpions (sometime called larvae) are incapable of feeding because in that first instar, chelicerae, pedipalp, and telson are non functional organs. Therefore, newly born scorpions are not able to catch a prey by themselves, or to do feeding activities that involve the use of chelicerae. Scorpions, as other arthropods (v. gr.: insects, crustaceans, centipedes), moult in order to grow. As a result of this physiological activity, they leave an exuvial rest resembling a desiccated scorpion.
Exuviae of the Central American Didymocentrus krausi. Observe that it resembles an "empty" scorpion.
On the other hand, when a pregnant female scorpion gives birth, her babies immediately climb on their mother's back, sometimes helped by her.
After being born, the young scorpions quickly climb on the mother's back. In this photo, courtesy of Pablo Berea Nuñez, a female of the Mexican Diplocentrus melici.
Perhaps, due to separate observations made by the same person of both phenomena (exuviae and offspring on the mother back), it is thought that the exuviae was what the baby scorpions left after having "sucked" their mother. On the contrary, it has been experimentally demonstrated that female scorpions can give birth several times in a year.
Some days after their first moult, little scorpions abandon their mother and initiate an independent life. In this photo, courtesy of Eliézer Martin-Frías, a female of the Mexican Centruroides exilicauda with her second instar babies that just came down her back.
Do scorpions kill themselves when surrounded by fire?
It is a common belief that scorpions commit suicide when they are surrounded by fire, probably due to its dramatic behavior in such extreme situation. During this despicable practice, the scorpion senses that it is being attacked by invisible enemies and then stings all around itself giving the impression that it is self-stinging. However, the correct explanation is that the high temperatures due to the fire cause dehydration and the proteins denaturalization (not reversible over 60 ºC). As a consequence, the scorpion experiences dramatic convulsions, and finally dies.
Experiments in laboratory were carried out some decades ago by the late French arachnologist Max Vachon, and clearly demonstrated that this is the scientific explanation to this phenomenon.
Are scorpions big and very lethal animals?
Because scorpions do not exist in some countries, and are very rare in others, some people are not familiarized with them. In addition, some fantastic literature and films have contributed to create an inappropriate image of these arachnids.
It is known that fossil scorpion Praearcturus gigas reached one meter in total length, but the longest living species, the Indian Heterometrus swammerdami swammerdami, reaches less than 30 cm (almost one foot). The largest North American scorpion species is Centruroides gracilis (a male taken in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo had 145.8 mm in total length).
Other scorpion species are tiny; for example, the Mexican Typhlochactas mitchelli (male has 8.5 mm in total length, a real world record!). Some small members of the family Buthidae measure between 11 and 20 mm.
egarding lethal venom, it is present in less than 2% of the almost 1,500 known species. Curiously, the most dangerous species are not the largest ones. For example, the Mexican Centruroides noxius measures 40 to 45 mm in total length; Centruroides suffusus (Durango’s scorpion), 60–85 mm; and the BrazilianTityus serrulatus, 55–70 mm. On the other hand, the very lethal Leiurus quinquestriatus may reach more than 100 mm (about one-third foot).
Besides, a lot of scorpion species, as those of the family Scorpionidae, have innocuous venom. I have personally being stung by Mexican and Caribbean members of the subfamily Diplocentrinae (treated as family Diplocentridae by some researchers). I only felt a minor pain that compares to the one caused by a fire ant (Solenopsis geminata), and with no other consequences.
The most dangerous species and their geographical distribution are as follows (in alphabetical order):
-Androctonus australis [AFRICA (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Sudan?, Tunisia) and ASIA (Israel)]
-Androctonus crassicauda (ASIA: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen)
-Androctonus mauritanicus (Mauritania, Morocco)
-Centruroides elegans (Mexico)
-Centruroides sculpturatus (southwestern USA, northwestern Mexico?)
-Centruroides infamatus (Mexico)
-Centruroides limpidus (Mexico)
-Centruroides meisei (Mexico)
-Centruroides noxius (Mexico)
-Centruroides suffusus (Mexico)
-Leiurus quinquestriatus [AFRICA (Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia) and ASIA (Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen)]
-Tityus bahiensis (Brazil)
-Tityus serrulatus (Brazil)
Some interesting records and data
In the book Biology of scorpions appeared a citation from Wilson R. Lourenço in which he recorded the capture of an Andean scorpion Orobothriurus crassimanus at 5,500 m a.s.l., but he later amended this data as 5,550 m a.s.l.
In 1954, J. Baerg recorded a female of the Jamaican striped scorpion Centruroides insulanus that gave birth to 105 babies in a single brood. In 1995, a female of the large scorpion Centruroides margaritatus was found by me in a field of northwestern Nicaragua (Central America) having 104 larvae on her back.
Most scorpions are short-living organisms that live 3 to 5 years as an average, but some species may live almost a quarter of century. According to Gordon’s Scorpion Page, the Australian Urodacus yashenkoi could live up to 24 years.
Resistance to submersion in water
Observations in the laboratory have shown that scorpions are capable of long stays under the water. Some Central and North American species of the genusCentruroides resist three to four hours submerged in water without affecting them. The French arachnologist Max Vachon recorded a higher resistance for some African scorpions. This resistance to submersion may be interpreted as adaptation in order to escape from floods.
Resistance to inanition
Scorpions have a low metabolism (i. e., they need few energetic resources). Observations carried out at the laboratory have demonstrated that some species may survive three years without eating anything after the last feeding. This should come as no surprise since most scorpions can tolerate periods of one year without feeding.
These formidable arachnids can also survive until nine months without neither eating nor drinking anything, including water.
Resistance to radiation
Scorpions are among the most resistant animals to the dangerous effects of radiations. In this respect, they go beyond vertebrates, mollusks, spiders, and most insects. It has been experimentally proved that some species are capable of resisting doses of radiation as high as 154,000 roentgens and then survive for at least one month.
Unusual prey :
Insects, arachnids (including scorpions of the same species and others), myriapods and terrestrial isopods or wood lice are common prey of scorpions, but small vertebrates (lizards, geckoes, snakes, frogs) are not excluded of the diet.
During the difficult drought undergone by the southern territories of Africa in 1970, some scorpions of the species Opistophthalmus carinatus caught terrestrial snails and broke their shells in order to eat the mollusk inside them.
The shortest gestation period (54 days) belongs to the Cuban striped scorpion Centruroides anchorellus.
The longest gestation period (18 months) it is shared by Opisthacanthus asper, Opisthacanthus cayaporum and Urodacus yaschenkoi
Among the arachnids (true spiders, mites, ticks, vinegarroons, whip spiders, pseudoscorpions and other relatives), scorpions are the only ones having:
• Abdomen (= opisthosoma) divided into preabdomen (= mesosoma) and post abdomen (= metasoma)
• A pair of ventral abdominal comb-like appendages: the pectens or pectines
• Telson with two venom glands
• Cuticle containing coumarin, a toxic substance mainly restrict to plants
• Hemolymph containing hemocyanin for oxygen transport
A three-tailed scorpion?
Two-tailed scorpions are known since Pliny “The Elder” times, about 2000 years ago, although several cases were recorded during the last century. Nevertheless, the most anomalous case corresponds to a second instar of Centruroides gracilis that was born with three complete tails and six telsons.
A three-tailed second instar of Centruroides gracilis.
Right: A drawing.
Gordon's Scorpion Page (http://www.earthlife.net/chelicerata/scorpionidae.html)
ARMAS, L. F. DE. 1995. Breve crónica de una expedición aracnológica a Nicaragua. Cocuyo 4:2-3. (PDF available at:
ARMAS, L. F. DE. 2001. El alacrán en la cultura cubana contemporánea. Una aproximación. Revista Ibérica de Aracnología 4: 99–103 (abstract available at:
ARMAS, L. F. DE, J. CAO LÓPEZ & L. SOLÓRZANO HERNÁNDEZ. 1995. Escorpión con tres metasomas y seis télsones. Anales del Instituto de Biología de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, serie Zoología. 66(1):135–136.
BAERG, J. 1954. Regarding the biology of the common Jamaican scorpion. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 47(2): 272–276.
BROWNELL, P. & G. Polis (eds.) 2001. Scorpion biology and research. Oxford University Press. Oxford. i–xiv + 430 pp.
FET, V., W. D. Sissom, G. Lowe & M. E. Braunwalder. 2000. Catalog of the scorpions of the world (1758-1998). New York, The New York Entomological Society.
LAMORAL, B. H. 1971. Predation on terrestrial molluscs by scorpions in the Kalahari Desert. Annals of the Natal Museum 21(1): 17–20.
POLIS, G. A., ed. 1990. The biology of scorpions. Stanford University Press, California, i–xiii + 587 pp.
STAHNKE, H. L. 1966. Some aspects of scorpion behavior. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences, 65(2): 65–80.
VACHON, M. 1953. Quelques aspects de la biologie des scorpions. Endeavour 12(46) :80–89.
courtesy to : www.wikihow.com/Care-for-Emperor-Scorpions
Good Website :
Emperor Scorpion Care, Setup + Feeding
The emperor scorpion (Pandinus imperator) is a species of scorpion native to Africa. One of the largest species of scorpion in the world, the adult emperor scorpions average about 8 inches (20 cm) in length. Known for being docile and calm, and tolerant of caregiver's mistakes, emperor scorpions are very interesting animals, and can make for a great pet for a beginner branching out into arachnid pets.
1- Provide suitable housing. Keep your scorpion in a well-ventilated glass or plastic tank with a secure lid. The tank size should measure about 30cm x 20cm x 10cm (11.8" x 8.8" x 3.9cm or a 5 to 20 gallon tank). The following is essential:
Install a heat mat. Or a red or non-UV black heat lamp. Never use UV on an Emperor Scorpion as it causes stress and death.
Emperor scorpions need a day time temperature of around 29ºC/85ºF and a night time low of 23ºC/75ºF. Use a thermometer or a thermostat to measure the temperatures in the tank. You can also keep a warm and cool end if you do not want day/night time temperatures.
Cover the floor with a thick layer (at least 4" deep) of substrate such as cocoa fiber,peat, peat/vermiculite, or cork bark. The substrate should be kept moist. Moss is also helpful but don't smother the base with it as being a rainforest burrower, this scorpion needs to be able to dig holes for hiding. The more the substrate, the happier your scorpion will be to burrow in.
Provide plenty of obstacles such as bark and rocks for your scorpion to climb, burrow and hide in. Suitable shelters include cork bark, half a log, a flower pot, a clean dark container (prefer opaque glass over plastic as it won't off-gas), or ceramic items with arachnid safe or no glazes.
Humidity should be high, 60-70%, or even above 75%. The humidity level can be checked with a hygrometer.
2- Handle your scorpion with great care, if at all. It's recommended that you don't handle your scorpion, as he can sting and bite.
Whenever you need to move him, coax him into a ventilated container such as a clean plastic food container that can be closed easily once the scorpion enters it.
Ensure that it has holes poked in the lid and sides for air ventilation.
Alternatively, use your fingers to gently pick him up, just below the sting. Do NOT do this with tweezers or tongs as you may hurt your scorpion trying.
3- You can keep Emperor scorpions together, but make sure they're all provided for. Emperor scorpions are NOT social animals - they prefer to live alone rather than living in groups. Make sure there are plenty of hiding places as they may become territorial. Emperor scorpions can be housed together, but they enjoy their personal space much like we humans do. They merely tolerate each other.
Scorpions may eat one another, but keeping an adequate amount of food in their tank should prevent that from happening. Know that it's also not uncommon for several scorpions to fight over the same insect if they're kept together.
4- Feed your scorpion a healthy diet. Feed your scorpion live crickets, locusts, andmealworms. For baby scorpions, feed them pinhead crickets and other small insects.
The insects themselves should be fed beforehand with a nutrient rich mixture available from pet shops (this is known as "gut-loading").
Use tongs to feed your scorpion one insect at a time. He may eat 2 or 3 at a time, or refuse them altogether. Note that scorpions don't eat every day and sometimes fast for a week or more, so try again another time if this happens. (In fact, adult scorpions molt once or twice a year and don't eat before and after molting.)
Scorpions drink a lot of water, so make sure it is available every day. Do NOT use silica gel, or soak cotton wool in bottled water and place it in a small dish for your scorpion to drink from. This can be very harmful for your scorpion, and may even result in its death. Ensure your water dish is shallow and your scorpion can easily get in and out of it. If it's too deep, you may put small rocks inside.
Keeping live crickets in the tank will never hurt your scorpions. Your scorpions have a very strong exoskeleton that will protect them from the vast majority of predators. They can however harm your scorpion if it's molting.
5- Be sure your scorpion is getting adequate exercise. Scorpions will get any exercise they need from within their enclosure. If your scorpion appears to not be exercising, or is moving around too much, contact your local vet or the animal store from where you obtained your scorpion.
Don't be alarmed if your scorpion is hiding all day, Emperor Scorpions are nocturnal and will move around a lot at night.
6- Clean your scorpion's home regularly. Scorpions don't make much mess, but any food remains should be removed. Change the substrate and clean and disinfect the tank every 3 or 4 months using an arachnid-friendly disinfectant.
Scorpion Buying & Care : How to Buy a Pet Scorpion
7-Keep your scorpion healthy. Your scorpion should have few health problems if kept in the right conditions.
If the scorpion is overheated, he will become very active, may appear to sting himself and roll over on his back.
If he's too cold, he won't eat.
Don't keep live insects in the tank if they're not being eaten, as your scorpion may be bitten by his prey.
Emperor scorpions love to climb, so you can add some short branches to stimulate interest.
Emperor scorpions are the scorpions often seen in films; although their size makes them appear scary, they're generally docile and can be used around actors to good effect!
If you wish to breed them it pays to separate male and female , also when you put them together increase the humidity, make sure there's a flat surface for mating .
The second pair of appendages, or claw-like extensions of the scorpion are known as "pedipalps". All arachnids have pedipalps; in scorpions, they are used as weapons.
The emperor scorpion originates from West Africa, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Ghana, and Ivory Coast.
Keep emperor scorpions away from drafts.
Emperor scorpions can live for about 9-12 years; be sure you're ready for this commitment.
Avoid handling your scorpion as it may sting or pinch. The pinch will sure hurt because Emperor scorpions have one of the biggest and strongest claws. Emperor's scorpions stings can be similar to a bee's or a hornet's sting (as its poison is very mild) but it may hurt. The chances of being allergic to the venom is very rare. If symptoms worsen after a sting, consult your doctor.
Scorpions don't like bright lights, so keep the tank out of direct sunlight and away from radiators. This species is especially vulnerable to UV light and too much exposure will stress the scorpion, leading to its death.
While this scorpion does not tend to be aggressive, it can move quickly!
Things You'll Need
Live insect tank and bug food
Tongs or tweezers, plastic container with air holes
Rocks, logs, etc., to provide hiding space and interest for the scorpion
Heat pad, hygrometer, thermostat, thermometer
Arachnid-friendly cleaning product and wipes, scoop
HOW TO KEEP A SCORPION AS A PET
A scorpion is a pet you can never hold. He won't learn to recognize or interact with you, but he will make up for his lack of cuddliness by providing your with hours of fascinating observation. Scorpions are either jungle species or desert species. Since the habitat and care differ for the two types, it's crucial to know which type of scorpion you have. For beginners, the Amateur Entomologists' Society recommends large, jungle species such as emperor scorpions (Pandinus imperator), Thai black scorpions (Heterometrus spinifer) and Javanese Jungle scorpions (H. javanensis).
1- Place a 2- to 4-inch layer of substrate in the bottom of the aquarium. Use clean, chemical-free sand for desert species. Use a finely ground organic substrate covered with a thin layer of coarse bark for jungle species. Mist organic substrates with a fine spray of water until they are moist but not wet.
2- Add a flat rock or ceramic ornament to give your scorpion a place to hide. Other ornaments aren't necessary for the scorpion but may add to your enjoyment.
3- Place a shallow water dish in one corner of the aquarium and keep it full for jungle species. Remove the dish with tongs and wash it thoroughly with soap and water every few days. For desert species, provide a damp piece of natural sponge in the corner of the aquarium. Some species can get all the moisture they need from the air, but if you aren't sure about your scorpion, it's best to give him a sponge.
4- Attach a heat mat to the side of the aquarium with tape. A heat mat designed for use with reptiles is ideal.
5- Place the container that holds the scorpion inside the aquarium and cover the aquarium with a tight-fitting habitat lid. Secure the lid in place with aquarium lid clips. Remove the container with tongs once the scorpion moves out into the environment.
6- Mist the substrate in jungle habitats daily. Desert habitats rarely need misting.
7- Feed the scorpion once or twice a week, at night. Feed small scorpions small crickets, or pinheads. A large scorpion will eat three to five adult crickets per week. Remove uneaten crickets after a few hours. Be aware that uneaten food may indicate illness or improper habitat, so consult your specialist.
Items you will need :
5- or 10-gallon aquarium
Mister that delivers a very fine spray of water
Flat rock or ceramic ornament
Shallow water dish or sponge
Tight-fitting aquarium lid with ventilation
Aquarium lid clips
Flat stone or ceramic ornament
Some sources suggest placing a heat mat in the bottom of the aquarium and covering it with substrate. Be aware that this can place your scorpion in danger: When conditions are too hot, he cools himself by burrowing into the substrate, which would bring him closer to the heat source rather than away from it as intended.
Safe substrates for arthropods is available at pet stores. Avoid products packaged for gardening. These products often contain insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers that are harmful to scorpions.
If you must handle your scorpion, use a long pair of foam-tipped tongs.
Most scorpions sting. Severity ranges from the equivalent of a bee or wasp sting to death. The emperor scorpion and two Heterometrus species deliver mild venom that isn't generally harmful but is very painful. Scorpions move quickly, so you should take care when maintaining the habitat and never handle a scorpion. Scorpions are not appropriate pets for children.
Pandinus imperator : a suitable scorpion for beginners.
Scorpion Buying & Care : How to Care For a Scorpion
Other Websites :
Prepare yourself for an exotic hobby.
(keeping a scorpion)
Scorpion do need our attention in captivity. Despite many reports substantiated or otherwise about their amazing ability to withstand extremes of temperature, starvation, thirst, overcrowding and even radiation, the most likely consequence of replicating unfavourable condition is the death of your scorpion(s)..........
So as not to make things too complicated for the amateur, I'll attempt to keep things systematic even though there is much overlap and possible exceptions
The care of scorpions is divided into sections:
Care of youngs
Before you even purchase or decide to keep as pet wild or captive bred scorpions, it is best to understand some basics of selection or you may end up with a ticking timebomb!
(I strongly recommend buying from knowledgeable pet shop owners or dealers identified species. This reduces the pressure on natural population and gives you a better chance of having a safe pet)
1) Scorpions with slender claws are to be chosen with caution as most belong to family Buthidae which contains some of the most venomous scorpions known. One of the most common is the Texas bark scorpion, Centrutoides vittatus. It may be confused with Arizona bark scorpion,Centruroides exilicauda (C.sculputarus previously) which has been known to cause some deaths in Mexico in 1930-1960s. Stings of bothC.exilicauda and C.vittatus is very painful. Death from stings of related species like Centruroides .limpidus, is not unknown. However, I must qualify that their venom is not as potent as those stated in (2) and so responsible and careful beginners may still keep them as pets.
Picture of Centruroides vittatus
2) Those with slender claws and fat, 'rough' tail is commonly called fat tail scorpion. The common name encompasses various species of genus Androctonus and genus Parabuthus but may be mixed up with genus like Hottentota. These are, in general, bad idea to keep unless you're a specialist or someone doing research on them. The reason is simple, most of us could not tell one from another and species like Yellow fat tail scorpion,Androctonus australis, stings is known to cause death in a small percentage of adults! They are quite aggressive and their venom toxicity to mouse is similar to that of cobra. They are, in short, too dangerous to keep as pets for the general public. Then again there are quite a few experienced responsible amateurs who keeps them. For the beginners, these are 'no-no.'
Picture of 'Saddam' (Androctonus australis) kindly provided by Boddan. Pet decision is really your own.
3) Hadrurus sp.(Desert hairy scorpion), Hadogenes sp. (flat rock scorpion), Pandinus imperator(Emperor scorpion), Scorpio maurus (Israeli gold scorpion) and Heterometrus sp (Asian/giant forest scorpion) are quite suitable as pet due to their large size, mild venom and mild deposition (not aggressive).
Of these, Emperor scorpion ,P.imperator, is most popular and is time proven to be quite safe. My experience with (Asian forest scorpion)Heterometrus (spinifer?) shows them to be ideal pets as well. However, I would not extend that to other Heterometrus sp(especially H. swammerdami). They also appears more aggressive than Emperor scorpion, P.imperator. Hadrurus sp and Hadogenes sp are reputedly safe and quite placid. Scorpio maurus (Israeli golden) is aggressive but the stings is generally mild.
4) Small unidentified scorpions not showing characteristics in 1) or 2) may be kept but please do not handle them until they are identified as safe species to keep. There are many other safe scorpions to keep which are not listed here. In fact out of the 1100+ scorpions catalogued, less than 30 are truely dangerous. But why take chance........
Another 'safe' species for beginners is Vaejovis spinigerus
A possible setup using soil, mahogany wood, twig, pot and rocks
The best generalisation I can make is to simulate the scorpion's natural habitat.
A scorpion's foraging territory usually is not very big so a big container is not necessary.
A plastic or glass tank is recommended. For a small scorpion (<30mm), a tank of length 200mm will suffice. For larger ones like Heterometrus spp(about 100+mm), a tank larger than 400mm is preferred. A community of scorpions is not recommended unless the owner is willing to take the risk of losing some.
It must be qualified that cannibalsim among species like Centruroides spp and Heterometrus spp is rare. Also, Heterometrus spp. has been observed to co-exist well with same species and Pandinus spp. A much larger tank (eg. >90cm) with sufficient hiding place is recommended for a communal tank.
A bunch of irritated Heterometrus spinifer after being disturbed. Species like this can be kept in small groups
Keep the container or tank covered!! With childrens around, please have a lock to secure the tank to prevent accidents. The cover should ideally be at least twice the scorpion's length away from the highest 'crawlable' point in your decor. To maintain humidity in dryier regions in the temperate, the cover of the tanks should be quite dense so as to trap humid air within the tank. This will be discuss later
The position of the tank should not be in the sun. It should be well balanced with little chance of toppling over and kept in shade. Remember, even desert scorpions do not like to be exposed to scathing sunlight. In fact, they hide in burrows (whether man made or self dug) and come out at night to avoid the sun.
Give sufficient hiding place in the form of stable logs and rocks. Scorpions can get crushed if these decors can be shifted. Leaf litter may be attempted but all my scorpions except very young ones ain't impressed..... More about it in substrate
A heating unit in cold temperate countries can be used but make sure not to cook them. Desert scorpion prefers a temperature of about 20-32 degrees centigrade while tropical ones prefer 20-30 degrees centigrade. Temperate scorpions may be kept at slightly lower temperature. In tropics, heating unit is an unnecessary expense. In an ideal setup, a big tank (>90cm) and a heat gradient would be ideal (heater on one side).
If you want to have light to view your scorpion, please make sure that the light tube do emit too much heat. Also the intensity should not be strong or the scorpion will either hide all day or be stressed if no hiding place is provided. With their flourescent property, many would be tempted to use ultra violet light. This is quite plausible as most studies show little or no damage or change in life pattern for scorpions exposed to UV except for reduction in flourescence over time. However, UV is damaging to our eyes and is carcinogenic (ie. it increases your chance of cancer)
One of the most controversial part with seeming disagreements with many keepers. I give my two cents worth and you decide.
For convenience and cleaniness, fine desert soil is suitable for desert scorpions. Keep the substrate dry and provide a water dish for drinking and maintaining humidity. Make sure that the decor have a light, wide base log for the scorpion to dig under. This provides two advantage: It gives scorpion security and prevents crushing. It gives you a predictable place to search for burrow. Many will realise that the water dish is covered by the 'disobedient' scorpion with sand soon. This is hard to avoid.
For tropical scorpions ,especially Heterometrus spp., loose potting soil is a suitable medium. It allows for burrowing which they do in the wild. Keep it moist, not wet. The biggest problem is that mites, parasites and fungus tends to grow especially if you do not dispose of dead uneaten food. Mites look unsightly on scorpion and is not easy to remove. Also there's a possibilty of stench. Greatest advantage of using soil for the owner is that you can observe the intriguing burrowing behaviour of scorpions. The depth of substrate is ideally one and half times your scorpion length or more. You should provide water dish as well.
Paper towels is another possible medium and moisture of this substrate is easy to control and cleaning and replacement is relatively easy. This may be considered for a large collection of scorpions especially young ones.
For most scorpions, being as tolerant as they are, survival is not a good gauge of success. Successful breeding is. With my limited experience in breeding, I think others like David Gaban, Jay Stotzky, Richard etc of the Scorpion Enthusiast Mailing List are better qualified to give their opinion on this.
What I do not really recommend is medium sized gravel. The ungues (two claw like things on the legs) of the scorpions tends to be worn down or broken in such substrate.
Another area of big debate and I mean it. Handling is not necessary except when changing substrate. This is precisely why selection is crucial. A fat tail scorpion sitting there is best left alone though I know some who take chances.
For safe, non aggressive heavier species like Heterometrus spinifer. and Pandinus imperator, hold the metasoma V (refer to anatomy) just below the telson. Metasoma V is long (large margin of error). However, many can and do arch over and give you a good pinch even when held in this manner. Be calm and allow it to cool down by giving its leg something to hold on to. Be aware that handling scorpions with bare hands carries certain risk for you and the scorpion.
For aggressive species or dangerous scorpions, use a tweezer with ends covered with soft moist gauze. As before grasp the metasoma V gently. It is easy to use excessive or insufficient force with a tweezer so a more ductile tweezer is preferred. Refer to picture of Pascal Riewe using a forcep to hold an Androctonus australis.
Another safer method for scorpion and you is to lure it into open and then cover it with a transparent cup. Slide a hard cardboard slowly and soon you'll have a scorpion in a covered cup. So far so good, but keep the cup covered with something heavy so that the scorpion cannot crawl out.
For safe species, you can let them crawl all over you, pet them and do all sort of funny things.
A couple of Pandinus imperator on a hand. The male is closer to the top. All scorpions should be handled with caution.
Heterometrus spinifer on a shoulder. As far as handling goes, I do not recommend that you do so.
Given the wide diversity in behaviour, I would attempt to make some general behaviours observed mainly amongst the 100+ Heterometrus spspecimens I have observed. Most scorpions are nocturnal and are active at night. Some hunt actively for their food and most waits at their burrow for their prey to approach. However, juvenile specimen tends to be more active in hunting their food. Juvenile scorpion are also more likely to use their stings and exhibit aggressive tendency. Many scorpions burrows and rest in these retreats most of the time.
It should be noted that males are generally more active while aggression varies greatly between individuals.
One of the most interesting moments in scorpion keeping is when feeding them food. Different individual and species prefers different hunting method. Most stay and wait till the food comes within range while others actively pursue their food. The Heterometrus sp I've kept exhibit both. So what food do they take?
Large size scorpions can be fed adult crickets and mealworms though the latter is not very popular with my pets. Grasshoppers or just about animals between 1/4 to 1/2 the size of your scorpion can make suitable food.
A Centruroides vittatus tackling a cricket nearly
its own size. Some species can be fed prey similar in
size to themselves but refer to the recommendation below
to be on the safe side. Once you're more experienced by
all means experiment.
The more exotic food includes spiders, large beetles, tree lizards, mice and snakes but these are dangerous preys as they may turn the table. For slower species like Pandinus imperator, it may be recommended to remove the legs or put in fridge to decrease mobilty of crickets. Note that crickets and mealworms can attack newly moulted scorpion so uneaten food is best removed. Also mealworms can severely destroy your logs and are difficult to find once they burrow deep enough. Scorpions sometimes accept dead food and may be persuaded to take them if you put them between their pincers.
Smaller scorpions can take smaller size crickets while baby scorpions take pinheads. In short, crickets are time proven food. Selecting the correct size of crickets almost guarantees success. Besides, scorpions fed on just crickets shows no signs of becoming picky or illness. Alternatively, very small or young scorpions can be fed a large dead cricket.
Here the mother Heterometrus spinifer killed and hold a adult cricket in its chelicerae for the youngs to feed on.
I leave you here to explore the food they can take. Be prepared to intervene when necessary.
As for frequency, adjust it to your scorpions needs. Younger scorpions need regular meals (4 times a week). Older scorpions can be fed twice or once a week. Feed them till they seem reluctant to take anymore. However, water should be provided at all times. Pregnant or stressed scorpions (like newly caught ones) may not feed so check that all your setting is correct and adopt a 'wait and see' attitude. It is interesting to note that Stahnke in 1954 has recorded a Hadrurus sp surviving 9 months wihout food! Another few studies have scorpions surviving 13 months without food. This is not to be repeated with your scorpions however. Most species and individuals need regular food supply to stay healthy.
It must be noted (contrary to what de Vosjoli wrote in 'Arachnomania'), scorpions would not be overfed. They just stop eating when they are full. However, stray crickets or other live foods may attack a resting scorpion especially when it has just moulted.
A grossly fat Pandinus imperator.
However, uncontrolled feeding does not seem to result
in death or otherwise amongst scorpions
As for timing of the feeding, you can feed it anytime but evening or night generally gives a better chance of feeding (especially active feeding).
Moulting and humidity:
Scorpions grow in size by moulting (ecdysis). The moulting is a very delicate period in which the scorpion is most vulnerable. It is the period in which scorpion has one of the highest death (mortality). The old hard cuticle is shed and the newer cuticle is soft. Many scorpions die when this process is not properly completed. It is also a period in which scorpions is prone to parasites and infections. Even their food, the mealworms and crickets may attempt to make a meal of your scorpions.
These are factors within our control. Successful moulting requires sufficiently high humdity. However, excessive humidity may cause loss of limbs during moulting (if extrapolated from theraphosids). Parasites and infection can be prevented with adequate cleanliness while predation by its 'food' can be avoided if these are removed if not fed upon.
As mentioned humidity is maintained either by a water dish or a moist (not wet) substrate. A substrate which allows burrowing is even better. The cover of the tank will further help to trap air moisture.
Most common parasites is the mites. These are generally harmless but looks unsightly on the scorpions. Some mites may colonise and block the spiracles of scorpion resulting in a unwell scorpion. The most likely source is contaminated substrate (esp vermiculite), decor (dead logs) and wild caught food material. To remove them takes a long while and may not be productive. They are entrenched in depressions on the scorpions and needs handling of scorpion to remove. It is easy to hurt the scorpion when doing so. Using low concentration of alcohol on cotton bud may remove them easier but it may also cause harm to your scorpion.
As far as I know, there are predacious mites (Hyoapsis sp)which preys on other mites on sale. These would not stick to your scorpion. This biological 'warfare' may be the best option yet but availabilty and cost is a problem.They are available in commercial package in some countries.
Keep your tank clean is the best as the old cliche goes 'prevention is better than cure'
Refer to mating section in What is a scorpion. Also refer to the sexual difference to identify the sexes. To allow for mating, you must provide a large flat rock or smooth surface to allow deposition of spermatophore by the male. Patience is what it takes
When the baby scorpions are born, leave it with the mother till they first moult. They will feed on the reserves from the yolk. After that you may want to separate them as they may start to eat on each other and the mother may mistakenly eat her own. Do not have other scorpions within the same tank for the time being. Newly hatched scorpions after the first instar will take pinheads (newly hatched crickets) They may also accept dead prey. For Heterometrus and Pandinus sp, it is known to take care of the youngs till the 3rd instar. Mortality is generally lower in scorpions kept with
the mother for the first instar
Heterometrus spinifer at 1st to 3rd instar
Care of Youngs :
It is recommended to separate the youngs after 2nd instar for most species. A paper towel for each container is recommended and this can be moistened to provide water. Very small species like Centruroide vittatus youngs tends to get stuck and drown in small water puddles or droplets and right moisture is crucial. Dead prey could be provided till they are large enough to take larger ones.
African Spitting Scorpion Breeding
New Emperor Scorpion Babies Plus Feeding
Maternal Care of a Scorpion
Scorpion giving birth
Desert Scorpion - Advanced Care - Viewing Setup - Companions - Tunneling Substrate
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by Ann Webb
by Jerry G. Walls
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by Philippe de Vosjoli