Home | Arachnids | Scorpions | Emperor Scorpion, Pandinus imperator, Care – Part 1

Emperor Scorpion, Pandinus imperator, Care – Part 1

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Please see Scorpions in Captivity - An Overview of Popular Species for information on scorpion venom and natural history.
Emperor Scorpion, Pandinus imperator

One of the world’s largest scorpions, the emperor is also the most widely kept, and captive born specimens are readily available.  Other than females with young on their back, emperor scorpions are rather mild-mannered.  The sting may be painful, but is not considered dangerous to healthy adults.

Physical Description

 

 

Females may reach 7 inches in length and, when gravid, exceed 50 grams in weight (by way of comparison, the average house mouse weighs 20 grams); males are slightly smaller.  Both sexes are jet black in color.

Range and Habitat

Emperor scorpions thrive in areas of high humidity, and are generally associated with rainforests.  There are some reports of populations living in wet savannas and human-influenced habitats as well.  They are native to northwest and north-central Africa, with their range extending from Mauritania south and east to Zaire.

Status in the Wild

Wild populations have been little-studied, but concern over huge exports in the early 1990′s led to the listing of this species on CITES II.  Those in the US trade are largely captive bred, although animals “ranched” in Togo and Benin are sometimes imported.  The closely related P. dictator and P. gambiensis, uncommon in the pet trade, are also listed on CITES II.

CAPTIVE HUSBANDRY

The Enclosure

Provide your scorpions with as much space as possible.  A pair can be kept in a 10 gallon aquarium, but larger is always better; a 20 gallon can support 4-6 animals.  The screen cover should be secured with cage clamps.

Physical Environment – Habitat Type and Terrarium Decorations

Emperor scorpions inhabit extensive burrow systems in the wild, and should be given the opportunity to burrow in captivity.  Under such conditions, they will exhibit a wide range of interesting behaviors – far more so than if kept in a simple terrarium.  When able to construct secure burrows, captive scorpions become quite confident and therefore more likely to show themselves.

Emperors also take readily to artificial caves  and hideouts excavated below driftwood and other structures.  I once created a very interesting exhibit by partially burying a number of artificial caves at different levels within the substrate of a 55 gallon aquarium.  The resident colony of emperor scorpions dug pathways between the various cave entrances and established a complicated maze of “avenues” – more reminiscent of rodent runways than anything one might associate with an invertebrate.  I highly recommend this type of set up for your scorpions – please write in if you’d like more specific information.

Substrate

Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate  is specifically designed for fossorial animals and is a great choice for burrowing scorpions.   A few handfuls of Jungle Earth Reptile Bedding  should be mixed in to help retain moisture.

Click: Emperor Scorpion, Pandinus imperator, Care – Part 2, to read the second part of this article.

Thanks,

Frank Indiviglio

82 comments

  1. avatar

    if they have big caves than you cant mist them becuase they will hide from you and you are spose to so they can molt.

  2. avatar

    Hello Spencer,

    Frank Indiviglio here, thanks for your comment.

    Misting is useful in maintaining high humidity. The value of caves and burrows is in their ability to retain moisture so that a humid retreat will always be available to the scorpions, regardless of the misting schedule.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio

  3. avatar

    Hello, I have inherited 2 giant miilipedes from a friend…I do not know where they are originally found. She had been feeding them carrots and the temperature was the same as in her house, not extra heat. So I wondered if you know anything about them – since I can buy everything at petplace and read about everything in your blog(my enclclopedia!) I hoped you can help! thanks.

  4. avatar

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for the kind words…I’m very happy that you find our products and blog useful. I enjoy hearing about your varied (and growing!) collection. I’ve been meaning to write about millipedes – what would a “pet encyclopedia” be without them…thanks for the reminder!

    Most species in the pet trade originate from Africa or Southeast Asia…if you can send a photo or detailed description I might be able to identify them, but the care of all is very similar.

    You should wear disposable gloves when handling millipedes…many release a cyanide-like compound when disturbed. It has not been shown dangerous to people, unless consumed, bit it irritates the skin of some folks.

    Most millipedes are generalized scavengers/decomposers, although some specialize in eating fungus or decaying wood. Pet trade species should be give a mixed salad of chopped carrots, cucumber, kale, yam, apple, orange and other produce…chop it finely, they tend to focus on favorites if given large chunks. I always mix Tetramin Fish Food Flakes and some moistened Tortoise Chow into the salad as well, just to increase the diet’s variety and nutrient content. Well-rotted (soft, “crumbly”) damp wood should be mixed into their substrate, as many consume this in the wild.

    Millipedes should be given a deep, moist substrate into which they can burrow – Fir & Sphagnum Moss Bedding is ideal. A piece of Cork Bark on the surface will help retain moisture and provide an additional hiding spot.

    Our local species hibernate in the winter, but pet trade species hail from warm climates and will not do well if allowed to become chilled. Keep them at 75-80 F. A Ceramic Heater or Night Viewing Bulb will provide heat without disturbing their day/night cycle (they are largely nocturnal). They will become dormant if the heater causes the substrate to dry out – you can avoid this by maintaining a depth of 4 inches or so of substrate.

    I hope this is useful to you. Thanks for the vote of confidence, and please keep me posted on their progress.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  5. avatar

    hi i have a lack emperor scorpion not sure of sex but is about 5 ineches in length and im guessing about 2 years old when its in its “corner”under a log burrow it often seems 2 stand as to lift mainly back but whole body of floor have tried changing heat mat positions and my humididty is consistent 70 and is regulated air flow and temp with fans that are adjustable but steel seems to do it even when not above the matt wonder if u had any ideas just curios as to why it wud do it

  6. avatar

    Hello Ozzy, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    Interesting observation, thanks. If you’ve not done so, please check the temperature of the substrate itself, and of the air above. It does sound like avoidance behavior as you suggest.

    Scorpions sometimes go through some odd posturing before molting or giving birth, but these are short term behaviors and I assume yours has been doing this for some time?

    The other thing that comes to mind is that the animal may be reacting to air movement directly above it. S you likely know, scorpions possess fine hairs that detect air movement caused by predators and prey. Does the animal do this when you remove the terrarium top, lift its log, or otherwise move about nearby? If it is particularly aggressive in feeding or defending itself, it may be reaching towards the disturbance. Just a thought…please let me know what you think.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  7. avatar

    its only started doing it the past couple of days i only use the fans every hour or so for 5 mins he has two areas under some log pieces one side with heat matt and one side with out a walk way of substrate going up over one side as a bank and room too dig ive only had it a few months but its never dug in or anything to suggest heat and have tried all temps and variations it often will do it and stay like that for an hour or 2 sometimes more and stays like that even when i change its environment and i do not disturb it and chek later and is still same

  8. avatar

    i cudnt rule out pregnancy as i havent had it long and currently dnt know its sex as its hard 2 tell from its pectines is there any other way to sex it

  9. avatar

    Hello Ozzy, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    It seems like you are covering all the bases. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a scorpion act as you describe. You might try adding more ground cover, places to hide etc. on the outside chance that it does not feel secure in its hiding spot. Other than that, perhaps the behavior is associated with pregnancy, although such is not typical.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  10. avatar

    Hello Ozzy, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Sexing via the pectines is quite difficult – those of the male are slightly longer than those of the female, but there is much individual variation. When a group of adults are viewed together, males will generally be a bit smaller and more thinly built. Their telsons/tails are thinner than females’, and the individual tail segments are longer. But the differences are not readily apparent when scorpions are viewed in isolation.

    Well, I hope to hear next that your scorpion has nymphs on her back!

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  11. avatar

    thank you for ure help will let u know how it goes cheerz ozzy

  12. avatar

    Hello Ozzy, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks….please let me know what develops.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  13. avatar

    Hello,

    I just put my scorpions in a new tank and they have been burrowing alot. They have been puching each other around and fighting a bit to get into where they are burrowing.
    Now the female, who is like a inch bigger in hiding under another log and both have what looks like a drop of this clear blue-ish colored stuff on theyre claw.

    I read theyre blood is a blue color, do you think they hurt each other?

  14. avatar

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    Moving animals to a new habitat, even if larger and better provisioned, often spurs fighting among individuals that had previously co-existed. Sometimes it’s a matter of competition over prime retreats (as it seems to be here); interestingly, providing enough room for a near-normally sized territory (a good idea in most cases), may result in severe competition among individuals that got along where territorial boundaries could not be established (I have lost birds and crocodilians in zoo exhibits in such situations).

    The injuries likely did arise from fighting…there is not much that can be done as regards treatment; small injuries usually heal, but you’ll need to watch that the animals get along now that they have settled in. Extra ground cover and heavy feeding would be a good idea until you are satisfied that the fighting was just a short-term adjustment to their new situation.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  15. avatar

    there is starting to be mould of sorts on the inside of my tank blue and red mainly on 1 wall and a little on the wood cave structures is this at all serious and what should i look out for

    also since last time my scorpion has setled now and is no longer standing all time seemed 2 be temp related noticed recently tho not eating alot and hasnt been out for a few days even at night i know they dont eat regularly but only eats bout 3 or 4 crickets a week is this inusual

  16. avatar

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the feedback and glad that you were able to adjust the temperature.

    Their appetites vary, sometimes they load up for awhile, and then stop; this could be related to “internal clocks” /circadian rhythms or just a matter of activity levels and so on. Gravid females sometimes eat heavily and then go off feed. ..but 3-4 crickets weekly is average for many well-fed individuals. Try to vary the foods offered as well.

    The mold/fungus is likely not harmful, all sorts, even mushrooms, often spring up in damp exhibits/terrariums.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  17. avatar

    hello frank indiviglio, thanks for your useful care for the emperor scorpion. i am very interested in these scorpion and i think i would ask some :)

    most people says that these things goes over 7-8 inches in length, but what i would like to know is is that from the tip of the longed tail to the head, or from the curled tail to the head (scorp can curl the tail, right) thanks for the info and anyway im from indonesia so my vocab isnt so good.

    also, males are usually aggresive towards other males because they’re territorials, so why can we house them comunally? cant they cause casualty?

    and last, can i feed scorp small lizards or house geckos? i’ve seen pics of scorp sucking down a lizard, but i dont know if this is good or no..

    thanks frank. regards, jason

  18. avatar

    thanks again for your help has helped put ma mind at ease thank you also have been thinking of attemting to introduce another scorpion soon, obv will atleast double size of tank and make sure they both got seperate hides far away and put a glass divide and treat them seperately for a while then remove the divide any othher suggestions for introducing would be greatly appreciated
    thnks nath

  19. avatar

    Hello Jason, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog and kind words.

    The size refers to the length from the head to the tip of the tail.

    Emperor scorpions are unusual in being fairly social; they often live in colonies and females care for and even feed the young. However, in captivity they must be introduced slowly and watched carefully. Not all get along, especially males. Providing a deep substrate for burrowing and plenty of cover to provide barriers is useful. Night viewing bulbs will help you to observe their behavior at night, when fighting is most likely to occur. We are not sure why some males fight and others do not – the size of the terrarium, the origin of the animals (those in some populations may be more social than others), the presence or absence of females can all play a role.

    The bulk of their \natural diet consists of insects, spiders and other invertebrates. Certainly they’ll take a small lizard on occasion, but such is not necessary. Also, scorpions usually just grab their prey and begin munching away…not a very pleasant ending for a vertebrate, as death usually comes quite slowly due to the thick skin and bones.

    Please let me know if you need further information.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  20. avatar

    Hello Ozzy, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Good thinking on the introduction divider; people tend to ignore that important step with invertebrates. I’ve even tried such the notoriously ant-social mantids (a failure!… except for dead leaf mantids, which get along rather well most of the time).

    I’d suggest a screen as opposed to glass divider, as scorpions sense one another largely via chemical means and with the air-pressure sensitive hairs (the eyes being able to distinguish little beyond light and dark).

    Observing them with a night viewing bulb will give you a better handle on what to expect, as they’ll be more active at night.

    Providing a deep substrate and lots of bark, logs and such to break up the terrarium floor and allow them to stay away from one another if need be is also helpful.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  21. avatar

    hello frank. thanks for your useful reply. i think i have any more question to ask,

    how fatal can the fight (if they fight) be? killing or make one loses body parts?

    some caresheet says that they may ocassionaly take pinkie mice, as i live indonesia, it’s easier to get house geckos, lizards, etc more than pinkies. your saying that isnt too necesarry makes me think that that ocassionally thing is just something for fun and allowed, but not necesarry right?

    what burrow should i have? like the exoterra ones resembles caves more than burrow is that ok? may i just make one from paper, make them pipelike and then put them to the ground so it looks like a burrow? perhaps few moist will make the paper wet but still saves the shape of the burrow lol :)

    how easy are females and males to breed?

  22. avatar

    Hello Jason, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Nice to hear from you again.

    Fights can lead to fatalities, so you’ll need to watch them carefully. A screen divider placed between new animals, so you can judge their reactions, is useful.

    Unfortunately, many people feed live mice and lizards to scorpions, frogs and others more for the supposed “entertainment value” than as a means of providing proper nutrition. As mentioned, field research indicates that scorpions rarely if ever consume vertebrates in the wild, and are not equipped to digest them on a regular basis. An appropriate diet consists of crickets, roaches, mealworms, waxworms and wild-caught insects. An easy way to provide dietary variety is to use a feeding tong to offer canned insects.

    Emperors will utilize artificial caves but prefer to hide beneath cork bark or to dig burrows. Like many invertebrates, the feeling of contact (via sensory hairs) with an overhead surface signals scorpions that they are securely hidden. If you do use a cave, bury it halfway in the substrate and fill in the interior a bit if it is very large.

    The artificial burrow you mention sounds interesting…please let me know how that works out. You can also construct burrows from upholstery foam; they may just decide to dig their own, however. Please see my article Creating an “Ant Farm” for Burrowing Pets for additional ideas.

    Assuming the pair co-exist and have a sufficiently large terrarium and are given proper care, reproduction can be expected.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  23. avatar

    hi frank, thanks for the reply.

    i still dont know wheher to get them or not. of course first i have to do research first. and then i have my parents (although they aloow me to have lizards, i dont know with these lol.), also emperor scorp is rare to be sold here, i’ve seen only two online pet shop who sells them in indonesia, one sells babies and the second sells 2 adult (i dk if that’s pair, but he keep them together in a tank and seems to do fine lol) and im moving up soon so i think wether to get them befor or after because it will be harder to move up as im selling my bts too and will use the tank for some good red eyed croc skink and then the old croc skink tank (15 gaL) i think will be used for a / pair of scorpion lol.
    here i can find good substrate of coco peat (peat mos or coco husk i dk) but it looks good like exo-terra plantation soil ets. hides will be thought later if i even got them lol.

    anyway.. are they fond of adds? like artificial plants, log, or rocks?

  24. avatar

    Hello Jason, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Habitat furnishings such as artificial rocks and such are useful in breaking up the habitat – this is especially important when several scorpions are housed together, as it allows them to keep some barriers and distance between one another.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  25. avatar

    i have 1 emperor scorpion in a (20gal LONG) how many can i have in a tank this size?

  26. avatar

    Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    Three-four adults would fit nicely, with room for burrows and normal behavior. However, much depend upon how they get along; 1 male and 2 females would be ideal. Try to obtain a group that is already housed together – you’ll need to introduce them very gradually, and observe their interactions closely (a night viewing bulb would be worthwhile, as aggression may occur only after dark).

    You can increase the chances of their co-existing by providing a deep substrate into which they can burrow and lots of driftwood, caves and other cage furniture. A second tank should be on hand in case of breeding; usually you will need to relocate all except the breeding female.

    Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  27. avatar

    would it be a good idea to get a humidimitr for my emperor scopion you no the ones made by eco tera

  28. avatar

    this is my ste-up i have a 20gal-long tank with lid-clips zoo-md heat-pad T-rex calcium-sand mixe with eco-earth for hiding places i have 3 eco-tera size small caves and 1 T-rex peak a viu borrow and i use a Zoo-md water bowl and for flat surface i have slate-stone and for climding i have 2 pieces of cactus would any room for improvement i was thiking about gotting A humidifier made by eco-tera what do you think?

  29. avatar

    Hello Mark, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    It’s not usually necessary; you can usually keep the humidity up by using a moisture-retaining substrate, providing burrowing opportunities and misting…please let me know if you need specifics.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  30. avatar

    could you help me uot on this one Frank i nead the exact temperature and humidity you no numbers. and my substeate it coconut-fiber eco earth but it’s bone dry by morning i even put a miny drippre on it and misting hans no effest.

  31. avatar

    Hello Mark, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Eco Earth is useful…burrows will hold their shape well and moisture retention will be high, which will raise the humidity level. Sand, however, tends to pull water out of the other substrates, and is not the best choice. A small amount, just to give the substrate structure, is fine, however.

    Use enough substrate to allow for deep burrows – ½ to ¾ of the tank can be filled. Caves work well also, but emperors often prefer to dig their own.

    Sphagnum moss has great water-retaining qualities. Adding damp sphagnum to the caves’ interiors is always a good idea, as is mixing it in with the other substrate if need be.

    Concerning the heat pad…check your air temperature; heat pads often warm only the nearby substrate, leaving the air cool.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  32. avatar

    Hello Mark, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Temperature can range from 78-86 F, with 82-84 being ideal; humidity 70-85%, but humidity can be lower (to 50%) on the surface as long as the shelters/burrows are damp. It’s hard to measure below ground, but if the substrate is damp, or a cave is packed with damp sphagnum, the scorpions will be fine.

    Your heat pad may be drying out the substrate…a ceramic heater might be preferable, as this will warm the air as well. Any heating element can dry the soil, so it will still need monitoring.

    If it is overly dry, try soaking it with water (pouring water onto the substrate) until it is of a consistency where it clumps together when squeezed – i.e just barely holds together, but does not shed water – not very scientific, but effective. Mixing sphagnum moss directly into the coconut husk will also help. You can cover ½ the screen lid with plastic, which will also help. Humidifiers are not usually needed except in very arid regions, or sometimes in homes with forced air heating.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  33. avatar

    hey frank Mark here i need do know the name of a site that sells emperor scorpions for under $20.00 and what do wou keep the babys in?

  34. avatar

    Hello Mark, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Hatari Invertebrates http://www.insecthobbyist.com/hatari/ is a very dependable, long-established supplier; prices vary with availability, but always reasonable there.

    Young can be housed as recommended for adults; they are not great at catching food at first, so monitor them in a large terrarium or set them up in a smaller situation until you are confident that they are feeding.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  35. avatar

    whats up man, cody again. getting back to let you know that i just got my second scorpion. guessing that the first one is a female, i am almost certain this one is a male. female’s anme is Koli and male’s name is Odin, both are old nordic names. i hope that they will soon get along enough to start mating. just wanted to stop by and give you my thanks again for your help. if i have any questions i will be sure to ask you.

    Cody Stratton

  36. avatar

    Hello Cody, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write in with the update and kind words, much appreciated. That is a pair of unique names you have there! Any observations you can pass along would be appreciated, we still have allot to learn.

    I’ll be posting articles on wind scorpions and other odd inverts soon, hope you enjoy.

    Good luck with the pair and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  37. avatar

    hey man, cody here.
    was just wondering if you had a more technical way to determine the sex of the scorpions. i heard the males tail segments will be thinner and the pectines on the bottom will larger. but other than that is there a better way to decide. thanks for the help.

    Cody Stratton

  38. avatar

    Hello Cody, Frank Indiviglio here.

    In addition to what you mentioned above, the males’ tails are, in general, longer and thinner, but there is a good deal of overlap – when looking at a large group, this is useful, but less so for individuals.

    Please take a look at the photos of scorpion undersides which are linked in my article Breeding Emperor Scorpions. These are the best images I was able to come up with, perhaps they will help. I’ve made ID mistakes with young animals and smaller adults, even after seeing thousands of these guys…their getting along that is step in the right direction.

    Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  39. avatar

    Hey Frank, its cody. Just put each scorpion in a clear container to see their undersides. it seems to me that i have a good pair of scorpions as a couple. they are contempt with sharing the smaller burrow of the two in the cage. hope soon that they will have some young ones to care for. that would be quite a site. but thanks for your help. will post with any futher questions as always.

    Cody Stratton

  40. avatar

    Hi Cody,

    Great news…glad the photos were useful. If you have a chance, please take notes and fill me in – interactions between pairs and maternal care vary quite allot, always interesting to learn something new. A red or black bulb may help you watch them at night, when most of the action will take place.

    Hope you’ll be caring for youngsters soon,

    Enjoy, Frank Indiviglio.

  41. avatar

    Hey Frank, I’m new to the site and my girlfriend got an Emperor for Christmas and it died after about two weeks. I think it was stress related as her brother got it for her and was advised incorrectly as far as substrate/ food/ temp it was terrible. But the pet store replaced him and the new guy is doing great. We have a Jungle mix substrate which includes sphagnum moss. It’s about 3-4″ deep. In reading the above info sounds like it might be better to go a little deeper. We have a daylight bulb that keeps temps between 84F-88F and I use a blacklight at night which keeps it at about 75F-78F at night. I have a question about blacklight. Some books and sites say it’s harmless others say different. What is your opinion?

  42. avatar

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    Yes, deeper (6-8 inches or more) is preferable, although some scorpions will construct only a shallow pit below some cover. Keep the substrate just moist enough so that it “clumps” in your hand, so that burrows will maintain their shape.

    If you mean by black light a nocturnal viewing bulb, these are fine and help in observing the animal. I’ve used similar bulbs for years in scorpion exhibits at zoos. The old style VitaLite Blacklights, if still available, are also okay to use. Scorpions do not detect the light from these, and behave normally (red light bulbs are also good, and may allow you to see the animal more clearly at night.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio

  43. avatar

    Hey Frank,Thought of another question for you. Can it ever be too humid for an Emperor? Also what are common indicators when he is beggining to molt? Thanks For the help. :)

  44. avatar

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Hard to make it too moist…if you see mold growing etc. you might cut back for that reason. If shelters are too wet the scorpions may appear on the surface more.

    Some show no signs, but often they cease feeding, hide and are reluctant to move if disturbed; humidity is important at shedding time.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  45. avatar

    hi i have 2 scorpions, in the tank i have a fake background, my scorpions keep going up the back of it, iv tried stopping them but they jus dig through again, they have been at the back of there now for at least 3 weeks. i tried getting them out to feed them but they wasnt interested and went straight back up there. do scorpions hibernate?

  46. avatar

    Hello Kelly, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog and the interesting question – many scorpion owners will likely run into the sane situation, so your comment is very helpful.

    The scorpions have likely found that the area behind the backround is the most secure hiding spot (most of their time is spent burrows or other hiding places in the wild). Try giving them 4-6 inches of moist substrate into which they can burrow, as well as cork bark and artificial caves.

    Emperor Scorpions do not hibernate…if kept cool, they will sicken and die (species living in cooler habitats, i.e western USA, do hibernate). Please check your temperatures (on the tank’s bottom especially) and write back with that info when you can. It may be that they are hiding there because the background area is warmer.

    As for feeding, most scorpions will not eat if they are disturbed, for example by being removed from a hiding place. Put some crickets in the terrarium and leave them overnight…the scorpions will catch them if the temperatures are warm enough. A night viewing bulb might help you to watch the scorpions after dark, when they are most active.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  47. avatar

    hi thanks for the advice,, i had origionally kept the tank in my kitched but now iv moved it into the living room where its a bit warmer,, last night, although it wasnt interested in eating still,one of them actually came from behind the background and was climbing around the tank for quite a while so i think it definatly was that they were too cold. thanks for your help.

  48. avatar

    Hello Kelly,

    Thanks for the feedback. They can take cool temps for awhile, but long periods outside of the 78-86 F range will eventually cause illness/death. Emperors usually feed readily, so you may want to get a reading on your day/nite temps.

    Ceramic heaters can be used 24/7, or a combination of regular and nite-viewing bulbs – just be sure to monitor moisture, as they tend to dry out the substrate.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  49. avatar

    Hi Frank, I bought 2 emperor scorpions about 2 weeks ago, one is a large female, and the other is a smaller female. But i have a question regarding them drinking. I have a shallow water dish that I bought at the pet store but I never see either of them drinking, so im not sure whats going on. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  50. avatar

    Hello Shane, Frank Indiviglio here; Nice to hear from you again.

    Emperors get most of their water from their prey; water dishes should be available but they drink only rarely when well fed. It is also likely that they take some water from the substrate, after misting (like lizards, but without the tongue!). As long as they are feeding and the substrate is misted 1-2x day, they will be fine.

    Good luck with your new scorpions and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  51. avatar

    Thanks for your help Frank. I really do appreciate it and I think you are a great guy for answering everybodys questions. Thanks again.

  52. avatar

    Hello Shane,

    Very nice of you to say that, much appreciated. Please let me know how all goes, and enjoy the articles,

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio

  53. avatar

    Hello,
    So my 2 emporer scorpions have been living together for about 5 or 6 months with no issues and seem to have been great pals. But just resently my smaller one, which from what i can tell is male, has molted. This was about 2 weeks ago after the molt the 2 of them were fine but now suddenly they are fighting alot in the last 2 days. do you have any ideas to why the sudden change in thier behavior? she appears to be getting fatter maybe she is moulting soon and doesnt want to be bothered? as far as i know she is not pregnant. what should i do?

  54. avatar

    Hello TJ, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    Scorpion fighting can be related to a number of things, not all of which we understand, but here are a few possibilities:

    Mating looks a lot like fighting, especially in the early stages when they are testing each other out (“first date” type stuff!).

    Since she is heavy, it may be that they already mated…or perhaps she bred before you came to own her. Scorpions can retain sperm for months, possibly years, and so may give birth at unexpected times. In either case she might battle with the male…Emperors are quite social and pairs stay together in the wild, but in captivity that is not always the case.

    It may also be that he reached maturity with the last molt, and is trying to mate, but she is not in breeding condition yet. As you suggest, shedding could also be involved.

    Sometimes they need more room as they mature – deep substrate in which they can burrow, extra caves and such may help. It would be best, however to split them and re-introduce after a month or so. Before re-introducing, add substrate and hide spots, or set up a larger terrarium. If she is carrying young, the stress of being with the male may cause her to lose the clutch or to consume the young once they appear.

    Good luck and please keep me posted…take notes if possible – we still have a lot to learn about these interesting little beasts.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  55. avatar

    Thanks for the advice, I’ve set up a temporary hold for the male incase the fighting doesn’t stop soon, currently they are together but it seems if he makes a wrong move shes trying to crush him.

    Before the moult he was in his young adult stage so maybe he has reached that maturity. All his color isnt back yet but his telson is a darker color which I’ve heard is a way to estamate age.

    Her weight gain does seem odd not like a premoult because she is still eating and has eaten quite a bit this feeding. I’ve heard sometimes you can see the embryo’s in her side but there is none of that yet.

    I guess we can only hope for the best. Im fairly new to these pets but I love them I learn whatever I can and do tons of research I would hate to loose one of them.

  56. avatar

    Hello TJ,

    Thanks for the feedback – With the new info in mind, I would lean towards thinking she is carrying young. I’ve had scorpions give birth without showing many signs, so don’t cont on seeing bulges, etc. along her sides.

    Definitely would separate as stressed females nearly always fail to produce young or consume them,

    Good luck, enjoy and please let me know how it goes, and if you need more info.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  57. avatar

    hi Frank!
    i have a 55gallon tank that i would like to set up as you described in Part1 with a deeper substrate to allow for cave burrowing by my Emperors. i am completely redoing my tank setup after a complete wipe out that took all five of my Emperors, two of which were pregnant females. I’m not sure what happened; i’ve never had this happen before. i did move into a new(to me) home in a different state but everyone handled the move well (it was months ago) and then two weeks ago, one after another they have all passed. the pollen count here is higher and i wonder if that may have been a contributing factor? but other than that nothing about their lives were changed. i thought i would start over with three, and a more “natural” habitat that would allow them more digging room (previously they only had about 5″ coconut husk). any thoughts? ideas? feel free to email me if you need more info or feel i need more info than can be contained in this thread. thank you.

  58. avatar

    Sorry to hear about your loss.

    I have not run into a major die-off like that either. However, a co-worker who moved several hundred tarantulas for some distance by car lost a huge number of long term captives..he’s an experienced spider researcher and so all the conditions were perfect. It seems they are extremely sensitive to vibrations, and it caused some kind of internal “havoc” (no details known yet) – I expect scorpions would be as or even more sensitive. Most of his died fairly quickly, but some did pass after a few weeks. Perhaps the disturbances caused by the move impaired your scorpions’ immune systems, and left them open to attack by bacteria/disease etc.?

    Scorpions can contract diseases even if well-kept, and we know virtually nothing about that (interesting research for a dedicated scorpion keeper..hint, hint!)

    Think back about other things that may have gone on since you moved in – floor stripping, painting, extra cleaning, etc – maybe something chemical?

    Were any of the animals new to the group – some parasites take awhile to incubate/develop?
    Your new set-up sounds like an exciting prospect – with so much room you should have plenty to observe. A male and 2 females would be fine, but if you plan on a bigger group (5-6) eventually it would prob be better to introduce all at once

    I’d definitely use night-viewing bulbs, as you will be able to see lots going on in such a nice set-up. Covering the glass with black paper may encourage them to burrow near the glass – you can lift the paper to get a look at what’s going on below-ground once in awhile.

    Good luck, enjoy your new home and scorpion and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  59. avatar

    Hey Frank, I have noticed my nerw batch of Crickets laying eggs in my Emperor’s substrate. Should I be worried?

  60. avatar

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the note…usually the adult crickets find the eggs and consume them. But should be no problem if some hatch, the nymphs are actually pretty good scavengers. They may be able to escape through the screen top, however.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  61. avatar

    Thanks. Are Emperor Scorpions easier to keep in pairs than most species? Do they get along better male / female, or same gender?

  62. avatar

    Hello Brett, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog. Emperors are more sociable than most, and in the wild live in colonies. But not all get along – it’s best to buy established groups or pairs, or to introduce them slowly through a screen barrier; be sure to observe after dark, as aggression will likely take place then.

    1 male and several females often works out; multiple male groups are possible, but only in very large terrariums. Females with young sometimes attack others, even after living peaceably for years (probably a function of space – in the wild, gravid females can move off but still remain within the colony. It’s usually difficult to introduce a new animal of any sex to an established pair or group.

    Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  63. avatar

    hey frank i need your professional advice o something i have a gravid emperor scorpion with an adult male and a juvenile whats the best setup for those and what about for a hadogenes paucidens i hear mixed reviews that this species needds humidity a lot as emperors do or dont they and what about substrate for them what is best used for them i heard sand peat moss and gravel also rocks but which is it and do they usually not eat a lot at a time especially the male scorpions of species?

  64. avatar

    Hey Frank, So after having our emperor for about 9 months she gave birth!! All this time we had her improperly sexed and we’re needless to say very surprised to wake up one morning to 9-11 babies on her back. Now, How do we ensure the highest survival rate? Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

  65. avatar

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the feedback and good news; depending upon when she mated, she couls have had quite a long gestation period, very interesting…

    Keep disturbances, cage cleaning etc. to a minimum and do not check on her when she is within a cave or below ground; when agitated, they may consume the young. Best to rear them together if possible – she will feed them for a time; once they molt and leave her back they can be removed, but raising together is possible and will make for some great observations. Feed her 1 cricket at a time, and perhaps remove the rear legs (pinch the leg at the “knee” and the cricket will shed it) so that she can catch it easily; or tong feed if that will not disturb her. If a youngster is dislodged during feeding, the female may grab and consume it.

    Please check this article for further info.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted on their progress.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  66. avatar

    Hello James, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog. Its possible to keep a gravid female with others if they have been getting along but risky as well. I prefer to remove the others (removing the female may stress her); be sure she has burrowing opportunities and hiding spots, but don’t do too much work in the terrarium if possible…stressed females may abort the young, or delay birth for months until they feel secure (they have amazing abilities in this regard).

    The inof on H. paucidens is confusing in part because they in habit fairly dry areas but spend most of their time in very narrow rock crevices that may retain some moisture; they are not, however, a forest species as is the emperor. Sand-gravel-dried peat is a fine substrate; provide narrow hide-spots; stacked rocks are good, but may cause injuries if they shift; cork bark is a safer alternative. Keep the terrarium dry and warm (establish a range from 80-95F if possible, with a dip at night), and spray once-twice daily; some folks provide a water bowl but the scorps usually drink from the substrate/rocks/etc.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  67. avatar

    Dear Mr Indiviglio is it a myth about blacklights being used on arachnids that its bad for their eyesight or can stress them out what would be proper wildlife reenactment of their lifestyle with daylight and night time hours for 24 hour schedule also what is best used for setting up emp home with cork rocks moss and substrate?

  68. avatar

    Hello James, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the feedback. We know very little about how invertebrates perceive light; scorpions can distinguish light from dark, but seem otherwise sightless. Based on observations of zoo exhibits using black light, scorpions and tarantulas do not appear to notice or be stressed by it. Night-viewing bulbs are very helpful I observing tham and providing night-time heating.

    Provide the emperors with 6-9 inches, or more if possible., of substrate so that they can create burrows. Cork bark and rocks can be left about for animals that wish to shelter below.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio

  69. avatar

    Hey Frank, Thank you for you advice so far. You are an invaluable information source and I apreciate it. So Mom and babies are doing great. She gave birth to 10 little ones all made it through the first molt and are learning their new surroundings. We transferred them to a larger enclosure with deeper substrate to give everyone ample room. The question has now arisen, what do we do when we need to clean the tank. I mean they’ve already got burrows running all throughout the tank and we’re worried about cave ins and suffocation factor. Is this a valid concern?

  70. avatar

    Hello Joktan, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the update and kind words.

    Sounds like you’re doing very well. Having a deep substrate with many burrows is ideal Cave-ins are not a major concern, as scorpions are well-able to dig out on their own. Moderating the consistency of the substrate and keeping it moist enough so that it clumps together a bit will help. Scorpions tent to defecate on the surface, so spot-cleaning or removing the top layer on occasion is usually sufficient. I wouldn’t worry about tearing apart the tank to clean below the surface – their waste products are dry and usually break down quickly. Sowbugs are very good scavengers, and a good food item also; might be worthwhile to establish a colony within the terrarium; please see this article for more info, and feel free to write back.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted on how all goes,

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  71. avatar

    Frank! i have exciting great news today marks the birth of my clutch of baby emperor scorpions of my one pregnant female named Nala so far i counted 8 scorplings at the moment at about 8pm est i am so excited and a proud happy father of scorplings :D

  72. avatar

    Dear Frank i was wondering do Hadogens Paucidens eat rarely or hardly in awhile or is it perhaps the enclosure is too cold for her to eat or want to eat she did however drink some water out of a water dish and some off the glass wall which was pretty unique.

  73. avatar

    Hello James, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the interesting comment. H. paucidens are known for their relatively small appetites and slow growth rates; however, like all scorpions, they will slow down and/or stop feeding if chilled. They are said to get most of their water from food, but I always leave a shallow dish and spray – can‘t say that I’ve actually seen one drink…thanks for the observation; good to know.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  74. avatar

    Hello James, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks very much for the news….I know you were hoping! Very nice to hear. You can probably expect more, but don’t disturb her to check. We still have a great deal to learn about these and other scorpions – breeding results vary greatly even in zoos, so please take notes and keep me posted when you can. Congrats on “your part” in the proceedings!

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  75. avatar

    Hey Frank, I was just wondering with my new nymphs what kind of timeframe am I looking at between molts?

  76. avatar

    Hello Joktan, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Nice to hear from you again. It’s hard to predict…they vary widely depending on type/frequency of diet, health, temperature, humidity and factors we may not be aware of. I’ve seen well fed hatchlings shed once weekly for a few weeks, early on in life, but that is by no means consistent.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  77. avatar

    Hello Frank, I have been noticing that my new scorpion is having some troubles eating. When I first brought her home from the pet store she was eating fine, but lately it seems as if she is afraid of the crickets I am feeding her. If one even bumps into her she will go into a panic mode and start pushing the cricket away from her. Its been 3 days since she has last eaten. Any ideas as to why she is showing such behavior?

  78. avatar

    Hello Shane, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Gravid females sometimes become easily stressed; also, I’m wondering if perhaps she was very hungry after being in the store, and so ate right away but is now not at ease in the new tank?

    In either case, make sure all temp/humidity is as it should be and give her plenty of hiding places and let her settle in. Don’t feed or disturb for a week or so (a week or more of fasting is of no concern). If crickets still disturb her try waxworms, a small earthworm, or mealworms. Let me know how all goes when you can.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck,

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  79. avatar

    Hey Frank,

    With mom and the new babies they are eating like crazy. Is there ever a risk of overfeeding with these little creatures? Some of the little ones look so round like they’re about to pop! But all in all the colony is doing well. We still have all 10 and mom doing well a couple of the scorpionlings have gone thru their second molt which bringsa a second question. Is there a particular schedule to their molting? Again thanks for your invaluable expertise! :)

  80. avatar

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the kind words and very nice to hear of your success. It seems that scorpions and other inverts can somehow adjust their metabolisms to food availability (assuming temps and all else is in order); they are primed to grow fast when times are good (especially vulnerable youngsters), and to slow down yet remain active during food shortages. (some evidence of this in snakes also – ratsnakes have been shown capable of adding size even during long fasts!).
    I’ve not seen any evidence of the overfeeding problems that are common to other creatures in captivity. Hard to adjust intake in a colony situation in any event; you can separate weak ones if need be, but otherwise I’d say continue as you are.

    There is no real schedule as to shedding – affected by health, space, stress, humidity, in addition to food intake. In controlled situations one could probably discern a pattern – good future project?

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

  81. avatar

    Hi, I have a female emperor scorpion that had babies. The babies are now around 9 months old or so and have been housed with the mom the whole time. The thing is that I think she may be pregnant again, she killed the male after she got pregnant the first time but I read online that they can have more than one batch of babies from a single mating. Do you know if that is true?

  82. avatar

    Hi Crystal,

    Glad to hear of your success…sometimes captive females do not tolerate the babies either even though they live together in the wild. You must have a good set-up for them. Please let me know some details when you have a chance, so that other readers can compare to their own.

    Yes, they can have several clutches from a single mating; Sperm can be stored for a year, perhaps more. Females also have amazing abilities to delay birth if conditions are not suitable, and perhaps to suspend development.

    Large colonies form in the wild, but we are not sure of the details – some may leave, others may enter. It would probably be safest to remove the older youngsters when you are sure she is gravid.

    Best regards, Frank

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About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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