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Scorpions in Captivity – An Overview of Popular Species: Asian Forest Scorpions, Genus Heterometrus

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

Note:  Please see Scorpions in Captivity – An Overview of Popular Species, Part I for general natural history and captive husbandry information.

Asian Forest Scorpions, Heterometrus spp.

Several species that superficially resemble emperor scorpions are sometimes available in the trade.  Known collectively as Asian forest scorpions and hailing from Southeast Asia, the most commonly seen is Heterometrus spinifer.  Like the emperor, it is jet black in color, but the claws have fewer spikes and its maximum size is 6 inches. 

Basic Care

I keep Heterometrus in much the same way as I have described for emperor scorpions (Please see Scorpions in Captivity – An Overview of Popular Species: The Emperor Scorpion, Pandinus imperator).  Like their African cousins, Asian forest scorpions are also quite social…a group of 10 that I housed together in an exhibit at the Bronx Zoo co-existed for years without incident.  They seem to be quite temperature sensitive, and are best maintained at 78-85 F.  The gestation period is 5-8 months and sexual maturity is reached in 1-3 years.

Asian forest scorpions are somewhat more high-strung than emperors, and sting readily.  Heterometrus spinifer is not considered dangerous to healthy adults, but the closely related H. swammerdami of India (which, at 10-12 inches in length, is among the world’s longest scorpions) has reportedly caused fatalities.

Asian forest scorpions and emperor scorpions are both classified within the Family Scorpionidae.  Further information and a complete listing of all related species is available at http://www.ub.ntnu.no/scorpion-files/scorpionidae.php.

Please write in with your comments and questions…suggestions as to other species you would like to read about would be most appreciated.  Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.

10 comments

  1. avatar

    I have a female scorpian sold to me as an asian forest scorpian. Yes it looks like the pictures but has dabs of white all over it`s body. I keep a wide range of animals from the bearded and asian dragons (lizards) to an african grey parrot. I always research my animals fully as a keeper I think it is my duty. But the scorpian it seams a bit more difficult to research, was not sure about vitamins but what you say makes good sense and will do like wise thank you. One thing though I found her more aggresive with her claws and as yet has not attacked my feeding tongs with her sting. No I ain`t daft enough to put my hand in.

  2. avatar

    Hello Victor, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your kind words and interest in our blog.

    My compliments on taking the time to research the animals in your collection…we certainly could use more of that! We know very little about the specific vitamin/mineral needs of scorpions – far less even than is known for reptiles and amphibians. Most of what seems to hold true has emerged over the years through trial and error, correspondence between interested people and comparisons with related, better-studied species.

    Your safest course of action would be to provide as much dietary variety as is possible, as described in the article you referenced. Forest scorpions likely take dozens of prey species in the wild; although many scorpions get by, often for years, on a cricket-based diet, I have noticed a definite difference in the overall health, vigor and breeding potential of animals maintained on varied diets.

    Your food animals should also be fed a balanced diet before being offered to animals in your collection…please let me know if you need any further information on that topic.

    Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar

    Yes I have fed crickets & meal worms vitamins with their fruit & and veg` when gut loading them for my lizards. Also now trying other foods for the scorpian such as wood lice, worms, and other animals that I feel they may encounter in the wild. Thanks again for your help.

  4. avatar

    Hello Victor, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for taking the time to write back.

    Great idea…scorpions really do take quite a wide range of prey, and providing such in captivity goes a long way in keeping them in good health. When you have a chance, please let me know what sort of invertebrates your scorpions accept.

    Enjoy, good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  5. avatar

    hi i purchased a female Asian forest scorpion from Pet Smart a while back and i went to 4 different pet stores for some concerns about her at the time and a couple of them even told me that she could possibly be “pregnant” because she is very wide or a just a very good eater but i was wondering why would Pet Smart sell me a pregnant scorpion i just recently bought a male Asian forest scorpion so i could breed them i have her in a 15 or 20 gallon tank witch i know is a lot of space so i put a wall to split the tank and put the male in the other side of the wall because the pet stores were telling me that i could stress her out if a male was in the same tank as her if she was pregnant but they both climb the wall to get to the other side because i have introduced them she seems to like him or something because acknowledges him and he doesn’t to her but i was wondering if i should remove the wall witch has been for a day and a half or not and just purchase a separate tank to put him there so what should i do and also i play guitar and i have a amplifier that i plug into when i play and i was wondering if me playing guitar with the amplifier stress or agitate them ??

  6. avatar

    Hi Cesar,

    It is difficult to tell if they are ready to give birth, and pet stores generally do not check. They are social in the wild…things change in captivity, and females may become aggressive if carrying young. If they get along, it would be worth a try keeping them together, as fighting would likely have occurred right away. if she does give birth, it would be best to remove the male.

    Interesting question re the music…they do not hear per say, but have sensory hairs that detect air movement..these are, I believe, the most sensitive known (despite having evolved prior to the dinosaurs!) and I believe they can pick up vibrations from certain types of sounds. An arachnologist friend found that tarantulas reacted to some sounds also..would be best to keep them away from music.

    Please keep me posted, enjoy frank

  7. avatar

    so i removed the wall and they are doing great and i also played my guitar and you were also right thanks i really appreciate it but now im finding them in the same hiding place at the same time i feel like shes a bit more aggressive towards me and hes very skittish but not when im holding them i was tring to look at what was the average amount of litter do Asian forest scorpions have but could not find any useful information and i was wondering if they would have the same feeding times because hers is Saturday and they pet store told me they feed all there animals Mondays and also a little additional information i have a Day & Night Combo Pack Reptile Bulbs that i turn on the day one at 8 am and turn it off at 7 pm and i turn on the night bulb the humidity is at 75 and the trumpeter is at 79

  8. avatar

    Hello Cesar,

    Glad they are doing well. They will always be skittish around people…they do not see anything in the way of detail, just light/dark as far as we know,, they sense air movement with the sensory hairs, which gives them an idea of the size of the disturbance..people are sensed as large, dangerous objects. despite what you may see on the internet, scorpions should never be held…absolutely no reason for this, and always a negative for the animal. they do not become”tame” or in any way bond to people. In addition to being painful, a sting could be potentially serious or even fatal if you are allergic, or if the species is misidentified (many are similar).

    No need to worry about feeding days, etc…they need very little food, and adjust metabolism accordingly. offer 2-3 insects 2-3x weekly; gravid females often do not feed.

    They may have 5-15 young, but this varies widely.

    79 F is OK for ambient temperature, but there should be a warmer area available as well – 85-86 F.

    They can be kept as described for Emperor scorpions in the following 2 articles:
    http://blogs.thatpetplace.com/thatreptileblog/2009/03/06/emperor-scorpion-pandinus-imperator-care-part-1/#.VQjwzuFkCGE
    http://blogs.thatpetplace.com/thatreptileblog/2009/03/09/emperor-scorpion-pandinus-imperator-care-part-2/#.VQjw3OFkCGE

    Best, Frank

  9. avatar

    I found a good deal on a ten gallon tank, and I was wondering how many adult asian forest Scorpions can be housed in a terrarium of that size? I looked on the Internet and couldn’t find any good answers.

  10. avatar

    Hello Isaac,

    One adult, or a pair if they get along, can be housed. Be sure you look into heating as well…let me know if you need more info, best, frank

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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