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.
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.