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Treating Sick and Injured Emperor Scorpions

Scorpion with babiesReptile and amphibian keepers know how hard it is to find veterinary care for their pets, but those who keep scorpions  face even greater difficulties.  I found one or two vets willing to experiment while working at the Bronx Zoo, but in private practice your options are just about non-existent.  What little we do know has resulted from trial and error, and is constantly evolving.

Pre-dating the dinosaurs, scorpions are a hardy lot, and rarely present us with health problems (at least any that we can identify). Spiders are a bit more prone to illness and injury, and some fine work has been done by private keepers (virtually none by vets, however).  Much of what follows is drawn from conversations with spider keepers, and from my own and others experiments in scorpion health care.  In this regard, Sam Marshall’s chapter on spider first aid in his fine book Tarantulas and Other Arachnids is a must read for scorpion fans.

Warning: Seek the advice of an exotic animal veterinarian before attempting treatment…you may get lucky and find an invertebrate expert!

Under no circumstances should you restrain a scorpion by hand in order to treat it.  Even species known to be “harmless” can inflict fatal stings on allergic individuals. Always use long-handled tongs to restrain the animal and seek the assistance of a competent helper.  Please write in for information on chilling scorpions or the use of carbon dioxide or ether as an anesthetic.

Cuts, Punctures and Cracks

Emperor ScorpionTrauma-induced damage to the exoskeleton is not common, but may occur after fights between individuals of greatly differing sizes or when a scorpion is dropped (note: scorpions should be transferred after being prodded with forceps into a plastic box; carrying via tongs is risky, and they should never be free-handled).

Injured tarantulas often lose a good deal of blood, or hemolymph as it is more properly termed. Scorpions seem less likely to bleed profusely, but any loss through a wound can be serious.  Oozing cuts can be sealed with a bit of clean plastic held in place by petroleum jelly.  Petroleum jelly alone may suffice if the animal removes the plastic “band aid”.  Superglue, which has been used successfully on tarantulas, is also worth considering.

Scorpions that have lost hemolymph should be offered water to drink.  Scorpions move in part by adjusting their hemolymph pressure; water should help to restore normal fluid levels.

Leg Loss

Scorpions do not, as far as we know, readily shed legs when under attack as do spiders.  Lost limbs may grow back, albeit in a smaller or deformed state.  Loss of body fluids is the main concern (please see above).

Shedding Problems

Dry conditions can cause a scorpion to become trapped in its old exoskeleton, or to retain pieces of it.  This is especially common in rainforest-adapted species such as Emperor Scorpions, but can occur in desert dwellers as well.  Desert scorpions should be provided with a large shedding box or cave provisioned with damp moss.  Terrariums housing Emperors and similar scorpions should be kept extra moist when the animals shed.

If your scorpion has difficulty shedding, first try covering the tank top with plastic, and misting heavily; the animal may then continue on its own.  If this fails, you can sometimes remove bits of old exoskeleton with a forceps, after misting the scorpion.  Reptile shedding aids are also worth investigating.


Asian ScorpionWe know nothing of the fungal infections that can inflict scorpions. Fungus is rarely a problem with Emperor Scorpions, but may appear in arid-adapted species that are kept in moist conditions. Fungal infections appear as flat or fuzzy grey to white patches on the exoskeleton.

Drying out the habitat, or moving the animal to a drier environment, is the best option.  Human anti-fungal powders have been used with some success on tarantulas, and may be worth trying if the fungus persists.


Tiny white mites usually appear in moist scorpion terrariums at some point. These are almost always harmless, and feed upon decaying organic matter in the tank.  Huge populations can potentially pose problems for shedding scorpions, but this is rare.  Please see the article linked below for information on controlling mites.



Further Reading

Time-Lapsed Video, Scorpion Shedding

Mites in Scorpion Terrariums

Tarantulas and Other Arachnids

Asian Forest Scorpion image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Chris Huh
Emporer Scorpion image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Danny Steaven


  1. avatar

    hello, i bought 2 emperor scorpions (babys) around 4 months ago and have always been able to tell the difference between the 2 because of their behavior due to one being frantic and the other very docile, but today i came home with 2 more scorpions and as i checked on my origional pair, the docile one is pretty much inactive and dosent react to being prodded or to live food, i was even able to pick him (or her, dont know yet) up to put into a seperate tank, there arent any obvious injurys and i dont know what to do. any help would be appreciated.

    • avatar

      Hello Greg,

      Thanks for your interest. They often become inactive prior to a molt; this may not happen before each molt, and often occurs at night so is not noticeable. Unfortunately, we know very little about diagnosing and treating scorpion illnesses; best not to disturb the animal, as if it is going into a molt prodding etc. might cause injuries.

      Stress can affect behavior as well; separating the scorpion from others might be useful as well.

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

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

    • avatar

      Hello Greg,

      Thanks for your interest. They often become inactive prior to a molt; this may not happen before each molt, and often occurs at night so is not noticeable. Unfortunately, we know very little about diagnosing and treating scorpion illnesses; best not to disturb the animal, as if it is going into a molt prodding etc. might cause injuries.

      Stress can affect behavior as well; separating the scorpion from others as you’ve done might be useful as well. Give it plenty of cover; no need to be concerned about feeding right now, let it settle in and see if that makes a difference.

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

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  2. avatar

    Just got a emperor scorpion and there is a white patch between one if his legs, does anyone know what thIs could be and how to fix it.

  3. avatar
    adriana solano valverde

    Mi scorpion emperador se corto un poquito.mi gato voto la pecera y la qebro cuando esta callo irio un poquito en el lomo a mi emperador estoy preocuoada por su salud…como lo curo no sale sangre solo algo blanco gracias

  4. avatar

    Hello Sir,

    I just bought an emperor scorpion a week ago and yesterday while feeding him my friend mistakenly squeezed his tail right above the stinger. And now it seems like he is hurting, he used to be really active with his stinger if we ever try to touch his tail but now he doesn’t respond with his stinger much. I am really scared for him and looked up for almost everything online to fix him. I just wanted to know if i should be really worried for him, will he heal himself during molting? Is there anything I can do to other than waiting? Please reply asap.

    • avatar


      We know very little about medical care for scorpions…nothing can be done other than to leave the animal be. Please bear in mind that scorpions should never be handled…if you need to move the animal, urge it into a container with the aid of a long-handled forceps. The telson should never be used as a “handle”. You mentioned touching the telson.. avoid this – most importantly because even though emperors are not considered to be dangerous, the possibility of an allergic reaction to a sting is a concern. Scorpions should be viewed as animals to observe, not as pets to interact with. Please see this article on care and let me know if you need more info. The animal should be given ample hiding spots and not disturbed in order to view or feed. A red or black reptile night bulb will assist in observing it after dark if it is not active by day (most remain hidden by day, and should be left alone at that time). Disturbing the animal may not result in obvious symptoms, but will depress the immune system, via the effects of stress, and, in time, lead to an early death. best, Frank

  5. avatar

    Hi. I have an African tri colored burrowing scorpion. I’m not sure how old he is, I’ve had him for over a year and he hasn’t had a molt. He usually stays in his hole. But the other morning hewent running to his water bowl and I noticed he was dragging one of his pincers. Any idea what the problem could be??

    • avatar

      Hello tessa,

      Unfortunately no way to diagnose from symptoms…any sort of a traumatic injury could cause this, as might a retained shed; but we know very little about there ailments. Please feel free to update if you notice anything else; best, Frank

  6. avatar

    Hi I have a emperor scorpion which just had baby and the baby have been sepereated and all are doing well. One of the babies seems to have almost like a blister on its side. It’s eats and drinks and seem ok but it has a big clear bubble on its side.

    • avatar

      Hello Alec,

      Unfortunately there’s not much that can be done to diagnose the reason for a blister-like growth; We do not know much about medical care. Best to leave the animal as is..it may improve with the next shed. Best, Frank

  7. avatar

    Hi I have a black Asian scorpion and I’ve had him for almost a month now and I was looking at him and I noticed that he had a small cut on his side and then on his left side towards the bottom he has a small bump on his side what should I do?

    • avatar

      Hello Amber,

      The petroleum treatment mentioned in the article can be useful, but I wouldn’t try unless the animal is oozing fluids…also, one would need experienced help in order to avoid a sting. Simple cuts generally heal w/o treatment, best, Frank

  8. avatar

    Thanks he seems to be doing fine and the cut has healed on it’s own(:

  9. avatar

    Just got a Black Forest scorpion and she has a smaller upper leg stuck on her claw it looks like she was maybe born that way i got it unstuck 3 times but when she walks she doesn’t have full mobility in her little arm and always ends up stuck again I’m worried it will evidualy grow over her mouth dose anyone know anything I could possibly do

    • avatar


      The leg probably became stuck in that position during a molt; it won’t grow any further until the next molt; keep the terrarium moist during the molt and all may be fine once she hardens -up after molting. best not to try and change position, as there’s not much flexibility there and leg will likely revert back…they usually adjust quite well to these types of problems. Please let me know if you need anything, and how all goes, best, Frank

  10. avatar

    Thank you for the advise I will try my best to keep her humidity up until I notice a molt you been very helpful thank you

  11. avatar

    Hi I was wondering if I could put another Black Forest scorpion in my ten gallon tank with my other scorpion with the funny arm I don’t want another scorpion to kill it because of her weak arm and I’m not sure if 2 scorpions would be ok in just a 10 gallon tank sorry if my questions are basic I’m more of a snake guy

    • avatar


      They tend to be aggressive towards one another, especially in close quarters. Considering her “disability”, even a minor skirmish could be fatal, so I would not recommend mixing. Groups have worked out in large terrariums, but they are not nearly as sociable as Emperor Scorpions. best, Frank

  12. avatar

    Thanx again I’ll be sure to keep her alone but I do want to get some communal species I assume emps would be my best bet? Also would a ten gallon be ok for 2 emps?

    • avatar

      Glad to be of help. Yes, Emperors best if you buy as a pair or group; mixing strange individuals is difficult. a 10 gallon can work if you provide deep substrate, lots of cover, but larger always better for general survival and breeding. More info here; please let me know if you need anything, best, Frank

  13. avatar

    I also noticed on another article on this site you helped someone identify a scorpion via picture. Any chance I could send you a picture of my scorpions arm I might be a little to worried about her it’s just that I wanted a scorpion since I was little I even bought a tarantula just so my local petsmart would order another scorpion(apparently that’s the policy at petsmart no archnids until all are sold) i got her the day she come in I was so excited then I got home and noticed the arm was stuck 🙁

    • avatar

      Hi…that’s an original (ordering the tarantula!)! Unfortunately we know very little about their ailments or medical treatment..I wouldn’t be able to add anything after seeing a photo. But molting injuries are very common, and they often molt out of them or do fine with misshaped limbs, etc.; all you can do is provide a good environment and wait. best, Frank

  14. avatar

    Okay thanks for the help also just one more question and I understand ageing scorpions is hard but in your opinion how old is a 3 inch long scorpion

    • avatar

      Hi..all good questions, so don’t hesitate; others benefit also. No way to age, unfortunately, as growth rate varies tremendously with diet, environmental conditions and even origin – various populations of the same species reach different sizes, etc. best, Frank

  15. avatar

    Hi, I have a juvenile emperor scorpion who has quite a few white eggs stuck to it. I have removed quite a lot of them with a paintbrush and cotton buds, but some still remain. They’re definitely eggs and not mites as they’re stuck fast and don’t move. When I removed some of the eggs, they were red inside when I squashed them. The eggs are mainly stuck to the softer areas on his body – rather than the hard plated areas. They’re on the leg joints too.

    His health has improved somewhat since I managed to remove some of them, but what about the ones which are remaining? I’ve thoroughly cleaned the tank out and am not keeping it too humid.

    What could these eggs be and what should I do?

    • avatar

      Hi Trisha,

      Interesting (for us, not the scorpion!)…many wasps (i.e. ichneumons) and flies deposit eggs on or within scorpions (generally too small to see); larvae live within scorp, then form a pupa, which often appears as you describe. But this is not commonly seen in captives, only in animals recently collected from the wild, and even then seems rasther rare. If this is the case, removal (please be sure to do so in a way that will not expose you to a sting) is all you can do..internal damage is already done (many survive this)

      More likely is that the white spots are an inactive “cyst-stage” (dormant stage) of one of the common but rharmless mites that often show up in terrariums; they enter this stage when conditions are unfavorable (too dry, no food, etc).

      Those you see can be removed; for more on these mites, please see this article.

      Best not too keep the terrarium too dry…parasite or other disturbances may stimulate the scorpion to molt; if it does, dry conditons can cause it to become stuck in the old exoskeleton.

      Please keep me posted, best, Frank

  16. avatar

    Hi frank, I have many scorpions (1 desert hairy, 2 emperors, 2 tanzanian red claws, 1 giant flat rock, 1 giant forest scorpion) and i have never seen any of them shed. I have had them for over a year, so am slightly worried I’m not doing something right.

    • avatar

      Hello Ronnie,

      Adults may shed very infrequently after they have achieved full size, unless they are troubled by parasites, etc. As long as they are behaving normally and feeding, there’s no need for concern. Best, Frank

  17. avatar

    Hello there,
    I have a lot of issues with an asian forest scorpion, I recently purchased her and found out that the previous owner didn’t know what he was doing and almost baked her to death and had dry mulch as a substrate. She was very dirty and dehydrated I’m I having a hard time cleaning her I have used cottons swabs with water and gently cleaned her but it’s bad and one of her legs seems to have been damaged and to top that off she has a small clear looking bubble on her anus I’m not sure about. I have a male forest scorpion who is thriving but not knowing the abuse of the female is there anything I can do to help her? Please help me I love my scorpions and want to keep them healthy. Thanks so much.

    • avatar

      Hi Amanda,

      It would be best to let her re-hyrate on her own…keep humidity high and provide a shallow water dish. Clinging substrate should come off with shed…she may shed quickly due to the stress of this; injured leg might be better after as well. Fluid can have many causes, no simple way to diagnose or treat unfortunately. Do not leave extra crickets in tank, in case shedding is difficult – they may try to nibble on soft exo skeleton and keep apart from male if possible for now. I hope all goes well, pl keep me posted, frank

  18. avatar

    Thank you so much. I’ll definitely do what you told me. I feel sorry for her being mistreated. I’ll do my best to keep her comfortable. I’ll let you know how she does.

  19. avatar

    Hello it’s Amanda. Just letting you know that my female asian scorpion is doing well. She is getting along pretty good with my male and maybe someday I could have a few scorplets from them. Thanks for your help. 😉

  20. avatar

    Hello again, I’m worried about my asian forest scorpion. He was sitting on my arm and slipped off and landed on the hardwood floor. I am 5 foot 6 and it was quite a fall. His mouth was pardruding a little and he was struggling to get it back into place. It seems ok now but I’m worried he could be seriously injured. What should I do?

    • avatar

      Hello Amanda,

      There’s nothing that can be done…no way to diagnose injuries etc. Leave the animal be and hopefully it will recover.

      More importantly, please understand that you are unnecessarily risking your health by handling scorpions. We understand little about the venoms of most…even those considered harmless may be dangerous, as venom can evolve over time or differ from point to point in the range. Also, numerous similar species are sold under a single common name, which complicates sting treatment. Individual allergies can result in fatal reactions to nay venom.

      There’s absolutely no benefit to handling…they do not respond, bond or become tame. Also, taking a terrestrial/subterranean animal and placing it in the open, on an arm, above ground, is an extremely stressful event for the creature (stress is difficult to read..not every threat is met with raised telson). Please – move scorpions, if necessarily, by nudging into a container with a long tongs.

      I hope all goes well, Frank

  21. avatar

    Thanks so much i will definitely do what you say. I don’t want to harm them or them harm me. I will respect them safely. 🙂

    • avatar

      Hi Amanda,

      They are pretty tough…may heal on its own.

      Sorry to sound stern, but it really benefits person and animal if we view them with their specific natures in mind. They are capable of amazing things, but cannot step outside certain parameters,. And our own safety should always come first. Please keep me posted, Frank

  22. avatar

    I appreciate your help. Honestly i cried because I thought I killed it. I will let you know how he does.

  23. avatar

    Hello frank I been reading about scorpions molts and about fungus but i have a question because my emperor scorpion has some white ashy areas around one of his claw and on his side were his sotf tissuse is at. This tank isnt really moist but I have 3 water dishes which I put water everyday. I had him for 11 months and had never a problem with him and I also have a red claw with the same set up and his doing great but for the last 9 days he stoped being active so my question is when he is molting is it hard for him to go in the water dishes to get moist ? Or could it be a fungus? Should i make his tank more moist? Could u please reply back to me on my e mail address I would really appreciate thank you

    • avatar

      Hello Adam,

      A fungus infection is always possible, but not all that common in scorpions. It is important to provide a moist environment when they shed, or they can become stuck in the old exoskeleton, break limb, etc. You can spray heavily and cover most of the screen top with plastic (not good to cover all the time, as ventilation is important, but during molt this is fine). Mixing sphagnum moss into the substrate, and providing a cave stocked with damp sphagnum, will also help (it holds quite a bit of water). In very dry homes, small misters are another option. I hope all goes well, frank

  24. avatar

    Hello Frank, I have an asian scorpion and he has hurt his leg somehow. It’s been broken in the knee hinge and he keeps leaking a clear like fluid when he moves around. It was damaged a week ago i think. What exactly is this fluid and will he possibly die? He drinks plenty of water and eats what should I do? And how long will it take to heal? I’m afraid he’s too old to molt.

    • avatar

      Hello, You are seeing hemolynph, which is the scorpion equivalent of blood. It is not likely critical, as the animal would have expired by now, and a good sign it is feeding. A drop of nail polish or “liquid skin” (sold over counter at drugstores should seal it, but care should be taken to avoid a sting. Best to use 2 people, restrain animal with a 10 inch feeding tong or place a clear plastic box over scorpion with just the leg protruding, etc. Substrate often adheres to wounds and assists in closing off also..this one may remain open due to location, at a joint, but it may heal w/o treatment in time. I hope all goes well, let me know if you need anything, frank

  25. avatar

    Thanks so much for the info. I will watch him and see if he has difficulty. He does have trouble moving a bit with a kinked up leg. I will get some help to hold the little guy down and use the glue you mentioned. I will let you know how he does.
    Thanks again.

  26. avatar

    I have to say I’m glad you have this site and provide help to those who love their pets but aren’t sure how to help them when they are hurt. Thanks so much on behalf of me and other scorpion owners.

  27. avatar

    Hey there Frank, just wanted to let you know that my scorpion is getting along well. I believe he’s healed but kinda struggles a bit with the mangled leg. I got some nail polish just in case. He has more energy than before and i made sure he has fresh water on hand. Thanks for the advice.
    Sincerely, Amanda

  28. avatar

    My red claw scorpion back end is getting swollen looking what does it mean

  29. avatar

    Hi I have a Asian Forrest scorpion we have had her for about a year but recently she has become very lethargic and has a white area all over her stinger and several segments of her tail. I’m not really sure what to do and was wondering if you could offer insite.

    • avatar

      Hi there,

      This could be caused by several things. The scorpion could have dried feces on its tail, which is white in color. It could be a fungus, or it could just be getting ready to molt. If you could post a picture, that could be very helpful in identifying what the situation is.


      • avatar

        I can’t really get a good picture but recent evaluation has shown that its now all over her mouth area.

  30. avatar

    Just came home to find one of my Asian Forest Scorpions missing the sharp end of its stinger. I have it housed with another Asian Forest Scorpion whom I guess fought and removed it while I was out. Will this regrow? Or is this scorpion in a word screwed… They have been together for a while now with 3 hides and are well fed so I honestly didn’t expect this to happen. My emperors fight once in a blue moon but never to the extreme that one is injured. Thanks for your time 🙂

    • avatar

      Although it can be done, I don’t usually recommend housing Asian forest scorpions together, they are not nearly as communal as emperors. That being said, there isn’t much need to worry. The stinger should grow back once the scorpion molts.


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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