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“My Emperor Scorpion Has Babies…What Should I Do”?

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Emperor Scorpions give birth to live young, and most hobbyists are thrilled when this happens.However, scorpion reproduction breaks many of the “rules” that apply to other pets.For example, a female that has been alone for 14 months may one day be found with 30 tiny white youngsters, or “scorplings”, on her back!I’ve written about scorpion breeding and care in detail elsewhere (please see links below), but thought that an article describing what steps one should take when first discovering youngsters would be useful…especially if your female turns out to be a less-than-perfect mom and begins eating her new creations!Please also be sure to post your questions and concerns below, as scorpion births often take owners by surprise, and I’ll be sure to get right back to you.

Predicting Scorpion Births

In the wild, some Emperor Scorpion populations breed seasonally, while others may reproduce year-round.Captives can mate and give birth during any month of the year. Further complicating our ability to predict births is the fact that females seem able to both store sperm and delay giving birth if conditions are not ideal.Environmental factors such as temperature and stress may also affect the youngsters’ development.Even under ideal conditions, the gestation period may exceed 1 year, although a range of 7 to 10 months is more common.

Most female Emperor Scorpions will cease feeding approximately one week before giving birth, and they usually become quite heavy as the young grow.When such females are viewed from above, the carapace segments will be separated by spaces – not abutting one another, as is usual (however, overfed scorpions of either sex may also appear gravid).

Scorpion with young

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Fusion121

Housing the Female and Her Young

Although wild Emperor Scorpions continue to live with colony members after giving birth, captive mothers often become aggressive towards tank-mates. Therefore, it is best to remove all other scorpions from the terrarium once the youngsters appear.This can be troublesome if you are keeping a large group, but relocating the female is not advisable as this may stress her to the point of consuming her brood.I’ve had females raise their young in group situations in large zoo exhibits, but there were some losses.

The Importance of Shelters

Ideally, the female will have a burrow in which to retreat.This will provide the security she needs while carrying her young. In bare terrariums, the likelihood of cannibalism increases.

In order to be prepared for unexpected births, you should provide your scorpions with a substrate that allows for the creation of deep burrows.Tunnel and burrow walls will remain intact in a slightly moist mix of peat moss, sand, top soil and Eco Earth.If your female gives birth in a tank that is not set-up as described, try adding a commercial cave stocked with moist sphagnum moss.If the substrate is deep enough, bury the cave so that the opening is flush with the surface.

High humidity and moist retreats are especially important for young scorpions, as, unlike the adults, they are prone to desiccation.In especially dry locales, a small reptile fogger may be useful.

Cannibalism

Newborn scorpions are white in color, and remain on their mother’s back until their first molt (photo of female with young is of an unrelated species).If the female is disturbed during this time, she will make very fast defensive movements.Scorplings that are dislodged during such times may quickly be grabbed and eaten.

Therefore, do as little work in the terrarium as possible, limit activity in the area, and resist the impulse to check on your charges.To avoid stings, a long handled forceps should always be used when working in scorpion terrariums; this is especially important when females with young are present. Black or red nocturnal viewing bulbs offer the best way to observe your pet’s night-time activities, as the light emitted is not sensed by scorpions.

Feed your female scorpion heavily after she gives birth, as most will be very hungry and therefore more likely to “snack” on their young.Be sure to remove uneaten crickets and roaches promptly, as they will consume newborn scorpions if given the opportunity.

Defensive display

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Mike Baird

“Bad Moms”

Some females feed upon their young even if conditions are ideal.Most will “sample” one or two of their brood, but if your scorpion seems bent on eliminating her entire clutch, then your best to remove her and rear them yourself.Please post below for further information on separating and caring for young Emperor Scorpions.

Please check out my posts on Twitterand Facebook.Each day, I highlight breaking research, conservation news and interesting stories concerning just about every type of animal imaginable.I look forward to hearing about your interests and experiences as well, and will use them in articles when possible.

Please also post your questions and comments below…I’ll be sure to respond quickly.

Thanks, until next time,

Frank Indiviglio

Further Reading

Emperor Scorpions in the Wild and Captivity

Breeding Emperor Scorpions

36 comments

  1. avatar

    thought id let you no my last remaining baby scorp i removed is still alive n but now the mother hasnt eaten since giving birth not sure whats wrong ? is it normal ?

  2. avatar

    Thx for the update, peter. She nay take some time to settle down and begin feeding; the stress of reproduction, etc., can cause this. As long as she was feeding well earlier, should be no problem…they need far less food than one would imagine. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to tell if aome other ailment, disease etc is at work, as we know very little concerning this aspect of their care. Best, frank

  3. avatar

    Hi there!

    My scorplings are just over a week old and seem to be keen on starting to leave Momma’s back-time to separate?

  4. avatar

    Hi Katy,

    Under ideal conditions, the young can be raised with the adult, but there are risks. If you wish to separate, wait until they leave her back voluntarily; move carefully, as a disturbance can cause her to attack those that remain on her back, etc. if you can, wait until all are moving about on their own. Enjoy and pl keep me posted, Frank

  5. avatar

    Thanks for your advice. It is very hard to find good information. I think we still have 11 baby emperor scorpions. 2 have been moved to another terrarium. I am having a hard time keeping humidity stable in both terrariums. One was too moist and started to look moldy. So I moved the 2 babies from there to a temp plastic kritter carrier for tonight. What might be good is it is smaller so they might be able to get their food easier? I did put the heating pad on the side of the plastic container. It says it’s 90 degrees, it does not feel hot enough to cause any damage. The babies go right up to that side of the tank. Hoping it’s not too hot for them. It would probably fall to 70 if I took the pad off. Is that too cold? I have a red light but it dries out the substrate too fast. The 2 babies are not eating yet, I keep dumping in the pinheads. I bought little 1/4 inch crickets, should I try those? One of the 2 babies is not doing as well as the other. We may have moved her prematurely, but mom was picking her up from the floor, I was afraid she was going to eat her, so I opened her claw and the baby fell out. She does not seem to be damaged, just a little younger than the other? (Mom had given birth starting and stopping for a week, probably because I was checking on her a lot. I did not know not to bother her…)

    The 9 that are still with mom, I tried to move some, but they ran back to mom when I got my soup ladle in there. I keep thinking they are not all there, but some are hiding under mom now. She is in and out of her hide. She seems to be ok with the babies on the ground… What I am unsure about is:

    She seems to have eaten her first cricket since birth yesterday. (I don’t see the cricket anymore). How do I feed her and the babies while they are communal? Should I put an adult cricket in the tank again? I am so worried it will confuse her, and she will eat the babies… Should I hang it in front of her face with tongs? She will not like the tongs coming at her right now. Should I put small crickets in the cage for the babies yet?? Or pinheads? Should I lift the hide to see if the cricket is still in the tank, but hiding? Should I remove the water dish? I have not changed water in a week – I am too scared to bother her… since I removed her other 2 babies she has been much more cautious… I have a very hard time keeping her tank humid, I mist every day, but that also bothers her… it’s all very complicated! I think they are 3 weeks old now. They have all molted as far as I can tell, and are turning brown. I have not seen any of them eat… And mom has only eaten the one cricket… I think… I am worried they will die from not eating. Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.

  6. avatar

    Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for the feedback, you’re doing everything right…losses are common, even in zoos; whatever we do, it’s an extremely un-natural situation and scorpions sense that (they pre-dated the dinosaurs, and so are rather “set in their ways”!

    It’s hard to starve a scorpion…they can regular metabolisms to deal with food shortages, so don’t worry too much.

    90 is ok if they seem unstressed. Youngsters desiccate easily, so best to avoid the light you mentioned unless the are in a larger tank.

    You can try the size up from pinheads.

    Female may take a killed cricket from a tongs if you crush it a bit, and move very slowly…scent sometimes sparks them. Don’t worry about finding other adult cricket. If you add another live adult, try pinching the crickets back legs at the “knee”…this will cause the leg to drop off; limits it’s movement and so may draw female’s attention and be caught quickly. Scorps have unique sebnsory hairs that detect air movement…can distinguish prey types, etc, so a stumbling cricket may work.

    Shallow water bowl is fine, or add some gravel to lower water level; any disturbance is a risk, but no way around that.

    Does female have a cave, to get out of sight? If not, and one can be added w/o too much trouble, this would be useful. would allow you to work, mist while she is in shelter.

    Pouring in a bit of water might be less stressful than misting.

    Probably best to leave young in, add small crickets in large tank…if you see losses, then risk moving them…no set rules, sorry, each situation and individual varies, but you doing what should be done.

    Enjoy (if possible!) Frank

  7. avatar

    Thanks for the advice. She does have a half log she hides under and when I see she is hidden I mist or whatever. It does help. She has settled down again since taking out the first 2 babies. She did not like that at all. All the babies are off her back in the past hour, I am hoping to move some in the next few days, but most of them are hiding under her now. One of the issues is that the tank is fairly small for all these shenanigans. The pet store thought 5 gal would be fine for “him,” but now with babies there is not much room to maneuver in there. The half log is about an inch from the water bowl, then there is more room on the other side. I’m hoping to inch the log over some more.

  8. avatar

    Hi Rebecca,

    Thx for the feedback…I didn’t think to ask you about the size..that explains a lot. A 5 gallon is too small even for a single adult; a female with young will sense the close confines and be stressed. Try for at least a 10 gallon eventually. Best, Frank

  9. avatar

    Good news! The back-leg-less crickets worked! I fed her at nightfall, and she got it in about 60 seconds. She can tell the difference between cricket and baby scorpion very easily. She passed it from hand to hand until it stopped moving, and all the babies came running for dinner. I watched 2 of them eat while she continued to hold it in her hand. Then I got out of there. The other 7 were not as aggressive and may not have fed, so I fed her again in the early am while it was still dark. This time she ate half then gave the body to a baby to feed on for a while. I did not stick around to see who else ate. Since it went so well, I will try again tonight, and maybe add in those little crickets too. Seeing her feed the babies was very inspiring. She also let one of them crawl back up on her back. For now, they will stay with her mom.

    I will definitely get them all more space in the future.

    Thank you for the advice.

  10. avatar

    Very good to hear, thanks for letting me know! Lucky guess on my part!…teasing – no guarantees with these guys, but some tricks have proven useful. Wonderful that you saw her feeding the young..not always done, or observed. Amazing, they are one of the most ancient groups to survive until present..please keep me posted, Frank

  11. avatar

    This week’s update is mostly good news. We observed lots of feedings with mom and babies. We even watched a baby take down a somewhat handicapped large cricket. Unfortunately the two that we separated from mom did not make it. Not sure why. We did see one of them eating and tried to keep their home humid. The 9 babies that are still with mom seem to be doing fine. They have found nooks and crannies to hide under. This morning the mom’s stinger looks white and crusty. It’s hard to see through the glass right now as there is condensation. I am hoping it is just poop??? Do I need to try to clean it off??? Not sure I want to get in there. Also wondering what to do about their group home. Move everybody to a bigger tank? Start moving a few babies? Leave everybody together in this tiny 5 gal tank for a while? We don’t plan to keep everybody, although it is tempting. We have two 5-gal tanks. Wondering if we can make use of them still. One is currently housing mom and 9 babies. The other is empty, but set up with substrate. We definitely want to keep the scorpions until we can determine genders. We want to keep the mom, and one boy at least. Not to breed – is it even wise to breed mom and son? My son wanted a boy all along (the pet shop told us mom was a boy). But I assume we need 2 tanks for a male and female scorpion if we don’t want to breed them?

  12. avatar

    Hi Rebecca,

    Glad to hear your news; I would not try to remove anything from the stinger, will likely be fine and in any event no way to determine what it is.

    You’ll need a larger tank eventually, as they grow, but best not to disturb for several weeks…gender determination cannot be made until age 1, 2 or 3, depending on diet and other factors; it is difficult to do..please see link on article, showing genital openings of each sex. Best, Frank

  13. avatar

    mother scorpion eat her baby.baby age 3 day they not get into her mother back.they are mother eat the baby.
    i give spider,ants in the cage but the scorpion don’t eat them.
    what are they eat water?

    i live in bangladesh.i dound it on forest. (i don’t know anything of scorpion)(but i try to know something)

  14. avatar

    Hello Sohag,

    It is a bad idea to keep scorpions unless you can identify the species and are sure they are not dangerous. The venoms of several species have caused human deaths; even those considered not deadly can cause serious illness or death if a person happens to be sensitive or allergic to their venom. We know nothing about the venoms of others; many in Bangladesh have not been studied.

    The stress of captivity often causes female to eat their young, and the young not to feed. Even in zoos, females with young are difficult to care for. I advise you to release them where they were found, and be sure not to handle them.

    Best regards, Frank

  15. avatar

    thank you for advise.
    could you tell me what is my scorpion species.please where i past my scorpion photo.
    (please,please)

  16. avatar

    mother scorpion eat her baby.what can i do?

  17. avatar

    Hello,

    Unfortunately it’s not possible to identify most species by a photo…there are very tiny differences, some internal, in the various types. many Asian species have not been studied and have no common names. Please take my advice and release the animals…it is dangerous to keep unidentified scorpions. Best regards, Frank

  18. avatar

    Hello,

    Emperor scorpions usually eat the youngsters as a response to stress…disturbances, a too-small terrarium, no hiding places, etc. Sometimes this also occurs when she is feeding…seems almost accidental. If the young are off her back, you can relocate her or them. if they are on her back, best to just leave them. Some females consume several and then raise the rest w/o problems. They are agressive at this time…take care when working near her. best regards, frank

  19. avatar

    what is scorpion eat.

  20. avatar

    how i kanow my scorpion is a females or male.

  21. avatar

    are you know about bangladesh.there are a little number scorpion in this country.(most of pepole kill them)

  22. avatar

    how i know my scorpion is a male or female?

  23. avatar

    Hello,

    We have much to learn about the scorpions living there…undiscovered species almost certainly exist; those that are known have not been well-studied., As most people cannot tell dangerous from non-dangerous species, all are killed (this is common wherever scorpions occur); as children are frequent victims, the killing of all scorpions near homes will not likely stop. Best regards, Frank

  24. avatar

    Please see this article for information on feeding emperor scorpions. I do not advise keeping scorpions unless you have first done a good deal of research as to their needs, and the possible dangers involved. Never keep a species that you cannot identify…a number produce venom capable of killing people. People who are allergic to the venom can be killed even by those considered “harmless”. Distinguishing the sexes visually is very difficult and requires some experience. Differences vary among the species as well. best regards, Frank

  25. avatar

    Hey my babies scorpions haven’t been eating and burrowed themselves down and closed off the cave is that normal

  26. avatar

    Hi Todd,

    They sometimes do so when shedding, but generally not a whole group at once….low temperatures or low humidity could be involved. Please send some details as to past history, day/night temperatures, etc. best, frank

  27. avatar

    Exciting news. We are reaching 4th instar. I think that’s what I mean. Our third shedding. Right after the 2nd shedding, the mom died, we were very sad. But we still had 9 babies. We moved everybody to a nice big tank with plenty of substrate. Lots of burrowing happened, and now we don’t see the kids so much anymore. About a month ago it got colder and they all went down below. Less feeding. I wasn’t sure if it was too cold or if they were moulting or both. This week we saw more movement, and 3 molts so far in 3 days. They seem to be moulting, then going back in the burrow, and then dragging the exoskeleton into the burrow behind them. Not sure why they do that?

    I am wondering what the best way to heat the tank is. It’s about 30 gallons. 4 inches of substrate with gravel on the bottom. We live in a dry climate. I have plastic wrap over most of the top to keep it moist. I have a mat heater underneath but it probably isn’t enough. When the heat is on in the house the tank gets up to 70 F, with no heat on in the house, it gets colder and I don’t see much movement or feeding. What kind of bulb can I use on a lamp, and when can I use it?

    Thanks for your help!

  28. avatar

    Hi Rebecca,

    Very nice to hear , thanks for the update.

    You will need to raise the temperature, as 70 and below long term is not suitable. A ceramic heater is a good option; a 100 wt should do it, but in very cold situations you might need a 150. You’ll also need a ceramic-based clamp lamp to house the heat-emitter. Red or black heat bulbs can also be used, but the heat emitter will give a more penetrating heat, which should help to warm the substrate. You’ll need to monitor humidity carefully, likely spray more once you set up the heater or bulb, as both can dry out the terrarium.

    A temperature/humidity gauge might be useful…some of the newer models are equipped with probes that can be inserted into tunnels, etc.

    Shed skins are a good Ca source..yours are likely consuming their sheds (they do not always do this, it seems).

    Enjoy and please keep me posted, Frank

  29. avatar

    The heatlamp is working great. I can’t believe how much water I have to add every day, but I’m dealing with it. We had 7 molts close together, then finally 2 more just a few days ago, so I am pretty sure we still have 9 young scorpions. One molt was not completely successful, the scorpion got out of the exoskeleton, but it was stuck on it’s claw. It walked around with that thing attached to its claw for a day or so. I didn’t want to mess with it for fear of hurting it. It finally fell off, but his claw is funky. I can’t tell if that part of the exoskeleton never fell off and it’s impeding it, or if his claw is mamed. This happened 2 months ago, and he does ok with one good claw. The claw looks like it is turned in on itself.

  30. avatar

    Hi Rebecca,

    Nice to hear from you, Thanks. Good you are keeping up on the water…no way around that,. unfortunately, when using any form of heat.

    It’s common for them to suffer molt-related problems as you describe, but they are quite resilient as you see; best to elave them be, as you did, as it’s not often possible to do much good. It may molt out successfully the next time.

  31. avatar

    Hello I just brought home my Asian forest scorp and it looks really large. The segmants on its back are very spaced apart, I’m not sure whatbthe sex is yet, I believe it is close to molting or pregnant. Also, I’m having trouble keeping the humidity up. I mist it, I have a wet towel over 3/4 of the lid, the substrate we bought is damp, but the humidity doesn’t go up..well it does when I put more water onto the towel..I just can’t seem to figure this out. Please help

  32. avatar

    Hello Victoria,

    Hard to say for sure that she is carrying young, but it could very well be. Be sure she has caves and hiding spots.. Dampening the substrate and covering most of the screening with plastic will help, as does increasing the misting. A small reptile humidifier can be used, but not usually necessary. Sphagnum moss and coconut husk hold water well…you can mix some into the substrate, but best not to disturb her much right now..perhaps just place some on surface, mix it in the future. Info on hygrometers: http://bit.ly/VMm4tI

    Enjoy and please keep me posted, Frank

  33. avatar

    Hey,

    My Emperor Scorpion had babies while I was away on Spring Break. I didn’t notice until a few days after I got back. She finally came out of her rock and was very then compared to when I left and there was a baby hiding behind her. I did not see any on her back and I went to the pet store and they told me to separate them into smaller containers so she doesn’t eat them. I separated the mother and took the 18 babies that were alive and put them 3 to a container with a little moist substrate. I put some pinheads in each container and put the containers in the same 10 gallon terrarium I have the mother in. The temperature in the cage hangs between 70-80 degrees. I turn the heat lamp up a little during the day and turn it down during the night. They do not seem to have eaten yet that I can tell. They are still white and a little smaller than an inch. They were not on the mothers back when I separated them and most were buried in the substrate under the rock. Am I doing anything wrong here? I just got her a few months ago and didn’t know she was pregnant. I do not want to stress the mom out anymore than I have and I’m hoping I didn’t separate the babies too early. I estimate it has been a week or so since she gave birth. I put the pinheads in right away and cannot tell if the babies are trying to eat them or not. Is there anything I should change?

  34. avatar

    Hello Adam,

    They usually remain on her back until first molt, when they darken in color; but captive females sometimes dislodge young early, and consume them. So it’s better that they are separated. They may not feed now..usually do not until first molt…females usually feed them, may take some time for them to start on their own, but they usually do; keep humid, as they do not regulate water loss well when young. Higher temps preferable….85-88; I wouldn’t let it drop below 80 if possible. Can set up in another terrarium, all together…complicates feeding, but extra space beneficial, lets them thermo-regulate, etc. Please let me know if you need more info, enjoy, Frank

  35. avatar

    Thanks! Most of them are eating and some are starting to get a little darker now. How often should I feed the babies? Some eat all the pinheads I put in by the next day and some have a couple still left in their container.

  36. avatar

    Hi Adam,

    My pleasure…Good to hear they are doing well. It’s typical to see differences in the amount of food eaten…if they are kept at 80-85 F , you can keep food in with them most of he time…however, this is not necessary, feeding 3-4 x week works well also; they are bale to adjust to varying amounts of food, within reason. enjoy and please keep me posted.

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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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