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).
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.
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.
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.
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Thanks, until next time,