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Emperor Scorpion Care: Five Things New Scorpion Owners Should Know

Emperor scorpion

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Ladyb695

It is with good reason that the Emperor Scorpion (Pandinus imperator) is so popular among pet-keepers and arachnid fans.   One of the largest of the world’s 2000+ scorpions, the Emperor exhibits complex social behaviors, is generally mild-mannered, and breeds readily. However, one should not embark upon scorpion ownership without understanding the nature of these fascinating creatures, and their specific needs. Unrealistic expectations will dampen the experience of both pet and pet keeper. Following are 5 critical points that the prospective scorpion owner should consider.

 

Please see the linked articles and post below for detailed care and breeding advice.

 

Scorpions are “Hands-Off” Pets That Cannot be Tamed

Like most creatures, Emperor Scorpions are capable of learning, and of modifying their behavior in response to captive conditions. However, they are mainly guided by instinct, and cannot in any way be tamed, trained or “trusted” – they will not bond with people.

 

Please ignore the foolish advice and videos so common on the internet and do not handle your scorpion (please post below for info on safely moving or transporting scorpions). Handling is a stressful event for any scorpion, although this may not be apparent from its behavior. More importantly, while the venom produced by the Emperor Scorpion is not considered as dangerous to healthy adults, children, the elderly, and people with allergies or compromised immune systems may be at risk.

 

Deathstalker Scorpion

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Ester Inbar

Important Note: Certain scorpion species available in the trade (please see photo) are dangerous, and have caused fatalities. Most are difficult to identify, and are sold under a variety of common names. Please post below for details.

 

Emperor Scorpion Threat Display

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Mike Baird

Scorpions are Nocturnal and Secretive

Well-adjusted scorpions will emerge to hunt by day, but they will otherwise remain in hiding until nightfall. In the wild, Emperor Scorpions construct long burrow systems. Providing them the opportunity to do the same in your terrarium will enable you to see a variety of interesting behaviors – much more so than would be possible in bare enclosures. The scorpion terrarium should also be stocked with a variety of caves, cork bark sections and other hideaways. They will not thrive if forced to remain in the open.

 

Fortunately, red reptile night bulbs will enable you to observe your pets after dark.

 

Your “Single” Female may Surprise You with Youngsters

Female Emperor Scorpions sometimes give birth a year (or perhaps longer) after mating. As there’s no way to know if your female has mated in the past, you may find yourself with more scorpion-related responsibilities than you bargained for!

 

Female Emperors give birth to live young, and carry them about on their backs until the first molt. They are usually good mothers, and in many cases may be kept with the brood long-term. However, captive conditions can be a stress to them, and cannibalism is common. Please see the linked article and post below for further information on breeding.

 

t204477Scorpions Need Live Food

While many captives learn to take canned insects from tongs (do not hand-feed!), live insects will form the vast majority of your scorpion’s diet. Many have been raised on crickets alone, but the best long term results will be achieved by providing a varied menu to which roaches, waxworms, silkworms, grasshoppers and other insects have been added.

 

The “It Doesn’t Do Anything” Factor

Ideally, the new scorpion owner will be interested in her or his pet for its own sake. But most of us also wish to see how the animal lives, what it does, and so on. Well-fed scorpions that are not in breeding mode are often about as active as the infamous “pet rock”…and are nocturnal to boot!

 

Fortunately, red light bulbs now enable us to watch them after dark. If you provide your scorpion with a large terrarium and a deep substrate into which it can burrow, you’ll have much of interest to observe. Maintaining compatible groups (they are social in the wild) and, of course, breeding pairs, is also an exciting prospect.

 

 

Further Reading

Emperor Scorpion Care, Natural History and Breeding

Scorpions as Pets: Overview

Emperor Scorpion Care: The Best Supplies and Terrariums

Threat display

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Among the world’s 2,000+ scorpion species we find creatures of every conceivable size, description and lifestyle – some deadly, others which make interesting captives for mature keepers. I had the good fortune to work with many during my zoo career, and most of the supplies that I relied upon then are now readily available to hobbyists. The following article will assist you in preparing for scorpion ownership or adding to your supply of scorpion care items. Most of the information is applicable to a wide array of species…please post below for more specific information about the scorpions in your collection.

 

Scorpion Terrariums

Scorpions are best kept in aquariums topped by screen covers secured with cage clips or plastic terrariums with locking tops.   I favor deep or “extra-high”models for Emperor Scorpions and other burrowers, so that they can construct tunnels and caves.

 

t260271_2Hiding Spots

Caves and hideaways designed for reptiles make ideal scorpion retreats. Cork bark is also ideal, and very versatile. I like to bury cork bark slabs below the substrate – Emperors evacuate burrows to them and will create a complex underground habitat if given enough space.

 

Plants

Many scorpions do great in complex, planted terrariums. I often use Earth Stars (Cryptanthus), a common house plant that is very sturdy and thrives in low-light conditions. Please post below for information on other live plants that can be used in scorpion enclosures.

 

Comsobuthus sp. with young

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Fusion121

Substrate

A mix of coconut husk and peat moss or top soil works well for Emperor Scorpions other rainforest natives. For burrowers, add just enough water so that the substrate sticks together when squeezed…keeping it so will help to prevent tunnel walls from caving-in.

 

Scorpions that are native to arid habitats can be kept on a sand-gravel substrate.

 

Light

Red reptile night bulbs do not disturb scorpions and so will allow you to watch their nocturnal activities.

 

Heat

Most scorpions thrive at temperatures of 76-86 F (please post below for specific information, as needs vary among the different species).

 

 

Scorpion under black light

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Ladyb695

Red/black reptile night bulbs or ceramic reptile heaters can be used to warm the terrarium. Reptile heat pads and tapes should also be considered, but these often do little to heat the air. All heat sources will dry out the terrarium, so it is important to monitor humidity.

 

mediaHumidity

Proper humidity levels are critical to good health, normal activity and successful shedding. A hygrometer (humidity monitor) is an essential piece of equipment for the serious scorpion keeper. A reptile humidifier or mister will be useful in dry rooms; otherwise you can rely upon a hand-held mister.

 

Tropical forest species require humidity levels in the range of 75-85%, while those native to arid habitats do best at 40-50% humidity. Desert-dwelling scorpions spend much of their time in humid burrows, and should therefore be provided a cave stocked with damp sphagnum moss.

 

Food and Water

Most scorpions will thrive on a diet comprised of crickets, mealworms and earthworms. I’ve also offer wild-caught insects, roaches, waxworms, and other invertebrates as well, and believe this is key to the long-term health and breeding success of some species.

 

Canned grasshoppers and silkworms moved about with a long-handled forceps are an excellent source of dietary variety.

 

Scorpions obtain water from their prey, but should also be provided with a shallow water bowl.

 

Miscellaneous Supplies

Always use forceps to offer food, remove debris, re-arrange terrarium furnishings, and prod scorpions into carrying containers. Small nets should also be kept on hand.

 

Extra plastic terrariums can be used to isolate aggressive or injured individuals.

 

Super glue and petroleum jelly are sometimes useful in treating exoskeleton cracks and other injuries. Please see the cautions noted in the article linked below, and post below for information before attempting to care for an injured scorpion.

 

 

 

Further Reading

Treating Sick and Injured Scorpions

Scorpion Care Overview

Scorpions Surprise Biologists – New Scorpion Species near Tucson and In the Andes

Approximately 2,000 scorpion species have been described, but most arachnologists believe that many more await discovery.  Few, however, expected an unknown species to turn up within sight of a major city in the USA.  But that is what happened earlier this year, and the discovery was unusual for other reasons as well.  Another noteworthy new scorpion species surfaced in the Ecuadorean Andes, a little-studied region long suspected of being a diversity hotspot for scorpions.  New Arachnids of all kinds are regularly discovered…please post our own news items and thoughts at the end of this article.

Vaejovis sp.

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Acrocynus

A Unique Scorpion from Arizona’s “Sky Islands”

One never knows where new invertebrates will appear.  In 2000, a new centipede was found in NYC’s Central Park, of all places.  Still, the discovery of a sizable scorpion now known as Vaejovis brysoni was surprising on several levels.  The scorpion was discovered accidentally, in an area of the Santa Catalina Mountains that had been well-studied (6 new species have been found there since 2006), and within sight of Arizona’s capitol city of Tuscan (please see photo).

Also very surprising is the fact that the new scorpion’s habitat is considered by biologists to be a “sky island”.  Sky islands are mountain tops that have become isolated from nearby mountains that contain similar habitats and species.  The valleys between the mountain tops prevent scorpions and other animals from breeding with one another.  Over time, these isolated populations evolve into distinct species.  Oddly, another scorpion of the same genus is already resident on V. brysoni’s “sky island”.  This is the first time that closely related animals have been found on the same mountain in this region.  Learning how 2 similar species survive in close proximity to one another should provide interesting insights into scorpion evolution. Read More »

“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.

Read More »

Scorpions as Pets – an Overview of their Care

Buthus ScorpionHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  I can’t remember a time when scorpions did not fascinate me, and their lure grows stronger with each new species I encounter.  In the past, I’ve written on the care and natural history of Emperor, Flat Rock, Asian Forest and other popular scorpions.  Today I’d like to present a general overview.  I hope it will help you to decide if a scorpion is the right choice for you and if so, how to get started. 

What’s in Store for Scorpion Fans

Among the world’s 2,000+ scorpion species we find an astonishing diversity of fascinating creatures, many of which make hardy pets that adjust well to small enclosures.  Several reproduce readily in captivity – lucky scorpion keepers may even be treated to the sight of a female feeding her offspring with crickets!  At least 15 species are established in the pet trade, and specialists are working with several others. Read More »

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