Asian Forest Scorpion Care
The genus Heterometrus contains approximately 33 different species of scorpion, which are collectively known as Asian forest scorpions. They are large (some of the largest scorpions in the world are part of this group), up to 13cm, shiny black – often with a bluish tinge – and have a rather more feisty outlook on life than the very similar Emperor scorpion. Although they can be kept in groups it’s not recommended as they are aggressive enough toward each other that fighting or cannibalism is very likely. Care is the same for all of the different Heterometrus species.
Generally, Asian forest scorpions live on the surface of the substrate underneath logs, rocks and other decor but will sometimes burrow. If they do, then they need a fairly deep substrate in order to be able to build and maintain their burrows. There are several different soil based substrates on the market that will hold a burrow, and one of these should be used. Keep one side slightly more damp than the other so that your scorpions have a humidity gradient. Heating can be provided either with over tank heat bulbs such as deep heat projectors on a thermostat or with heat mats; if using mats, these must be attached to the side of the terrarium instead of underneath as scorpions will burrow if they are too warm, and run the risk of overheating if the heat source is underneath. Any artificial heat source should be monitored with a good quality digital thermometer.
Housing size depends on several factors. If keeping a lone scorpion then the housing should be at least 20cmx40cm to give them enough room to move around once fully grown. Allow quite a bit of extra space if keeping several, remembering to make sure that there is a good depth of substrate as well as lots of decor to hide under. They can be kept in bioactive systems with live plants, although caution should be used when choosing isopods, as they have been known to nibble on scorpions to use the calcium for their own shells. If using live plants then extra lighting will be necessary to keep the plants alive, so make sure that your scorpions have plenty of cover as well as substrate for their burrows. Live plants, deep soil and a good thick layer of leaf litter will give your scorpion a very natural looking home!
Feeding is simple. In the wild Asian forest scorpions will eat any arthropod, insect or even other scorpion that wanders by their burrow, but in captivity will eat any of the commonly available feeder insects which do not need to be dusted with supplements but should always be gut loaded. A varied diet of locusts, crickets, cockroaches, mealworms and even the odd waxworm will keep your scorpion happy and healthy. They are not big eaters; two or three feeder insects a week should be enough to keep them in top condition. If they immediately race to eat the prey when it is introduced then increase feeding frequency or prey size, and if they seem reluctant or refuse to eat then leave slightly longer between feedings. Any prey item still running around the habitat the morning after feeding should be removed.
Scorpions, much to many people’s surprise, make excellent mothers! After mating they are pregnant for seven to nine months, and give birth to perfect little miniatures of themselves. These ‘scorplings’ ride on their mothers back until their first full moult when they climb off and disperse to begin independent lives of their own.
These scorpions can be quite confident, and although they will hide away during the day they can often be seen patrolling their enclosure at night. The use of a blacklight will enable you to observe the way that scorpions fluoresce – they glow green in the dark! These lights don’t appear to bother the scorpion, but should only be used for observation rather than left on long term. Asian forest scorpions are quick to assume a defensive position when disturbed, but are far more likely to pinch with their very large pedipalps than they are to use their sting. They can sting, though, although the venom is not particularly potent; it’s often compared to a bee sting, so if you are allergic to bee or wasp stings it’s probably worth keeping a different kind of pet.