Emperor Scorpion Care
The Emperor Scorpion (Pandinus imperator) was for many decades the commonest scorpion by far within the pet trade. It is impressively large – up to 20cm (7.8”) and achieving a weight of 30g – glossy black, with intimidating looks but very simple to provide for as well as having a generally good natured temperament. Due to a combination of over collecting and habitat loss the export of wild specimens was banned in 2013, making them much less common as pets. However, many more are now being captive bred so the species is making a comeback as a pet.
This species makes a really good pet for several reasons. In the wild they are found in a vast range of habitats, from wet rainforests to dry savannah, which means that they are tolerant of lots of different conditions and are adaptable. Although they do have a venomous sting – as all scorpions do – the toxin itself is no more harmful than a bee sting. However, if you are allergic to bee stings it would probably be a good idea to keep a different type of pet!
Emperor scorpions can be kept in groups if given plenty of space and lots of food, and need a fairly deep substrate in order to be able to build 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.
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 extra space if keeping several, remembering to make sure that there is a good depth of substrate as well as 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 emperor 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 emperor 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.
Emperor scorpions are, without a doubt, the best species to begin your scorpion keeping career. Large and impressive they are also accommodating and calm – what’s not to love?