Basic Care: Emperor Scorpion
The Emperor scorpion, Pandinus imperatoris, is gaining popularity as a pet. Originating in African forests, Emperor scorpions are relatively docile and typically do no show signs of aggression unless threatened.
Tank Set up
The minimum tank size should be the equivalent to a 10 gallon tank (20”L x 10” W x 12” H). There are arguments for and against larger tanks, but too large an enclosure can make it difficult for them to catch their prey. What ever size you elect a secure lid is required. Scorpions are capable of squeezing through very tight spaces. Recommended substrates include coconut fiber, reptile bark or sphagnum moss. Substrate should be at least 2-4 inches deep to allow for burrowing and humidity regulation. The temperature gradient should range from 78-90F from one end of the tank to the other. Humidity within the enclosure needs to be maintained between 60-80%. Both should be monitored from using a thermometer and hygrometer. Scorpions do not require UVB light but do require an 12 hour day/night cycle. As they are nocturnal it is recommended to use nocturnal or infrared light to view them at night. Tank décor can include structures for climbing and areas for hiding. This can be achieved using branches, longs and non-toxic plants.
Cleaning the Tank
It is recommended to fully clean and disinfect your tank once a month, or more often if there are signs of mold or malodor. Your scorpion should be placed in a secure container for cleaning. We recommend the use of atraumatic forceps, gloves, and a small tupperware container with a lid. Once secured, the tank and furnishings should be cleaned with 3% bleach solution or reptile habitat cleaner. Tank should be rinsed with water and allowed to dry until there is no remaining odor. Then replace the substrate, plants and any furnishings.
Food and Water
Emperor Scorpions are obligate insectivores. They should be offered a variety of insects to ensure appropriate nutrition. These can include 3-4 gut loaded crickets, dubia roaches, hornworms, waxworms, super worms and meal worms. Crickets should be gut loaded within the 48 hours prior to feeding to ensure adequate calcium. As scorpions are nocturnal we recommend feeding at night to encourage normal behaviors. Typically, juveniles will require smaller pery that is fed every day. Once they are adults can be fed once every 48 hours. It is recommended to remove any uneaten prey the next morning. It is not recommended to feed scorpions when they are molting, as they are venerable when their shell is softer. Water should be always provided in a shallow bowl and changed daily.
When to seek veterinary care:
We recommend yearly wellness visits just like all pets. Reasons you should seek veterinary attention include reduced to absent appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss, changes in color or wounds to the exoskeleton or accidental intoxication with household insecticides. Exoskeleton Injuries are considered an emergency as breaches in the exoskeleton can lead to dehydration and desiccation quickly. If you have any questions about if your pet should be seen please contact us to schedule an appointment.
Emperor Scorpions are capable of learning and of modifying their behavior in response to captive conditions. However, they are still guided by instinct, and cannot be tamed and they will not bond with people. 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. For these reasons we do not recommend frequent handling without protection.
Chiariello, T. M. (2017). Veterinary Care of Scorpions. Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine, 26(2), 114–122.