The Emperor scorpion is becoming a popular pet for many reasons. They don’t need much space, are large and regal looking, and are one of the more docile scorpion species. In this emperor scorpion care sheet we’re going to learn about what’s involved in taking care of one of these pet arachnids.
These scorpions are typically glossy black. However, some can be greenish or dark brown. They rarely sting or pinch unless they feel threatened. Even when they sting, it’s not a major medical concern and is as painful as a bee sting. Since all scorpions have the capacity to sting, the fact that the Emperor scorpion rarely does and will choose to pinch, only if necessary, makes them a good species for beginner scorpion owners.
This article aims to help you become a caring Emperor scorpion owner so your pet can thrive. It will cover all the information you need to know, including their housing needs, diet, temperature requirements, habits, and more.
Emperor Scorpion Care Sheet
- Common name: Emperor Scorpion or Imperial Scorpion
- Scientific name: Pandinus imperator
- Range: West African rainforests and savannas
- Lifespan: 6 to 8 years
- Adult size: Average of 7 inches long
- Temperament: Are territorial, but mostly docile unless they feel threatened
One adult Emperor scorpion can live comfortably in a 10-gallon tank. If you are keeping more than one juvenile scorpion, 20 or 30 gallons is required. You don’t need to give them too much space, since this makes catching prey difficult.
Purchase a tank with plenty of ventilation and a secure, tight-fitting lid. Emperor scorpions are strong and are known to try and lift up lids. Most glass or plastic terrariums and aquariums are suitable for scorpions. Examples of products to house one Emperor scorpion include:
- REPTIZOO Glass Reptile Terrarium
- Acrylic Natural Cages Terrarium
- REPTI ZOO Glass Natural Cages Terrarium
Temperature and Lighting
Most Emperor scorpions are used to living in tropical forests and will need the temperature of their habitat maintained around 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also best to have one side of the tank warmer. You can purchase a heating mat and place it underneath the tank, covering no more than a third of the bottom. This way, your scorpion can move from cooler to warmer temperatures as they want.
Their habitat should also be high humidity to mimic the rainforests they are native to. Humidity levels should be at least 75%. You can maintain this by misting the tank daily with spring water or dechlorinated water. To check the temperature and humidity levels in the enclosure, consider purchasing a thermometer and a hygrometer.
Since Emperor scorpions are nocturnal, you don’t really need to add lighting to their tanks. They will typically hide during the day and don’t require ultraviolet (UVB) lights. It’s best to keep the tank away from direct sunlight. If you want to watch them being active at night, use infrared or nocturnal lights.
Diet and Feeding
In the wild, these scorpions eat various invertebrates and vertebrates, such as insects and small lizards. As pets, they need live insects and are happy to have a diet of mostly calcium-dusted, gut-loaded crickets and termites. Purchasing gut-loaded crickets from growers are better than insects from re-packers since these suppliers catch the crickets the day they ship them. You can also supplement with other insects such as moths and mealworms.
Since they are nocturnal, make sure to feed your Emperor scorpion at night when they come out to hunt for prey. You only need to feed them every few days or at least twice a week. Monitor how many crickets they eat to determine if you need to feed less or more frequently.
Make sure not to feed them when they are molting. They typically will not eat 5 to 10 days before a molt. After molting is complete, their exoskeletons are still vulnerable. Wait a few days for it to harden before feeding them again. When you do feed again, start with softer insects that won’t harm them.
These scorpions also drink lots of water, so make sure to include a water dish in their habitat. The water dish must be shallow and easy to access and get out of to prevent them from drowning.
The substrate in your tank should be between 3 and 6 inches deep so your scorpion can burrow. Common materials suitable for Emperor scorpions include:
- Coconut fiber
- Sterilized potting soil
- Cork bark
You can also cover some substrate areas with moss to help maintain humidity and moisture in the habitat. Avoid using substrates that are harsh for the scorpion’s skin, such as artificial turf or gravel.
During the day, remove any of the live uneaten food from the tank, especially crickets. These insects sometimes try to attack or disturb the scorpion when they are resting. Daily removal also helps you gauge how hungry your scorpion is at the time, especially to predict molting.
After your scorpion molts, you should also remove their old exoskeleton from the tank.
Clean and Disinfect Tank
Emperor scorpions are quite clean, so you don’t have to disinfect their tank as often as other reptiles. However, it would help if you cleaned at least once a month by:
- Removing old substrate
- Scrubbing and disinfecting the tank
- Washing it out and drying it
- Adding new substrate
Make sure to clean with arachnid-friendly disinfectants, such as the Zoo Med Wipe Out 1 Disinfectant.
While they are easy to care for, it’s not recommended to handle them unless necessary. They are more likely to pinch you with their front claws, called pedipalps than use their stinger. In fact, it is more harmful to the Emperor scorpion than to you if you handle them too often, since this can stress them out.
When you have to handle them, such as removing them to clean their cage, use long-handled forceps with foam covering the grips or padded flat-head tweezers. Gently pick up your scorpion by their stinging end. You can also coax them into a ventilated box to remove them for cleaning. If you want to place them in your hands, consider purchasing animal handling gloves for added protection.
Make sure never to handle your scorpion during a molt or immediately after. Their new exoskeletons are very delicate and you can cause them a lot of harm.
Other Things to Know
They are Territorial
Don’t house more than one male Emperor scorpion in one enclosure. They are very territorial and will fight each other, sometimes to the death! It is also best not to house them with any other species of animal.
Have a Hiding Den
Emperor scorpions molt by shedding their entire exoskeleton a few times before being fully grown. If you have young or growing scorpions, providing them with a hiding den can be useful for them to stay protected during molting. Adult scorpions also enjoy hiding in dens during the daytime.
Make sure to keep the hiding places away from any heat sources. If you have multiple scorpions in one enclosure, have enough hiding dens for each one to have their own.
Other Tank Items to Include
Add flat stones, logs, bark, and climbing decor so your pet scorpion can interact with their surroundings. You can also include additional hiding locations or plants that do well in humid and low-light conditions, such as earth stars or pothos plants
Emperor scorpions are known to move items in their home around. Try not to undo their arrangements since this can stress them out.
When you see your scorpion refusing to eat and their outer skin starts to crack and open up, they are probably preparing to molt. To help them during the molt, you can increase the humidity in the tank by misting more often. This softens their old skin and makes it easier for them to shed. You can also add a humidity box so your scorpion can select the dampness of the areas they want to hang out in.
Recognize Signs of Illness
While it is common for your Emperor scorpion to stop eating and slow down before molting, there are other signs to watch out for that indicate they are sick. These include:
- Increased weight loss
- Swollen limbs
- Abnormal feces
- Bumps, abrasions, or sores
- Discharge in their eyes or mouth
Most of the time, they are ill due to dehydration, and you should give them more water and mist more often. However, it is best to take your pet to the veterinarian to be checked if you suspect they are sick.
Emperor Scorpions as Pets
Overall, if you love insects or arachnids, Emperor scorpions can be a great pet option. They are clean animals, rarely sting, and can be kept in a small enough tank to fit in your home. Since they can live up to 8 years, make sure you are committed to taking care of a pet this long and are mindful of their eating and molting habits.
These scorpions are also easy to care for and docile compared to other scorpion species, so they are recommended pets for first-time scorpion owners. However, they aren’t the best pets for young children who might be tempted to grab them.