Emperor Scorpions ( Pandinus imperator )
About the Emperor Scorpion.
Due to its size and jet black appearance, the Emperor Scorpion is the most recognised scorpion in the world. It is most commonly found in the tropical rainforests of West Africa, especially Ghana and Togo. The Emperor Scorpion lifespan averages between 6 - 8 years and some can surpass a decade, so before buying one it is important that you are aware of the commitment you are making. They are mostly nocturnal creatures and will therefore be more commonly active at night.
Emperor Scorpions as pets.
Emperor Scorpions are probably the most popular species of scorpion kept as a pet because they are quiet, clean and, as exotic pets go, easy to look after. They have a docile temperament and although handling of any scorpion is not encouraged, they are generally considered safe to hold. Although they are venomous, to humans the sting would be no worse than that of a bee, in that it would be painful but medical attention would not usually be required. Of course some people may be allergic or more sensitive to the venom (as people are with bees), therefore it is always worth taking into consideration the risks before handling. Having said that, the sting is very rarely used unless the female is either pregnant or carrying her young.
How to care for Emperor Scorpions.
Glass tanks are, in my opinion, the best to use for keeping any scorpion. A 10 gallon tank is satisfactory for a single scorpion, however a group will require at least twice that space. Since they are generally from warm and tropical climates, they require a certain level of humidity (between 70-85%) to be recreated in order to stay healthy and active. This is maintained by lightly spraying the enclosure with water each day and ensuring the temperature stays between 25 - 30C. If you notice any mould on the substrate of that there is condensation on the glass then the humidity is too high and you should reduce the amount of water you spray accordingly. The best way to provide heat is to use a heat mat, it shouldn’t cover more than a third of the tank, this way the scorpion can move between warmer and cooler temperatures if desired. They do not require a ultra-violet light, in fact direct exposure will cause stress and ultimately death. They prefer a standard light-to-dark cycle, with the dark period lasting slightly longer. Like most species of scorpion they often burrow and it is important to include hides and such things as flat stones and pieces of bark in their enclosure. The most common substrate used by owners is potting soil, with either a layer of peat moss or bark chipping covering the surface. The moss will also help in retaining the moisture in the enclosure.
What do Emperor Scorpions eat?
The diet of an Emperor Scorpion is much the same as most exotic pets, when they are young they will eat pinhead crickets and other small insects. Adult Emperor Scorpions will eat crickets, meal worms, other large insects such as cockroaches and occasionally a pinky mouse. They get most of the water they need from their food however a very shallow water dish is always a good idea to ensure they have the proper hydration available to them. To properly recreate their natural life as it is in the wild, feeding should occur when it is dark. Emperor Scorpions will usually eat 3 – 4 times a week, however it is not unusual for them to show no appetite for months at a time. A lot of factors can contribute to this, sometimes it can be due to unhappiness with their environment or the conditions in their enclosure.
How big do Emperor Scorpions grow?
A fully grown adult Emperor Scorpion will on average measure 6 inches, this measurement is taken in their natural state (ie. Not with the pincers or tail extended), they are one of the largest species of scorpion, being surpassed only by the Heterometrus swammerdami.
Breeding Emperor Scorpions.
The mating process between a male and female Emperor Scorpion, like in all species of scorpion, is something of a natural wonder. They perform a ‘mating dance’ which can last more than a day, depending on the male’s ability to successfully transfer his spermatophore. Sexual maturity is usually reached at around the age of 4 in the wild, however in captivity this is accelerated and an Emperor Scorpion can be ready to breed by the time they are just a year old.
Scorpions are viviparous meaning they give birth to live young rather than eggs. Baby Emperor Scorpions are born pure white and will gradually darken with each molt (when they shed their exoskeleton) until they are completely black. When they are born they will climb onto their mother’s back and remain there until at least their first molt, When first born they are pretty helpless and unable to regulate their own humidity or temperature requirements, therefore they rely on their mother for both this and protection. Despite the strong maternal instincts that mother Emperor Scorpions demonstrate, they can eat their own young if they sense any weakness or deformities, this can also occur if the mother is overly stressed. On average adulthood will be reached after 6 – 7 molts.