Emperor Scorpions as Pets
Scorpions have a fascination all of their own – and whether you’re just starting out or have years of experience with these distinctive and ancient animals, the Emperor Scorpion is one of the best species to keep.
Impressive AppearanceOriginating in the tropical forests of West Africa, the Emperor or Imperial Scorpion (Pandinus imperator) is an impressive looking creature, with well-developed pedipalps – its “pincers” – and a robust, dark black body.
At a length of around 15cm (6 inches), this is one of the largest scorpions in the world but despite its imposing appearance and a prominent tail which is often held curving over its back, in the typically iconic way of its kind, the Emperor Scorpion is surprisingly inoffensive. Generally a very even-tempered animal, if you do happen to be stung, the sting is only about as dangerous as a bee’s – a little painful certainly, but hardly likely to cause most people much harm.
Housing Your Emperor ScorpionOne of the absolutely key requirements for any scorpion tank is a good lid! Despite their lumbering and heavy-bodied appearance, Emperor Scorpions can show a remarkable flair for escapology if the opportunity arises and few people – however tolerant – will welcome finding one of these chaps unexpectedly scuttling around their bedroom!
There are plenty of suitable scorpion homes on the market, from purpose-made tanks with integral ventilated lids, to appropriately sized food containers with a series of holes drilled to allow the air in. Add some sphagnum moss, compost or bark chippings to recreate the natural home of your forest-dwelling Emperor – and don’t forget to include some pieces of cork bark or similar hiding places for this nocturnal animal to sit under during the day.
Scorpion CareEmperor Scorpions need to be kept at around 25 degrees C (77F), which means some form of heating is necessary to keep the temperature – and humidity – up to their requirements. Heat mats are ideal, but it’s important to make sure that they only extend under part of the tank, since in the wild, scorpions burrow to escape excessive heat. Obviously if the whole of the tank floor is being heated from underneath, their best attempts to stay cool will be doomed to failure from the outset – with potentially disastrous results!
Humidity levels are important for forest scorpions like the Emperor, although it’s not so critical as it is for tarantulas. Adding a small water dish and occasionally misting the floor and tank with a fine plant sprayer should keep things to the animal’s liking – but keep an eye out for any signs of mould or fungus and change the floor material at once if it starts to rot or smell bad.
Feeding Emperor ScorpionsFeeding exotic pets can sometimes be a bit of a worry – especially with those species which have reputations for being a bit “picky.” Fortunately this is seldom a problem with Emperor Scorpions which generally have reassuringly good appetites and can normally be expected to feed very well. These active predators will happily eat any appropriately-sized prey and for the most part, this means locusts, crickets and as many wild-caught creepy crawlies as you can find.
Feeding them after dark fits in best with their natural habits and it’s often a good idea, especially with newly bought scorpions, to leave them alone once you’ve added the food, since they are naturally secretive and tend to prefer to eat in private. However, it’s important to keep a careful track of how well your pets are eating; a loss of appetite can often be the first – and sometimes only – sign that they are not well.
Scorpions have a unique appeal – not least because nothing else looks quite like them – and if you’re a fan, then the Emperor Scorpion is just about everything you could want. Large and impressive, its undemanding needs and robust appearance, coupled with its long potential lifespan, has made this particular example of its kind a firm favourite with generations of exotic pet keepers – and its appeal isn’t likely to wane soon!