The emperor scorpion (Pandinus imperator) is one of the largest species of scorpion in the world. It is native to northwest and north central Africa; Togo and Ghana in particular. The hardy species may not be very good when it comes to handling―because of some obvious reasons, but it definitely scores in the maintenance department.
Care Sheet for Emperor Scorpion
Adult emperor scorpions can reach a size of about 8 inches in length, and are black in color with a green or brown hue. They have an impressive set of pedipalps or claws. The fact that they have a lifespan of 6 - 8 years also adds to their popularity in pet trade. If you intend to buy one, you will find them for sale in one of the numerous pet stores selling invertebrates. Though they are known to have a docile temperament, handling should be kept to a minimum.
In the wild, these scorpions are usually found in areas with high humidity, such as rainforests. They are also reported to survive in the wet savannas and near human dwellings. If you want to keep the species as a pet, you need to ensure that their captive habitat is as close to the one in the wild as possible. You should provide them plenty of places to hide. You can either keep an individual, or a group of emperor scorpions. If you opt for latter, it is better to have a large tank so as to ensure that each scorpion has his own personal space.
Glass aquariums are your best bet, but you should cover them with a tight lid or else the scorpion will escape. You can bring home a 10-gallon tank if you intend to keep an individual, and 20 or 30-gallon tank if you want to keep a group. Soil, peat, or vermiculite will make ideal substrate. About 3 to 6 inches of substrate should be added in the tank to help them dig burrows. You can add bark, stones, and even ceramic pots as hiding places. The moisture in the environment can be retained by adding sphagnum moss on the top.
The tank should have high humidity level, thus daily misting is a necessity. The substrate should be kept damp―and not wet. Condensation or mold on the tank walls indicates that the humidity level is too high. The temperature should be between 70 and 90º F. A temperature gradient will help the scorpion regulate its body temperature, and the best way to do provide it is to place a heating mat in the tank. The mat should cover only 1/3 of the tank area. The scorpions will be able to move to a cooler area, if necessary. As the species is nocturnal, UV lighting won't be necessary.
Emperor scorpions feed on a variety of invertebrates, like insects and arthropods, in the wild. They also love to snack on small lizards. If you keep the species as a pet, you can give it crickets, meal worms, and moths to eat. An adult should not be fed more than 3 to 6 crickets a week. Considering that it's a nocturnal species, the best time to feed it will be at night. Also make sure you provide your pet enough water for drinking; a shallow dish can be used for the same. Baby scorpions feed on pinhead crickets and other small insects.
You will find that these scorpions don't dirty their cages very often. But that doesn't mean you shirk off from your duty to clean the tank. You will have to clean it for left over food regularly, change the substrate, and disinfect it every 3 to 4 months. Excessive handling may stress the scorpion, and therefore, you need to hold them by their stinging side using long-handled forceps with foam grips when cleaning their cage.
While that was about caring for this species, your own safety―or that of your family―is equally important. Even though it is not very dangerous or life-threatening, the emperor scorpion's sting can be extremely painful― just like a bee sting―and some people even develop an anaphylactic reaction to its venom. So, you need to be extremely careful if you are keeping this species of scorpion as a pet.