Emperor Scorpions are generally considered to be the best choice for first time scorpion keepers as they are widely available, not very dangerous to humans and not too difficult to care for.
This Emperor Scorpion care sheet includes all the information you should need to keep a pet Emperor Scorpion, but there are a couple of books that we suggest every scorpion owner should have in his/her library: Scorpions (Complete Pet Owner’s Manual) and Arachnomania: The General Care and Maintenance of Tarantulas and Scorpions.
Emperor Scorpion Size
This is one of the largest scorpion species in the world, with a maximum length of anywhere from 6″-8″. They’re impressive creatures, but luckily in this case size is not proportionate to potency.
Emperor Scorpion Lifespan
An Emperor Scorpion should live for at least six years if it is well looked after, and may sometimes live on for a couple of years beyond this. This means that Emperor Scorpions require a fairly long term commitment, but not exceptionally long.
Emperor Scorpion Housing
A single Emperor Scorpion can live very happily in nothing larger than a 10 gallon glass aquarium tank, but if you have two or three living together (see below), you’ll need a tank with a volume of at least 20 gallons. There is always a trade off with these creatures between providing lots of space for them to roam and making it too hard for them to catch their prey if the tank is too large. Regardless of which tank you choose, it should ideally be placed in a quiet area of the house where they won’t be subject to high levels of disturbance or noise.
The ideal substrate for these scorpions is much debated, but we recommend either Jungle Bed or Eco Earth, although there are many other options available. The important thing is that your chosen substrate is at least 5″ deep and is capable of supporting the burrows that your pet will dig, which is why we would advise against using standard groundcover bark chippings. Both Jungle Bed and Eco Earth hold moisture well, but if the enclosure starts to dry out too quickly, you can always add a little sphagnum moss on top to increase the humidity.
The tank should always include a few places for your scorpion to hide, which can be achieved using flat stones, bits of bark, old toilet paper tubes or commercially available hides designed for small reptiles.
Adding plants to the tank will not only look good but also help to replicate an Emperor Scorpion’s natural environment. Some owners will only use plastic plants, but the real thing is nicer and requires very little extra work. Vivarium plants that are designated as being safe for reptiles are recommended.
Emperor Scorpions need high humidity to stay healthy. The substrates mentioned above will help with this, but the tank should still be misted on a daily basis. As a general rule of thumb, it’s only too humid if condensation appears on the inside of the tank or if you find mold on the substrate – it should be damp, not wet.
A hygrometer is recommended to keep an eye on humidity levels.
Around 80F is the ideal temperature for an Emperor Scorpion, but varying this by 15F or so shouldn’t cause any problems. Some people believe their scorpions are happier when exposed to a variety of temperatures over time, as they would be in their natural environment. Regulating temperature is best achieved with a heat mat, which should cover less than half of the tank in order to provide a sufficient temperature gradient to allow your scorpion to regulate its own body temperature.
Using a good thermometer to closely monitor the temperature inside the tank is recommended, especially during summer. If the temperature climbs above 100F for any length of time you risk seriously harming or even killing your scorpion.
UVA/UVB lights are not needed for Emperor Scorpions due to their nocturnal habits, but, as with all scorpion species, it’s worth buying a UV flashlight just to see your pet glow in the dark! However, exposing your pet to UV light for long periods of time (some people leave their black lights on 24/7 to enjoy the effect) may actually be harmful and should be avoided.
Natural light is normally sufficient, but a more realistic day-night balance can be provided with a low wattage white bulb switched off for a little bit longer than it’s switched on.
Emperor Scorpion Diet
Gut-loaded crickets are the best staple food for captive Emperor Scorpions, with the occasional moth, cockroach or mealworm thrown in to spice things up a bit. Food should be added to the tank at night, and should be given live (Emperor Scorpions won’t take dead insects).
Even an adult Emperor will rarely require more than four or five crickets per week, and the food can be given all in one go, once per week, or spaced out and given every couple of days (or anything in between).
Emperor Scorpion Water
While a humid tank helps, Emperor Scorpions do still need to drink. They are however susceptible to drowning, so they should be provided with a low, shallow water dish.
Keeping Multiple Emperor Scorpions
It’s not exactly unknown for this species to cannibalize in the wild, so housing several Emperor Scorpions together is always a risk. There should definitely be more hides than scorpions, and they should be given plenty of space (a 20 gallon tank for two scorpions or a 30 gallon tank for three or four). Your scorpions should be separated at the first sign of aggression or else you risk losing one of your pets. Unfortunately providing a surplus of food is not a guarantee of safety – some Emperors will simply not tolerate any other scorpions in their tank.
Handling Emperor Scorpions
Proceed with caution! While an Emperor Scorpion sting will rarely cause more of a reaction than a bee sting, a small minority of people will be allergic and suffer from reactions that may be as severe as anaphylactic shock. It’s better if you never have to find out whether or not you’re one of those unlucky people! Being pinched by an adult Emperor Scorpion’s pedipalps (pincers) is also painful, but it’s highly unlikely to do you any serious harm, and this species tends to be relatively docile anyway.
Being handled is also stressful to the scorpion, so handling should be kept to a minimum, more for the sake of the scorpion than for your own safety. When it is unavoidable (if you need to separate scorpions or clean their tank, for example), forceps with something soft over the grips are the recommended solution. Pick your scorpion up by the stinging end and keep it far enough away from you that it can neither sting nor pinch you and you’ll be fine.
Be sure to bookmark this Emperor Scorpion care sheet so you can easily find it and refer to it in future! 🙂