Emperor scorpions (Pandinus imperator) are 6-7” long, nocturnal, terrestrial invertebrates native to west Africa. They prefer to live on the floor of tropical forests, where they hide inside animal burrows, under fallen leaves and branches, or inside termite mounds.
Emperor scorpions are a robust scorpion with massive, textured pincers and a glossy black body. When exposed to a blacklight, they fluoresce pale blue-green!
Emperor scorpions are a common beginner-level scorpion because of their tolerant dispositions, general hardiness, and mild venom. With good care, they generally have a lifespan of up to 8 years.
Minimum terrarium size for emperor scorpions
The minimum terrarium size for an emperor scorpion is generally no smaller than 20”L x 10”W x 12”H, or a 10 gallon tank. However, larger is better as long as the space is used well. The enclosure should have a secure, tightly-fitted lid, or else your scorpion may escape!
Housing multiple scorpions in the same terrarium is not recommended, and may result in cannibalism if attempted.
Do emperor scorpions need UVB?
No, but they do benefit from enough lighting to create a consistent day-night cycle. This can be done with a 6500K fluorescent or LED plant light. Aside from providing low-heat illumination, it is also essential for nourishing any live plants you are using for décor.
Lights should be on for 12 hours/day.
Best temperature for emperor scorpions
Emperor scorpions should be kept between 78-82°F. This is usually significantly warmer than room temperature, so to boost your temps, you will need to use a small heat mat stuck to the long side of the enclosure and connected to a thermostat set to 85-90°F to create a temperature gradient. Do not install the heat mat on the bottom of the enclosure!
Use a digital probe thermometer to keep track of enclosure temperatures.
Best humidity levels for emperor scorpions
As a tropical species, emperor scorpions require high humidity levels between 70-90%. One of the best ways to do this is keeping the substrate appropriately damp. Simply pour water in until it’s moist, but not saturated or swampy. However, most keepers prefer to simply mist the enclosure 1-2x/day with a spray bottle of water.
Keep track of ambient humidity levels with a digital probe hygrometer.
Best substrate for emperor scorpions
Emperor scorpions are enthusiastic burrowers, so it’s a good idea to offer them plenty of substrate as part of their setup. Pour in at least 5-6” of lightly packed substrate. We recommend the following substrates for emperor scorpions:
- Zoo Med Eco Earth
- Zoo Med ReptiSoil
- Exo Terra Plantation Soil
How to decorate an emperor scorpion terrarium
An empty terrarium can lead to a stressed scorpion, and it’s not much to look at, either. At bare minimum, you will need at least two hiding spots for the scorpion to use. However, you should also consider including other decorative items, such as:
- small logs and branches
- cork flats
- live or artificial plants
- artificial ornaments
What to feed to an emperor scorpion
Emperor scorpions are primarily insectivores, which means that they need to eat a variety of insects to get the right nutrition. Offer 3-4 crickets, mealworms, or an equivalently sized dubia roach once a week. Grasshoppers can also be used. For juveniles, never offer prey half to three-quarters the scorpion’s length.
Uneaten prey should be removed 24 hours after offering.
Of course, don’t forget a small water bowl for your scorpion to drink from! It should be too shallow for the scorpion to potentially drown in. Change the water dish daily and scrub it out with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly.
How to handle your emperor scorpion
Scorpions don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. That being said, emperor scorpions are more tolerant of humans than most. They are more likely to pinch than sting, and their mild venom usually only causes minor discomfort.
Although handling should not be frequent, when you want to handle your emperor scorpion, allow it to crawl onto your hand, and keep your movements slow. Handle them over a soft surface, like a bed or couch, to cushion them in case they fall.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!