Tailless whip scorpions (order Amblypygi) are 4-10” diameter, arboreal, nocturnal invertebrates that can be found all over the world. They generally prefer tropical environments, but they are also known to inhabit certain semi-arid parts of the United States.
There are over 150 known species under Amblypygi, so exact size and appearance varies. However, all tailless whip scorpions have a broad, flattened body, a solid carapace, segmented abdomen, eight eyes, and eight legs. The front two legs are used for sensation rather than walking, and these creatures walk sideways like crabs. Males have longer pedipalps than females.
Although there are many different species of tailless whip scorpion (also sometimes called whip spiders), among the most common in the pet trade are Charinus pescotti, Damon diadema, Damon medius, Damon variegatus, Phrynus marginemaculatus. With good care, these intermediate-level invertebrates can live 10-20 years, with males having significantly shorter lifespans than females.
Minimum terrarium size for tailless whip scorpions
The general rule with housing tailless whip scorpions is that the enclosure length, width, and height should each be at least twice that of the whip scorpion’s diameter. For example, if you have a tailless whip scorpion expected to grow 6” across, then the enclosure must be no smaller than 12”L x 12”W x 12”H. 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! It’s best that the enclosure has a mesh top for both ventilation and facilitating proper molting.
Housing multiple tailless whip scorpions in the same terrarium can be done, but is not required for their wellbeing. The minimum enclosure size must be increased for each additional animal.
Do tailless whip scorpions need UVB?
No, but they may 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 tailless whip scorpions
Tailless whip scorpions should generally be kept between 65-77°F, but if you have a semi-arid species then a low basking spot will need to be provided.
To provide a “basking spot” for your tailless whip scorpion, use a Zoo Med Nano Dome Lamp Fixture with a low-wattage heat bulb like the 25w Zoo Med Nano Basking Spot or similar. Place this on the extreme left or right of the enclosure. Do not place the lamp on top of the mesh, as this can burn your pet if it chooses to climb on the mesh. Instead, suspend the lamp from a Zoo Med Reptile Lamp Stand or similar. The heat lamp should be turned off every night.
Use a digital probe thermometer to keep track of enclosure temperatures.
Best humidity levels for tailless whip scorpions
As a generally tropical group, tailless whip 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. Distilled water is better to use than tap water.
Semi-arid tailless whip scorpions can be kept at 65-75% instead, with drier substrate and less frequent misting. They are still vulnerable to drying out, however!
Keep track of ambient humidity levels with a digital probe hygrometer.
Best substrate for tailless whip scorpions
Tailless whip scorpions don’t burrow, but the right substrate is important to helping maintain humidity. Pour in at least 2” of lightly packed substrate. We recommend the following substrates for tailless whip scorpions:
- Zoo Med Eco Earth
- Zoo Med ReptiSoil
- Exo Terra Plantation Soil
Substrate should be replaced every other month. Setting up a bioactive environment complete with a clean-up crew, live plants, and plant lighting can be a helpful way to reduce the frequency of cleanings and decrease stress for your pet.
How to decorate a tailless whip scorpion terrarium
An empty terrarium can lead to a stressed animal, and it’s not much to look at, either. At bare minimum, you will need some vertically-placed cork flats for your pet to climb and hide between. However, you should also consider including other decorative items, such as:
- small logs and branches
- live or artificial plants
- artificial ornaments
Take care that all décor is well-secured so it can’t accidentally fall on top of your pet!
What to feed to a tailless whip scorpion
Tailless whip scorpions are primarily insectivores, which means that they need to eat a variety of insects to get the right nutrition. Crickets, dubia nymphs, and discoid nymphs are generally among the best choices.
Tailless whip scorpions should be fed 1x/week, and each meal should be roughly 1/4 the size of the body. Uneaten prey should be removed 24 hours after offering so it doesn’t harass your pet.
Of course, don’t forget a small water bowl for your tailless whip scorpion to drink from! It should be too shallow for the animal to potentially drown in. Change the water dish daily and scrub it out with an invertebrate-safe disinfectant weekly.
How to handle your tailless whip scorpion
As a general rule, invertebrates are “look-but-don’t-touch” pets: fun to watch, but not to be handled regularly. This holds true for the tailless whip scorpion, as they are fast and very delicate, which means it’s easy to accidentally injure your pet.
If you need to move your tailless whip scorpion, avoid disturbing them within 7-10 days after a molt, as they’re very soft after molting, and get injured even more easily during this time. To move your pet, coax it onto a piece of bark or into a plastic container.
*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!
"Tailless Whip Scorpion" by Destinys Agent is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0