(Pandinus imperator)


Keeping arachnids and other Invertebrates as pets is growing in popularity. These animals typically require less care than other pets, take up very little space, and are relatively inexpensive to maintain. As their popularity has increased, so has the number of different invertebrate species that are available in the pet trade. In the early days, our invertebrate selection was limited to maybe 3 different Tarantulas and a single species of Scorpion. We now sell countless different Tarantula species, a variety of Mantids, Centipedes, and Millipedes, and a number of interesting Scorpion species, but we haven’t forgotten the creatures that generated our initial interest in these fantastic animals. So this month we are celebrating an oldie but a goodie, and are excited to name the Emperor Scorpion (Pandinus imperator) as our November Animal of the Month.

The Emperor Scorpion is a large scorpion species native to Western Africa. It is considered a rainforest species, but emperors are present on the West African Savannah as well. Like all other scorpions, they are nocturnal animals and spend daytime hours hiding in burrows, or beneath rocks, leaf litter, and other debris. Tiny sensory hairs on their pinchers and tail give them the ability to detect vibrations in the air and on the ground, making them well equipped for nighttime hunting.

One fascinating characteristic of all scorpions, and emperors are no exception, is the fact that they fluoresce, or “glow” under ultraviolet light. This bluish-green glow is the result of UV light being absorbed and converted into fluorescent light by proteins present in the exoskeleton. This layer is so tough and long lasting that even fossilized scorpion remains fluoresce under UV light! In the wild, natural moonlight causes this effect, but it can also be produced by exposing scorpions to an electric black light. The exact purpose this fluorescence serves is not understood, but there are a number of interesting scientific theories, including: protection from sunlight, confusing prey animals, help in finding mates, helping the animal determine whether or not to come to the surface to hunt, and that it may just be a random act of evolution. Whatever the reason, it’s just another reason we love these amazing animals!

Like nearly all other Arachnids, they have 8 legs and a secondary pair of specialized appendages called pedipalps. For Scorpions, these pedipalps are equipped with claws, and Emperor Scorpions possess a particularly impressive pair. Emperors use their large and powerful claws to hunt and secure prey and to defend against predators, but that’s not their only weapon. Scorpions also have another weapon at their disposal. Emperors and all other Scorpions are equipped with an agile tail, tipped with a venom-injecting barb, or stinger. Juveniles, with smaller, weaker claws, rely far more heavily on these stingers for both defense and hunting than do adults, which are more likely to pinch than they are to sting.

Scales ‘N Tails highly recommends Emperor Scorpions as we believe that make great pets for beginners and experts alike. They require little space and are very hardy in captivity. The species is also known to be very docile, and the sting from an Emperor is pretty harmless to humans. (We should also note that some people may have an allergic reaction to Emperor Scorpion venom, just as they would a bee sting.)Whether allergic or not, handling is not recommended as their sting can be painful, and it subjects the scorpion to undue stress.


Like many Arachnids, caring for a pet Emperor Scorpions relatively simple. We recommend keeping a single adult in a 10-gallon glass aquarium. It is also possible to house small groups together, which is not the case for other scorpions, but a larger enclosure, outfitted with multiple hide spots, must be provided. Eco Earth Coconut Bedding or a quality invertebrate soil should be used as a substrate.Whatever substrate is used, provide enough for your scorpion to burrow into it. Depending on the animal’s size, 3” to 6” should be plenty. The bedding should be sprayed with water as often as necessary to keep it damp, but not soaked. A water dish, shallow enough to prevent drowning, should also be provided, and clean water should be made available at all times. Zoo Med’s ReptiRock Food Dishes make perfect water dishes for Scorpions.

For a single emperor, at least one hide spot should be provided. (Offer multiple hide options if keeping a group of Emperors in a single enclosure.)We prefer to use pieces of Cork Bark for our scorpions as they are very lightweight and well suited for humid environments. Other items, like live or artificial plants and/or decorative cage statues, can be added to create an environment that is more attractive and interesting for both animal and owner. (Note that if your scorpion decides to move its furnishings around, it is best to refrain from moving them back to their original positions.This is what the animal has decided is most comfortable, and continuously rearranging the environment can be a source of unnecessary stress.)

Temperatures should be kept between 76-90 degrees, so providing a supplemental heat source will be necessary. Both incandescent heat bulbs and under tank heating pads work well for scorpions, just make sure to place the heat source off to a far side of the cage in order to maintain a good temperature gradient within the enclosure. Ideal humidity is around 75%, which can be achieved by simply wetting (not soaking) the substrate, evaporation will take care of the rest.

Once it’s environmental needs have been met, all that’s left is properly feeding your Emperor Scorpion.Appropriately sized Dubia Roaches or Crickets are the ideal food source and should be offered every few days. Try to feed at night time, after any light sources have been turned off, to best replicate the scorpion’s natural hunting conditions.

If you provide the right environment for your Emperor Scorpion, then you’ll be able to enjoy your pet for a long time.This species can live 6-8 years in captivity.

Finally, we wouldn’t be doing our Animal of the Month justice if we didn’t make it an affordable pet option. So for the month of November, while supplies last, we will have beautiful adult Emperor Scorpions available for $34.99!