Emperor Scorpions and You: What You Need to Know

12th May 2015

As far as pets go, there are two types of owners: the first are ones who want a cute, fuzzy pet with which they can cuddle and play. The other type prefers to admire their pet, typically from behind glass. These are the people who own tarantulas, snakes, lizards, and, in this case, scorpions. This isn’t to say that these people don’t touch or fondle their pets, but usually it’s with a quiet reverence rather than rambunctious revelry.

When it comes to arthropods, scorpions are certainly more of the “look, don’t touch variety”. With pincers and a nasty stinger, these creatures seem more likely to attack you as soon as look at you. Pandinus Imperator, the Emperor Scorpion, truly looks the part, with a shiny black shell and massive claws, it looks exactly how you picture a scorpion to look. Fortunately though, Imperator seems to rely mostly on its appearance for intimidation, as it’s a fairly docile animal. This is an excellent choice for beginners. Despite its demeanor, however, handling isn’t recommended, as it can be stressful for the scorpion. Below we’ll discuss the proper methods of taking care of these silent, but deadly creatures.


Identified in 1842 by German Entomologist C.L. Koch, the Emperor Scorpion is native to West Africa. As such, it thrives in a warm, humid environment. Scorpions are, by nature, burrowers, so it is best to provide plenty of materials (called substrate) into which they can dig. Ideally this would measure between 4 and 6 inches deep.

Your cage should be relatively long, as this species likes to roam around. It doesn't have to be very high, as they only spend their time on the ground and don’t like to climb. A 10-gallon terrarium should suffice for a single scorpion, with a tight fitting wire mesh cover. Rocks, logs, and other debris should be included as well to give the scorpion plenty of hiding places, especially when it’s stalking its prey. Your scorpion will adjust and move the debris to its liking, so don’t be surprised if things move around.


Since it’s native to Africa, keeping the temperature between 76 and 86 degrees is ideal. Like most arthropods, scorpions move around from hot areas to cool, so the enclosure shouldn’t have a uniform temperature, but fluctuate between warm and warmer. To create this effect, you should use a heating pad under about ⅓ of the tank. Heat lamps are not necessary, nor should any type of lighting be used, as it will create stress for the scorpion by having eternal light.


When it comes to keeping carnivorous pets, part of the appeal is watching them feed. There is a certain innate bloodlust in each of us that gets a thrill watching a predator take down its prey. When it comes to scorpions, some feeders will opt to give them warm blooded offerings such as mice. However, with this species it’s best to stick to insects, as this better mimics the scorpions natural diet.

While you can use crickets or other “feeder” insects, if you can, use  Dubia Roaches. These are perfect for scorpions and other carnivorous arachnids due to their high nutrition, variable size, and their docility. You can keep the roaches alive separately as they won’t infest your home or become a problem, and then feed your Scorpion whenever you want (or, more accurately, whenever it wants).

It’s also important to note that scorpions do not eat all the time, so only feed it about once a week or so. If it doesn’t feed, it may not be hungry, it may be molting, or it may indicate that the tank’s temperature is out of balance.


While scorpions are not messy animals, it’s important to clean out any food remains, and to fully clean the tank every few months to avoid any problems. Be sure to use an arachnid friendly cleaner. Additionally, when it comes time to remove the scorpion for cleaning, you can either pick it up by the stinger with your hands or with forceps that have foam attached. You don’t want to grip too hard, either, since the tail can be crushed or separate if held too tight.

Multiple Scorpions

The image of a scorpion is that of a lone ranger; a renegade on the desert floor making his way from town to town in search of food. While this image is true for some species, it’s not true for Imperators. They are social animals, so you can easily house multiple scorpions in the same cage. However, they do still need their space, so be sure to increase the size of the cage depending on the number of scorpions you have. If the cage is too small, fights can break out, and you will need to separate them.

Additionally, scorpions in captivity will breed as long as their conditions are kept optimal. If you keep a male and female scorpion together, they should produce offspring. As such, be sure to note the difference between the sexes, so you don’t create a brood if you don’t want one.

As long as you take the time to make your scorpion’s home ideal and keep in mind the environment from which they originate, you should be able to keep an Emperor Scorpion for up to seven years. While they may not be the most playful companion, they can be an impressive and remarkable pet. Just be sure that, if you go out of town, you have friends who can take care of them and aren’t freaked out at the sight of one. 

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