Imperial scorpions – also known as Emperor Scorpions – are one of the easiest species of scorpion to keep in captivity. They’re also large and showy specimens that can make very eye-catching displays when they are set up right and can even be quite sociable meaning it is generally possible to keep two or more imperial scorpions together providing they have suitable space and food.
Housing imperial scorpions is also generally quite easy and all he equipment you’ll need can be bought cheaply and easily from most decent reptile stores.
Suggested Equipment For Housing Imperial Scorpions
Lets start off by discussing the recommended equipment that you’ll be needing when i comes to housing your imperial scorpion and then we can move onto some guidance on how to actually set the main tank itself up for your pets. Here’s what you’ll be needing;
Scorpion Cage– The first thing of course that you will need is a cage or vivarium to put your scorpion in and here there are a range of possible options. Examples include a fish tank with a specialist reptile-safe lid, one of the purpose-built glass tarantula tanks now seen for sale regularly through to a cage intended for small reptiles like the Exo Terra glass terrariums.
The main thing to bear in mind is that scorpions can be great escape artists and so a close-fitting lid is vital. Also ensure that both the lid and the main body of the vivarium have no small gaps through which your scorpion could escape.
Personally I typically use an all-glass tank with a close-fitting glass lid as designed for invertebrates. A size of 18″ long will be suitable for a single specimen though if you decide to keep two or more it is recommended you start with a cage measuring at least 24″ long to provide extra space.
Heater – Imperial scorpions are a tropical species hailing from the warm, moist areas of Africa so a source of warmth during the cooler months is necessary. A simple reptile heat mat is a perfect solution for this as it provides gentle background heat without the risk of overheating and without the expense of some of the more powerful heating devices.
Substrate – Imperial scorpions tend not to burrow in captivity to their substrate does not need to be too deep. Rather this is really to create a natural environment that is not only attractive to look at but also allows your scorpion to live in a rather more authentic habitat. Imperial scorpions like a reasonably high humidity so the substrate you choose needs to be suitable for this.
Examples include orchid bark, coir compost or potting compost mixed with some vermiculite to retain moisture. Beech chips, corn con granules, sand and other popular reptile substrates typically don’t work as well as they either rot in the moist environment of an imperial scorpion cage or they don’t retain enough moisture for your pet.
Water Bowl – Whilst they do so very rarely you should aim to provide a water bowl for your scorpion so that fresh water is available if and when required. Scorpions can drown quite easily so the water bowl should be as shallow as possible. The upturned lid off a jar can work well and some scorpion enthusiasts also like to place cotton wool in the bowl before adding the water to reduce the risks of drowning even further.
Hide – Imperial scorpions are nocturnal and generally like to hide away somewhere safe during the day. Providing a hide such as a piece of bark or slate, carefully mounted so it cannot fall on your pet, is therefore essential when housing emperor scorpions. Should you keep two or more emperors it is wise to offer a range of hides to give your pets a wider range of choices though even then you will often find your scorpions snuggled up together under the same hide.
Light– A light certainly isn’t essential for scorpions as they are nocturnal and tend to shy away from bright light. Therefore placing the cage in a dark corner of your room is the best course of action when it comes to where to put your scorpion tank. However I mention lighting here for two reasons.
Firstly, like many other species of scorpion, imperial scorpions glow up under UV light and so it can be fun to invest in a small hand-held ultraviolet light so you can show your friends and family how they glow when the light is placed on them.
Secondly imperial scorpions are nocturnal so there is a risk that you will rarely see your pet – even when you put some food into the cage. However a useful tip is that it seems these scorpions cannot see red light. Therefore it is possible to buy a red bulb to place near their cage so that during the evening you can observe them going about their routine without your scorpion being disturbed in any way.
Setting Up Your Imperial Scorpion Housing
Place your scorpion tank so that it is half on and half off your heat mat. This will ensure that one end is warmer than the other – producing a so-called “thermal gradient” which allows your scorpions to select the temperature that is best suited to them. The warmest end should ideally be heated to around 24’C and it is a good idea to regularly check the temperature using a digital thermometer ideally or at worst placing your hand on the heater from time to time to ensure it is still producing warmth.
Into the cage place 1-2cm of your chosen substrate and place your water bowl at the cooler end (so that less water evaporates from it). Place in the hides you have purchased in such a way that your scorpion(s) can easily get under them. Then give the whole cage a good spray with a plant spray gun to add some moisture and place the lid on the cage.
Ideally within a short space of time you should find the heater has suitably warmed the cage and the water droplets are evaporating gently to produce a warm and humid environment – perfect for imperial scorpions.
At this point is is safe to introduce your new pet who will most likely spend quite some time exploring their new home before settling down to sleep under one of your hides.