Deadly scorpions are covered in most countries by licensing meaning that in general the species of scorpion commonly available in the pet trade are relatively safe. At worst their stings tend to be like that of a bee causing some short term swelling, redness, soreness and possible muscle cramps. However there is always a risk of anaphylactic shock and furthermore even being stung by a relatively harmless scorpion isn’t a particularly pleasant experience.
Therefore if you are considering keeping a pet scorpion it is wise to familiarize yourself with a few tips and strategies for safely handling your scorpion to prevent damage either to yourself or your pet.
Safety Guidelines When Handling Scorpions
I have only been stung by one scorpion in all my years of keeping these fantastic creatures and frankly that was only because I wasn’t paying enough attention. When handling scorpions it is important to be fully focused on the task at hand rather than trying to hurry or do it while concentrating on something else.
For safety try to ensure you roll up your sleeves to eliminate the risks of a scorpion getting lose and running up your clothes. Also be conscious at all times of exactly where your hands are to ensure they are safely out of reach.
The sting I received was as a result of absent-mindedly leaving a thumb hanging over the side of the scorpion cage while I tried to catch the scorpion with my other hand. Before I knew what had happened he had managed a direct hit with his tail which was, I assure you, not just a surprise but also quite a painful one into the bargain.
Handling Scorpions In A Safe Environment
Scorpions can be both quick and agile so before to try moving your scorpion from one container to another it is wise to set yourself up with a safe environment. In this way should any accidents occur you know your scorpion will be contained which will prevent any unnecessary damage occurring to your pet as well as avoiding the risk of your pet turning up unexpectedly in the future!
I personally like to do any movement of scorpions on my bathtub. I put the plug in so there is no escape and then place both containers in the (dry) bath. In this way, should I slip and drop the scorpion not only will it only fall a few inches this avoiding any damage but it will be easy to catch again as there will be no furniture to hide under and no crevices to get in to.
Handling Scorpions With Forceps
One useful technique for handling scorpions is to invest in some long forceps or tweezers as available from some specialist reptile stores. Personally I use a set that is 30cm long and they have come in handy for all sorts of jobs with my exotic pets over the years. The length is important because with this handling technique there is always a risk that the scorpion will manage to grab hold of the forceps and start trying to climb up them. Having long forceps keeps your fingers well out of harms way and gives you time to assess the situation should things start to go wrong.
The way to handle a scorpion using forceps is to gently but firmly grasp your scorpion on the section of it’s tail just before the stinger itself. You can then gently lift up your scorpion where it will hang safely by it’s tail. Having hold of the stinger means there is no chance of getting stung and furthermore when lifted in this way many scorpions will simply hang motionlessly until you place them into their new container and they feel terra firma beneath their feet.
Getting into position does take some practise and you may find that you “miss” the tail several times when you’re first getting comfortable wih this technique but after a while it can be a very quick and painless process for both of you.
One important point to make if you decide to try this technique is to try hard not to grasp the actual sting itself as this could cause damage to this relatively fragile part of the scorpions’ anatomy. As I’d sure you’d agree, it’s far better to miss altogether than risk damaging your pet when using this technique.
Handling Scorpions With Plastic Containers
The second method for handling your scorpion is to use your forceps to gently guide it into a small plastic container at which point you can put a lid on it. For this I typically use an old cricket tub as these are generally made from clear plastic giving me better visibility over what I am doing.