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Q: emperor scorpions lifestyle ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: emperor scorpions lifestyle
Category: Science > Biology
Asked by: alphytheome-ga
List Price: $60.50
Posted: 24 Jul 2006 15:24 PDT
Expires: 23 Aug 2006 15:24 PDT
Question ID: 749159
I would like to find:
1) Exact climate of the Emperor Scorpion (E.S.) humidity & heat
ranges, rain fall, wind, storms et al.
2a) Variety of flora (also rock types) and fauna (including insects)
of the region the E.S. is locted in.
2b) Natural preditors and prey of E.S.
3) Some images of E.S. in their natural habitat.
4) conditions of; a) Capture b) Handling c) Shipping of E.S. for sale at pet stores.
Subject: Re: emperor scorpions lifestyle
Answered By: boquinha-ga on 26 Jul 2006 09:26 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello alphytheome-ga!

What an interesting question! I will admit that scorpions have always
frightened me, and this question is no exception?the pictures made me
very queasy. I did learn a lot, though, and that is always a plus for
me as a researcher. First of all, be sure to read the excellent
comment by my colleague and friend pinkfreud-ga. There are numerous
restrictions placed upon those who wish to export Emperor Scorpions
(E.S) from Western Africa, and it is actually nearly impossible to do
so anymore. Most E.S. kept as pets outside of Africa are those bred in
captivity (more on that later). Here is the information that I found.
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Generally, ?the emperor scorpion lives in the coastal countries of
Western Africa, from Senegal to Congo and Gabon.?

?These scorpions are reported to live inside the giant six foot
termite mounds that are found in their African homeland. As such, they
require high temperatures and high humidity.?

The number of plant and animal species that live in the West African
rainforest are incredible! There are literally thousands of different
plant species and many more insect species. I have listed the most
useful sources available on the internet.

?Home to more than a quarter of Africa?s mammals, including lowland
gorillas and chimpanzees, and more than 1,800 endemic species of
plants, West Africa has been named one of the world's 34 biodiversity
hotspots by Conservation International (CI), a leading global
conservation organization.?

There are numerous types of trees and plants growing in the West
African rainforest where the E.S. lives natively. Here is an excerpt
from an article explaining a little about the vegetation found there.

?In the wettest climates of eastern Zaire and Cameroon, large trees of
the leguminous (pea) family Caesalpiniaceae are abundant and sometimes
form pure stands of a single species. Palms are relatively rare in the
African rainforest, and they tend to occur only in particular
situations, such as where there has been disturbance of the forest. In
contrast to the Americas and the Far East, there are far fewer
epiphytic plants growing on the branches of the trees in African
forests. This might partly be due to the drier climates in Africa, but
is perhaps also a legacy of the fact that the important epiphyte
family Bromeliaceae has failed to reach there, in contrast to the
hundreds of species which occur in the Americas.?

?Even though [African] forests are only some ten percent of the size
they were just two decades ago, they still provide an incredibly rich
and diverse habitat. From the tropical highlands to the lowland
rainforest, from the plateau grasslands to the savanna, from the
swamps to the mangrove forests, the [African] forest is home to more
than 5,000 distinct species of flora and fauna including drill
monkeys, chimpanzees, gorillas, hippopotami, elephants, and myriad
migratory and resident birds. Lions and leopards, their numbers
drastically thinned, still prowl the forest amongst elephants, pygmy
antelopes and clawless otters.?

?The rain forest flora, with its immense wealth of species belonging
to thousands of genera and scores of families, is acting as a
reservoir of genetic diversity and potential variability. For a large
part of planet earth's history, it has acted as a centre of
evolutionary activity from which the rest of the world's flora and
fauna has been recruited. Less heterogeneous than the savanna and
grassland environments, each little area of the rainforest has its
multitude of endemic species.?

As with plant and animal species, there are a number of rock types
present in the West African countries where the E.S. naturally lives.
Here is a list of some of the rocks according to an article in the
?African Journal of Science and Technology.?

* quartzites
* granite gneisses 
* banded gneiss
* augen gneiss
* charnockite
* amphibolite
* biotite granite
* granodiorite

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This information comes from the California Zoological Society site and
discusses some aspects of the proper climate for an E.S.

?Emperor Scorpions come from the forests in Africa where it is warm,
moist and dimly lit. Daytime temperatures 80 - 85. Nighttime
temperatures 78 - 80f. Humidity level should be 80%.?

This is a nice site with information about rainforests in general.

?Mean monthly temperatures are above 64  F; precipitation is often in
excess of 100 inches a year. There is usually a brief season of
reduced precipitation. In monsoonal areas, there is a real dry season,
but that is more than compensated for with abundant precipitation the
rest of the year.?

?Tropical rainforests often have from 160 to 400 inches of rain a
year. But they aren?t the wettest or even the hottest places on Earth.
(The wettest is Mount Waialeale, in Hawaii, USA, and the hottest is
Libya in North Africa.) But just as important as the amount of rain in
shaping the unique character of rainforests is the constant humidity
and high average temperature. . . . The relative humidity never falls
below 80%, and temperatures vary little between daytime averages of 31
degrees Centigrade (88 Fahrenheit) and night-time lows of 22 degrees C
(72 F).?

?The tropical rain forest is a forest of tall trees in a region of
year-round warmth. An average of 50 to 260 inches (125 to 660 cm.) of
rain falls yearly.?

This article discusses recent trends in West African rainfall
patterns. It also talks about how the climate is relatively dry most
of the year, and that there are short bursts of heavy rainfall. This
is the pattern that predominates in the West African countries.

?These time series confirm that dry conditions have continued
throughout West Africa. Everywhere, relatively dry conditions have
prevailed since the late 1960s, and since 1968 rainfall has exceeded
the long-term mean in only a few sporadic cases. One such case was in
1994, when rainfall slightly exceeded the mean in four of the five
zones. In most of the region the next wettest years of the last 20 yr
were 1978 and 1988, but rainfall was generally below the long-term
mean in these years.?

Dust storms are also very common in West Africa. On the NASA website
you can see some satellite images of dust storms, along with video

This travel site has a nice description of weather patterns of Western
Africa. It describes a number of weather phenomena that are of
interest. It also discusses the rainy season in a number of countries.
Those where the E.S. lives experience heavy rainfall during the late
spring to early fall months.

?The name Haboob is rooted from the Arabic word ?phenomena.? This form
of monsoon occurs from May until September. It's a dust storm moving
at a maximum speed of 80 kph, the average speed being 50 kph. The
storm can reach up to heights of 1 km. They last about three hours, in
which they change the desert landscape. The Haboob wind is caused by
thunderclouds in a final phase. Downdrafts in a thunderstorm cause
gust fronts, descending air hitting the ground and picking up large
amounts of dust. The force moves the dust from above. . . . In the
south a strong and hot version occurs, creating a common sandstorm. In
the north the Haboob is colder and causes less dust storms than in the
South. . . .

[Harmattan is] an easterly wind, interrupting the (North East) Trade
winds off the Atlantic coasts to North Africa, across the Gulf of
Guinea and the Cape Verde Islands. It's called Doctor sometimes,
because it is supposed to have healthful properties. It occurs in the
winter, between November and February. Dust parts cause a haze, which
can cover large coastal areas. They can reduce visibility to 45

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The diet of the E.S. is fairly simple, and is limited mainly by what
is available to them. They are sought for food by a large number of
animal species, including humans.

?In the wild, emperor scorpions are reported to feed primarily on
termites. In captivity they readily feed on crickets, cockroaches, and
mealworms. . . .

Emperor scorpions are preyed upon by a huge number of animals,
including other scorpions, spiders, parasitic wasps and flies; birds,
reptiles and amphibians; mammals such as monkeys, mongooses, various
rodents, and even humans.?

Here is a short reference to the wild diet of the emperor scorpion.
They eat ?arthropods and other scorpions, or any animal they can
successfully subdue.?

?Babies eat pinhead crickets, that have been crushed, or had the legs
taken off them so that the scorpions can catch the food easily. Adults
eat crickets, mealworms, woodlice, other large insects, and an
occasional pinkie mouse.?

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There are a lot of pictures of the emperor scorpion on the internet.
Here are links to some pictures of emperor scorpions in their natural
habitat: (This site has frames?click through the
Scorpion section).

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There are a number of sites that have fact sheets about the emperor
scorpion geared especially toward pet owners. All of them discuss safe
handling of scorpions. Here are a few excerpts that deal with handling
emperor scorpions safely.

?Emperor Scorpions can be handled safely. This species is generally
calm and difficult to agitate, but as with any animal with weapons,
they may use them. Scorpions could pinch (which doesn?t hurt much) or
sting (which hurts like a bee sting in this species). They will always
rather pinch since it takes less energy than making more poison after
a sting. If you are not immediately comfortable handling your new
Emperor Scorpion, try using thick gardener?s gloves to get used to it.
Despite their impressive size, these animals are delicate and should
not be dropped, so it is important always to treat them with respect!
ALWAYS wash your hands after handling a [scorpion].?

?Adults are typically quite disinclined to sting and though handling
is not recommended, it is often done. Young Emperors are reported to
sting much more readily. . . . Moist potting soil or peat makes a very
satisfactory substrate, particularly when well packed and at a depth
that allows for burrowing. A mixture of the two may be best as pure
peat will often be very damp then quite suddenly, bone dry.?

?I do not recommend handling any scorpion with your bare hands.
Pandinus and Hadogenes spp. are fairly docile and placid and can
sometimes be allowed to crawl onto a flat hand (depending on the
individual animal's reaction), but I still do not recommend
free-handling or picking up a scorpion. I've witnessed too many
stings, even from Pandinus imperator. For transferring your scorpion I
recommend the following tools and techniques:

* Work in a clear, well-lit work area.
* Work "tank-within-a-tank" (Use a large plastic or glass tank to work
"in" transferring the scorpion over and within the larger tank). This
will give you an extra barrier area in case the scorpion escapes or
wiggles off the thumb tweezers.
* Use 10"-16" thumb tweezers with rubber-padded tips to gently pick up
your scorpion at the end of their tail for quick transferring.?

I spoke with a pet store owner who sells many emperor scorpions and I
asked him for  information on capturing and shipping them. First of
all, he says that importing the emperor scorpion is not being done
currently because of government restrictions in Africa (as mentioned
in the comment). He says that actual capture is simple since they are
virtually harmless (see the quotes on handling the emperor scorpion
above). Once you?ve located an area known to have emperor scorpions,
you simply go and start putting them in a container until you?ve found
enough. He assures me it?s really that simple! Because it would be
very difficult to ship them in satisfactory condition, most emperor
scorpions caught in their native West Africa are being used locally.

The emperor scorpion is actually very simple to ship domestically.
They arrive at pet stores in some sort of round plastic container with
tiny holes for air entry. There will be some sort of peat or moss that
has been moistened on the bottom of the container. Most emperor
scorpion are packed in the morning and delivered the same day to local
pet stores. With Anything beyond same-day delivery, you run the risk
of the scorpion dying. The emperor scorpion is so easily bred in
captivity that virtually all pet stores use a local provider for their
stock of scorpions.

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This is a fact sheet on the emperor scorpion.

Here is another fairly detailed article about the emperor scorpion.

This is a site about the world?s rainforests that is packed with information.

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I hope that you find this information useful! If you have any need of
further clarification, please let me know how I can help.


Search strategy:
Online search
Telephone conversation with pet store owner who sells emperor scorpions

Search terms:

emperor scorpions
emperor scorpion habitat
emperor scorpion native flora
emperor scorpion climate
?West Africa? rainforest climate
?West Africa? rainforest insect
handling emperor scorpion
?West Africa? ?rock types?
alphytheome-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $12.50
I've had my Scops for nearly a year now (I rescued them from someone
who couldn't keep them)and I've searched high and low (the internet)
to find info to make their enclosure nearly identical to their
origional habitat. Most info I found was from other owners and it
usually contridicted each other. So I turned to GA, and you were
amazing, everything answered very nicely and informitavily. Thank you
very much.

Subject: Re: emperor scorpions lifestyle
From: pinkfreud-ga on 24 Jul 2006 15:27 PDT
"Three members of the Pandinus genus of scorpion have been listed
under CITES Appendix II. This includes the most popular of the petshop
scorpions, the emperor scorpion Pandinus imperator. It is now illegal
to import or export emperor scorpions from their native Africa without
a permit. This allows the number of scorpions being taken from the
wild to be carefully monitored by biologists, and can give an advance
warning if this species is being overcollected to the point where they
become rare in the wild. Fortunately, this species breeds readily in
captivity, and large numbers of captive-bred offspring are now
becoming available, which reduces the need to take any more of these
animals from the wild."
Subject: Re: emperor scorpions lifestyle
From: boquinha-ga on 27 Jul 2006 18:01 PDT
Wow! Thank you so very much for the kind words, 5 stars, and generous
tip! I'm so happy to know that I've been able to help you! Good luck
with your scorpions and in working to make their living space close to
their natural habitat. Thank you, again!

Subject: Re: emperor scorpions lifestyle
From: boquinha-ga on 31 Jul 2006 05:59 PDT
Hi again!

Here's another link that may interest you--it has more pictures and
information on emperor scorpions.

Subject: Re: emperor scorpions lifestyle
From: boquinha-ga on 02 Dec 2006 19:27 PST
With GA closing up shop, I'm going through old answers of mine. This
is a recent fun one. Thanks again!

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