The large black emperor scorpion is the type of scorpion that is most commonly kept as a pet; however, scorpions as a group are a very diverse group of animals, and among the many different types of scorpions, the whip scorpion is notable for exhibiting some peculiar behaviours that make it an intriguing choice for a pet.
Female whip scorpion with egg sac, shown under GNU license from Wikipedia.org
Because of its long, slender tail, sometimes known as a “whip,” the whip scorpion gets its name from the fact that it can shoot a powerful acid from the base of its tail when it needs to defend itself. This species is commonly referred to as the vinegarroon due to the strong odour that is produced by the liquid, which is primarily composed of acetic acid. The liquid is non-toxic. The acid irritates the eyes and the skin.
The whip scorpion’s main weapons are actually its claws, which are strong and can deliver a painful wound. These scorpions should be handled with jars, gloves, or by using forceps, wrapped with padding around their edges, to get hold of the broad part of the body in front of the tail.
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Keeping A Whip Scorpion
Whip scorpions are best housed separately in small terrariums of say 30×30×20 cm for a specimen of up to 120mm length. Use a secure, well-ventilated lid on top and a dry mixture of peat and sand as the base.
Shelters under which the scorpion will hide throughout daylight hours should be made of stone and sprayed with water mist 2-3 times per week. Not much light is required and the whip scorpion is actually averse to it.
A shallow dish of water is required as most scorpions do drink a lot. The temperature needs to be above 25 degrees Centigrade and slightly lower at night; heat is usually administered to scorpion terrariums via heated panels in the base of the tank. Whip scorpions feed on insects including millipedes, grubs, crickets, cockroaches and small slugs, and also newborn mice.
Whip Scorpion Mating And Breeding
The normal mating “dance” of other scorpions is carried out slightly differently by whip scorpions. The female has pulled around and behind the male as he shakes his whip tail and sperm is transferred through two stem-like structures. The male and female should be rehoused separately as soon as possible after mating.
After several weeks’ pregnancy, spraying the female’s shelter copiously with water stimulates the wet season in their natural habitat and induces the white baby scorpions to hatch from the eggs beneath the female’s body, whereupon they will then climb onto her back.
Around the time of the first shedding of their skins, the babies will move off separately and if required as additional pets, they should be housed separately and their diet supplemented with vitamins until they are adults.