Although the large black emperor scorpion is more usually kept as a pet, the scorpion species are a very diverse group and amongst the various types the whip scorpion has some unique behaviors that make it an intriguing choice of pet.
female whip scorpion with egg sac, shown under GNU license from Wikipedia.org
The whip scorpion has a long thin tail, hence the term whip, from beneath the base of which it is able to squirt a strong acid when defending itself. The liquid is non-poisonous and is mainly acetic acid, strong-smelling and is the reason this species is sometimes known as the vinegarroon. The acid inflames skin and eyes. 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.
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 itself 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. 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 is 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.