Scientific Name Pandinus imperator
Conservation Status Not Evaluated
As one of the largest scorpions in the world the emperor scorpion may reach lengths of up to 20cm (7.9in) long and weighs in at an average 30g (1oz). They have 8 legs one on each segment of the body. The body is coloured black. When placed under ultraviolet light they will fluoresce blue or green.
The tail, known as the metasoma, curves back over the body and is tipped with the stinger. This stinger is red in colour. This tail is covered by small hairs which allow them to sense prey through vibrations.
At the front of the body is a pair of large pincers which are coloured a reddish-black.
Lifespan in captivity is recorded as between 5 and 8 years with wild lifespan not studied.
Emperor Scorpions are carnivorous. The majority of their prey is insects with mice and small lizards also eaten. They can slow down their metabolism to allow them to go for up to a year without eating. All of their water needs can be obtained from their food.
Young scorpions rely on their stinger to immobilise prey while adults prefer to grab prey with their pincers and crush it.
Africa is the native home of the emperor scorpion. Here it can be found throughout Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
They make their burrows within rainforest and tropical savanna areas. They dig their burrows in to soil or under rocks, logs, termite mounds and tree roots.
Mating occurs year-round but peaks when the temperatures are warm. When a pair meet, the male will take the female by the pincers and move her around with him. Once he finds a suitable spot he will deposit a spermatophore. He will then pull the female over the top of this where she moves it in to her genital aperture.
It will take a seven to nine-month gestation before the scorpions are born. The mother gives birth to live young who spend the first few weeks of life living on her back. At birth, they are white in colour and measure just 12.77mm (½ in) long. As many as 35 young can be born at one time.
As they grow they moult their old skin replacing it with a new one. This gradually darkens from white to black as they grow.
Young may live together for an extended period as they have safety from being in a group.
Sexual maturity is achieved at 4 months old.
Emperor scorpions are nocturnal. They hunt at night. Because of their poor eyesight, they rely upon their sensory hairs to determine where their prey is. Their day is spent in the burrow. Up to 15 scorpions may share the same burrow.
Predators of the emperor scorpion include bats, birds, spiders, small mammals, centipedes, lizards and larger scorpions.
Emperor scorpions are popular exotic pets.
Top – By Danny Steaven (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Bottom – By Kevin Walsh from Oxford, England (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons