Keeping exotic pets really adds a thrill to everyday life. The scorpion is one of those animals that makes everyone cringe. That’s why keeping them as a pets is totally awesome. Not to mention scorpions are super interesting. They have crazy defense power and some species can kill a human within minutes. Aside all the interesting facts, lets talk about caring for scorpions as pets in our homes.
Where to Buy? For Sale?
Habitat Cage & Setup
Need a Temperature Mat
Substrate Tank Liner
Hiding Spots & Decor
Type of Lighting
Humidity Level & Moisture
Food and Water
The most popular species of scorpion that is used as a pet is the Emperor Scorpion. They are not poisonous which makes them a great candidate to keep ad a pet. Keeping Emperor scorpions is becoming so mainstream that even huge chain pet stores like Petco and pet smart usually have them in stock for sale.
*Note: Emperor scorpions do sting but its comparable to a bee sting and a doctor’s visit usually isnt even needed. Read more on the Emperor species here.
Habitat Setup and Cages
The most important variable to keeping scorpion as pets is their habitat. The most commom cage used to house scorpions is a fish aquarium. Go to your local pet store and buy a “20 gallon long” or also called a “breeder” series of tanks. All this means is that the tank is longer and more narrow. It doesn’t make sense to buy an aquarium that is tall because your scorpion will only be using the bottom.
Most guides are going to tell you to buy a 10 gallon aquarium but I dont agree with that. Its so easy to just get that little bit of extra in a 20 gallon long and it gives your scorpion a lot more room to move around. Or maybe you want multiple scorpions living together.. so go with a 30 gallon “long” series tank.
*Note: Why not go that extra mile and give your scorpion/s a little more room with a bit bigger of an aquarium. Make the tank an entertainment piece for someone to see and get a nice stand too. Just a thought/advice. It is said that large aquariums make it harder for scorpions to catch their prey but I’m not totally convinced on this theory.
Needed: Temperature Mat
The only specialty item you will need to keep a pet scorpion is a “reptile mat”. It is a heat pad that sits underneath your aquarium and lets you configure the temperature. I advise you to buy it on Amazon because local pet stores love marking up the prices on necessity items like this. Here are some top rated image links from amazon of reptile mats. Read more on this below in the article.
Bottom Lining / Substrate
Your cage needs to have a lining to it and the reason is because that is part of the scorpions natural habitat. We are ideally trying to build our cages into the animal’s natural habitat so it can have the healthiest life possible.
In most cases sand is going to be used as your tank liner. Reptile sand is pretty cheap and common (here is amazon link). What you need to watch for is additives that are put in the sand.. but if you buy sand with the word “reptile” involved.. then it will be safe. Sometimes people cut corners and use sand from home improvement stores. Its still a fine route to go but make sure you do your homework on additives.
*Note: Jungle species need a different tank lining than sand. There are pre-mixed substrates you can buy or you can create your own with a mix of bark, dirt and more. Further research that if you plan on owning a jungle native species. Or the more common route is to get a dessert native scorpion like the “Emperor” species and just use sand.
Thickness of Substrate
Your cage (or aquarium) will need to have 3-6 inches of substrate lining on the bottom. This is a big deal because scorpions burrow to help bring their body temperatures up or down. If the temperature is too high the scorpion will burrow down into a cooler area to cool itself down. So having enough depth is very important.
Hiding Spots are Needed
Scorpions need a constant place to hide. Its best to have a couple different hiding spots at all times. Its not necessarily that scorpions are insecure and need to hide.. but more or less its just part of their lifestyle. Flat pieces of rock work great. Other items like driftwood, large bark pieces, and generic reptile decorations work too. Make sure you have hiding spots available.
What Type of Lights?
Emperor scorpions are actually nocturnal so their lighting can be close to nothing. I see a lot of people use zero lighting and that is fine. Others complain that they want a cool LED light to “showcase” their awesome exotic pet. My answer to that is to use nothing ultraviolet or full spectrum because it will do harm. Its a common mistake to use UV lights with scorpions because they are thought to of need it since they live in the desert an such.. not true.
Note: A cool way to showcase your scorpion at nighttime is to get a backlight for your cage. This way you can watch them hunt and do what they do while awake.
Depending on what species of scorpion you have, humidity levels will need to be right. For instance, the Emperor Scorpion needs a maintained humidity of 80%. The way you keep the tank humid is by misting water on a daily to bi-daily basis. A tool you will want to buy is called a hygrometer. It measures the humidity level. Here are some amazon product links to help.
Instead of having your scorpion cage one specific temperature, you want to create a variation of temperatures. One side of the cage should be at the high end of 86 degrees Fahrenheit. While the other should be around 76 degrees Fahrenheit. To achieve this, use a heatpad on the bottom of the aquarium. Only have the heatpad on 1/3 of the aquarium bottom.
*Note: We advise using a special reptile heatpad designed for reptile cages and such. Not just any heatpad will work at your specific temperatures you need like these ones do. Here is an amazon link to some best sellers it helps. Also, here are some image links.
The reason we want the variation in temperatures is to let the scorpion control its own body temperature (that’s what it does). They will burrow into the sand or dirt to bring their temp down when needed and vice versa for warming up. Scorpions are experts at managing their body temperatures. We just need to setup their habitat properly to make it possible for them to do so.
Food and Water
In the wild they will have a diverse menu of insects and other smaller critters to feed on. But in captivity, the best food is crickets, worms, and a variety of insects you can maybe find. To give you an idea of a proper amount of food.. An emperor scorpion is a larger size scorpion (commonly kept as pets) and they will eat around 5-10 crickets a week at most. Remember to change it up every now and then. Maybe some moths, flies, or insects you can find.
Dont forget a small water dish for them too. They don’t need much at all. Just make sure its not too deep so they dont drown themselves.
If your thinking about getting a pet scorpion dont forget to think of the future. They may seem like super cool pets (and they are!) but they do live for 6+ years. Just make sure your fully committed to cleaning the tank on a weekly basis, changing the water dish every couple days and keep in up on food. Just like any pet, they take work and full commitment.
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Posted by Marla J:
A lot of people choose to build custom reptile cages too. Its more of an intermediate level build but very fun to do. Custom cages are usually built out of wood or plastic pipes and then use screen to wrap around the cage. If you want more info on custom cage builds, visit our “cages & habitat” category and view the threads.