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Emperor Scorpion

Range:

Western Africa (Togo, Chad, Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Congo)

Habitat:

Emperor scorpions are found in the hot, humid rainforest, nestled in their own burrows, which they dig in the soil. Emperors also dig under rocks, logs or tree roots.

Characteristics:

Scorpions grow and shed their entire exoskeleton several times before they are fully grown. As adults, emperor scorpions are difficult to distinguish from a distance, since males and females act and look similar. Males can be smaller or narrower, and spend a majority of their time looking for females with which to mate.

Emperors are glossy black, but can be dark brown to green. The stinger and claws may be red-colored. Their overall color gets darker after subsequent molts; this dark coloring helps them to be better camouflaged.

To conserve energy in times of famine, scorpions can slow down their metabolism. Certain scorpions can survive almost a year without food. Scorpions do not need to drink water. They get all the water they need from their food. Because of this adaptation, their feces is a dry powder-like substance.

Due to their extreme habitat, scorpions can withstand temperature to below freezing, or endure the blistering heat of the desert.

Behavior:

Scorpions are sensitive to light, so they are primarily nocturnal. They often rest in burrows, waiting until prey comes close enough to ambush it. They also hunt for prey by holding still and sensing vibrations a potential meal gives off as it moves. Once the prey animal is close enough they quickly strike with their stinger or grasp the victim in their claws.

Larger emperor scorpions rarely use their stinger to capture prey instead they crush their prey with their claws. Smaller and younger emperor scorpions rely on their stinger to subdue prey.

Scorpions must predigest their food before they consume it. Once the prey is subdued, they secrete digestive enzymes onto the prey, which liquefies the food and prepares it for consumption.

Reproduction:

Mating occurs year-round, but requires warm temperatures. When the two sexes meet, the male holds the female in his grasp, pushing the female around until he finds a suitable place to mate. When he finds the appropriate spot, he deposits his spermatophore on a solid substrate. Then, he pulls the female into position over it, and she accepts it into her genital aperture. He quickly leaves after mating, as he could be the female's next meal.

For seven to nine months, the young gestate inside her body, until she gives live birth to as many as 35 young. The babies are very tiny – about one half inch in length, when they first appear on their mother's back. The mother protects and cares for the white-colored young which stay with her for quite some time. She shares prey items with her young. A communal society of young scorpions exists for a period of several molts. The young of this species have a better chance of survival when living in a family group.

Interesting Facts:

There are over 1,100 identified species of scorpions, but less than 30 species are considered dangerous to humans. The sting of most scorpions is only as harmful as a bee sting.

Even though this species of scorpion is large, heavy and terrifying in appearance, its sting is not lethal.

Scorpions fluoresce under ultra violet light.

Conservation:

All species of scorpions are beneficial to their environment, because they prey on pest insects and arachnids.

Like many animals, the Emperor Scorpion lives in a forested area so in the wild they are threatened by deforestation and habitat loss. One way you can help this animal and many more is by recycling and buying recycled products.

Did YOU Know?
Many more species of scorpions remain undiscovered. Finding them may be difficult, as scorpions tend to live in hostile environments, and it is difficult to distinguish between species.
Emperor Scorpion
Range
Class: arachnida
Order: Scorpiones
Family: Scorpionidae
Genus: Pandinus
Species: imperator
Length: 6.5 inches
Weight: 1 to 2 ounces
Average Lifespan: Five to eight years
Wild Diet: Primarily insects, arthropods and other scorpions; however, they will consume any animal they can successfully subdue
Zoo Diet: Crickets
Predators: Reptiles, mammals, amphibians
CITES Status: Appendix II
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building


Learn more about arachnida or animals from Africa!
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