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Scorpion Species Guide

Suggestions for Beginners


emperor scorpion photo

Emperor Scorpion

Lianne McLeod

For beginners, the most universally recommended species to keep as a pet is the Emperor scorpion, Pandinus imperator. It is fairly docile and its sting is said to be roughly the same as a bee or wasp sting (although serious anaphylactic reactions can occur). For other species, the sting can range from relatively harmless to very painful or even potentially lethal. Here is a brief summary of characteristics of some species available as pets.

Pandinus sp.

  • Pandinus imperator - Emperor - large, fairly docile, and good for beginners
  • Pandinus cavimanus (Tanzanian Redclaw) - smaller than emperors and can be more aggressive so not as suitable as emperors, but okay for beginners
  • these are rain forest species that are easy to obtain and care for
Heterometrus sp.
  • Heterometrus spinifer - Thai Black
  • Heterometrus javanensis - Javanese Jungle Scorpion
  • large rain forest species, but tend to be a little harder to obtain
  • fairly benign stings (like wasp), okay for beginners
  • both species are said to be easy to keep in groups, and worth the cost
Hadrurus sp. (Desert Hairy Scorpion)
  • Hadrurus hirsutus
  • Hadrurus arizonensis
  • desert species
  • painful sting
  • fairly aggressive
  • not for beginners
Bothriurus bonnariensis (Chilean Chocolate)
  • more aggressive
  • painful sting
  • not for beginners
Species best avoided:
  • Androctonus sp. - potentially lethal
  • Vaejovis sp. - very painful
  • Centuroides sp. - potentially lethal.
  • also - Scorpio maurus - fairly dangerous itself, but sometimes young Androctonus australis (highly venomous - potentially lethal) are mistakenly identified and sold as S. maurus. Beginners should avoid both!
Sources: Caring for Scorions (by G. Ramel) and Scorpions ( by K.Pitts).

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