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 Rhopalurus junceus rapid scratching

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EmielVrolijk
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PostSubject: Rhopalurus junceus rapid scratching   8/6/2014, 8:46 am

Hi there,

Since I had my first pair of Rhopalurus junceus die already, I thought it might be a good idea to describe their behaviour over here. Maybe someone has some idea what it might be. My new male is starting to show the first signs of this behaviour as well...

The first enclosure had the following things in it:

Pure, organic, cocopeat substrate, and I added a few spoons with vermiculite later, to keep the humidity high.
A few pieces of cork bark, frozen for a couple of days to kill any pests.
An artificial tree stump, with a bark-like texture.
A piece of mangrove wood, bought in a pet's store (meant for aquaria)
A water dish.
A heat mat taped on the outside of the back wall.

They seemed to do fine the first couple of days/weeks. They both caught and ate a midsize dubia roach the first day, and even went to have a Promenade ŗ Deux one of the first nights.

After two days, I noticed the first (now dead) male walking a bit funny. Since I was not familiar with this species, I thought it was normal behaviour. Then, a few days later, I started to worry. He was walking around erratically, scratching his mouth parts rapidly with his first pair of legs, "chewing" air as if eating a prey, and twisting and turning his metasoma all the time. I posted an emergency call on our local scorpion forum, and they thought it were mites. I isolated the male and the female, completely sterilized the enclosure with organic soap, changed the substrate for a cocopeat/vermiculite mixture, boiled and froze the pieces of cork bark and the piece of mangrove wood again, put some predatory mites in, and put the female back in there.

One thing to mention: before changing everything, I even found a nearly dead juvenile dubia roach, laying on its back... so I knew something had to be wrong. Those bugs are nearly impossible to kill.

The male kept on showing the erratic behaviour in ICU. He worsened over the course of a week, and died.

When the new male arrived (the seller sent me a new one for free), I thought it to be a good idea to remove the artificial tree stump. I didn't trust it. When doing so, I noticed the female showing the same behaviour, so I put her in ICU as well. I changed the substrate again, for pure cocopeat this time, as I didn't trust the vermiculite either. She died about a week later in ICU.

The new male, in its enclosure filled with a layer of cocopeat, a few big pieces of boiled and frozen cork bark, the mangrove wood, a water dish, and some newly added isopods, seemed to do fine as well, up until now. He's still walking quite well, but I see him scratching his mouth parts too, and twisting his metasoma a little bit.

I'm desperate. What could it be? He ate a cricket a few days ago, humidity levels and temperature are right (60/70% humidity, 25/30 degrees Celsius), only thing was that all of these Rhopalurus junceus were sent in a pretty crappy package. The first pair came together in a cricket box, placed in a larger box, with nearly no isolation (only a few newspapers). The new male came in a bubble envelope...

On arachnoboards, they suggested the cork bark might have been fumigated before shipment. Even if it was, I suspect boiling it for five minutes would have been sufficient to get rid of that, right? Besides, my Babycurus jacksoni scorplings are doing fine with their pieces of cork bark, and those pieces have only been frozen for a couple of days.

These Rhopalurus junceus got the same dubia roaches as the rest of my collection, and this male got one of the same crickets that I feed to my smaller tarantulas. The artificial tree stump has been removed. The cocopeat is the same substrate that I use for all of my other critters. The only possibilities left are an illness, the water dish, the piece of mangrove wood, or the cork bark.

Since removing the animals from their enclosure and putting them in ICU didn't help, I suspect it must be some kind of poisoning.. and I really don't know what causes this poisoning. Please help me.
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Scorpion19981000
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PostSubject: Re: Rhopalurus junceus rapid scratching   8/6/2014, 10:16 am

It does sound like some sort of chemical/pesticide....what exactly it's coming from I have no idea.



Personally I'd replace everything in the tank, and then rinse the tank out well with hot water. Other than that I'm not really sure what you can do.

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PostSubject: Re: Rhopalurus junceus rapid scratching   8/6/2014, 10:33 am

Sounds like a great idea. Would it harm him if I replaced the cork bark with natural pieces of rock?

I'm also getting a bunch of new baby scorpions tomorrow, but I don't dare to use the cork bark I put in their prepared enclosures. I think I'm going to hammer a rock from our garden into smaller pieces, clean them with boiling water, and use those instead.

Just to be on the safe side, I might even take out the cork bark from my Babycurus jacksoni scorplings, and replace it with small rock pieces as well, if it's okay for them to live on rocks, instead of bark.
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PostSubject: Re: Rhopalurus junceus rapid scratching   8/6/2014, 10:36 am

Yeah, rocks are fine.....make sure they are secure in one spot though. You don't want a rock to tip over on a scorp.

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PostSubject: Re: Rhopalurus junceus rapid scratching   8/6/2014, 9:23 pm

Everything has been replaced this night. The little guy seems to like his new enclosure Smile I'll put up a picture soon. Hopefully the chemicals haven't destroyed him completely yet. He only showed the very first symptoms when I rehoused him (minor metasoma twisting, and a tiny bit of scratching).

I do believe it was the cork bark... The first pair probably got the full chemical load to cope with, while this male only struggled with the remainder. A pity that I didn't know this before... My pair would still be alive.

I've contacted the store that sold me this crap, and asked them to contact their supplier, to ask if they fumigate the cork bark they sell. If so, I think I'll demand some form of compensation. They should have placed a warning in the product description, to let buyers know that the cork bark will be lethal to arachnids.
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PostSubject: Re: Rhopalurus junceus rapid scratching   8/6/2014, 10:34 pm

Sounds good. I hope you have better luck with this one.

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PostSubject: Re: Rhopalurus junceus rapid scratching   8/8/2014, 9:04 am

I hope so too..

I'm really puzzled.. The pieces of cork bark in my Babycurus jacksoni scorpling enclosures don't seem to harm them, while these pieces have only been frozen for a while. Yesterday one of them had moulted into instar... 4, I guess, without any problems. I just found another perfect moult, so they are doing fine.

Maybe the toxins of whatever they treated the cork bark with only come out when it's boiled? Though the store where I bought it says they have no problem using it in their fish tanks... Strange, really strange..
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