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ScorpTrek
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PostSubject: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 10:57 am

Hiya, im new to the forum and have lurked here for well over a year. My reason for doing so? I want a scorpion. And, having a history degree, if there is anything im good at its researching so I have spent over a year searching the internet for guides, caresheets, tips, advice, pictures and everything else to do with keeping scorpions as pets. I am 24, a graduate and now have a nice graduate job so im ready to take the plunge.

I should highlight, I have never kept any inverts and Scorpions are the ones that appeal to me. After all this time I feel im ready to get started and purchase a tank and later a scorpion. However, there are some exceptionally basic questions I have never found the answers to. I would greatly appreciate it if the users here could help me out.

Forgive me if these questions seem exceptionally basic, but I have read so much on different forums and websites and I have never quite found a straight answer to these questions. I am determined to ensure that any animal I buy is cared for properly.

1. I know the 'Desert Hairy' and Pandinus Imperator are the recommended starter species. However im very attracted to Sminigerus mesaensis. Now, as a desert species I know it requires a sand substrate. I know my local pet shop has Desert Sand. However most of what I have read online recommends making 80% - 10% mixtures with clay etc and this is a smidge confusing. Could anyone explain how to go about this in more detail? Is it essential?

2. Vivarium wise, I would love the Exo-Terra 45x45x45. I have read many argue over these tanks, most seem to say they are geat but expensive. What im interested in is: is that tank alright for Sminigerus mesaensis? Its not too small?

3. Speaking of that tank, is it alright with a heat lamp? No way im using a mat and frying my scorp.

4. Here is where things get exceptionally basic. Feeding! My local pet shop has plastic boxes full of crickets, meal worms etc. However what I cant find an answer to online is keeping these dudes! Do I NEED a Kritter Keeper? Must they be kept in a box like that and fed etc? I fully understand gut loading and how a cricket is a walking shell and it must be made nutritious for the scorp but...im still a bit confused on the whole aspect. Must I dust them?

5. Here is a good question that bugs me. I certainly do not want a scorpling. I obviously do not have the skills to deal with such a task. However, when I check the recommended websites, for example, on TheSpiderShop website:
It says M-L...what does that MEAN? [Obviously I know it means medium-large] As in, adult? Sub-adult? Its a tad confusing.



I hope you all bear with me. I understand my questions are very basic but the extreme basic stuff is the ones I couldn't find an answer to. I know all about false-bottom set-ups, dangers of heat-mats, humidity, stress etc.

With your help, I'd love to gain a bit more knowledge and be ready to get my first scorpion.

Thanks, I'm grateful for any replies.
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Callum B
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 11:27 am

Hello and welcome to the forum!!

Smeringus mesaensis are great scorpions.

Now to answer some of your questions.

1. My S. mesaensis is currently on a mix of sand, excavator clay and coco fibre at a ratio of something like 50 sand/30 clay/20 coco. It doesn't have to be exact. Don't use to much clay though, as it hardens like rock! Mix it all together and then dampen it. The way I lay this substrate so as it dries quicker, is to pour a layer of the mix into the tank, spray it with water until its all damp and then keep repeating until you have the desired depth. I used to just soak the mix before I used it but this can then take weeks to dry. For a S. mesaensis you want to have a substrate thats's 4'' minimum.

2. Exo terra's are nice but expensive. The size you have mentioned is more than adequate. An S. mesaensis would be happy in anything above 30cm x 15cm. The one problem with Exo Terras is that the front opening doors and lip don't allow for a very deep substrate unless you slope it up towards the back of the enclosure. Another important consideration with this species is to provide very good ventialtion as high humidity can cause health problems such as mycosis.

3. A heat lamp is perfect. I use mats on most of my enclosures but lamps do provide a more natural heat source from above. If your house is quite warm you could probably turn the light off during the night, this will provide a natural day/night cycle for your scorpion.

4. All my scorpions get a staple diet of crickets. I keep my crickets in kritter keepers. They need to be kept well fed. I use sliced potato, carrot and orange that has had most of its juice squeezed out. All 3 of these veg/fruit dry out rather than turn to mouldy mush when left in with the crickets. I also provide them with dried dog food but other dried pet foods for cats, fish will be fine. You don't need to dust your crickets with any supplements like you do for reptiles.

5. As far as I know the S. mesaensis that the spider shop has in are adults but if you do end up with a sub adult don't panic. It's generally very easy to spot when a scorpion is coming up to a moult and when you spot this you can increase the humidity slightly to help it through moulting.
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 12:18 pm

Thanks for the reply Callum.

Everything you posted made sense, though im still a smidge daunted by the sand/clay/coco fibre mixing thing. The pet shop nearest me sells 'Monkfield Desert Sand' & 'Monk field coco-fibre bricks' so 'id just have to locate some excavator clay.

Oh i have thought of another question:

6. Cleaning. I know Scorpions are quite clean and that dead insects should be removed. How often though would you recommend that tank should be cleaned? Does every bit of sand need removed once a month? I have read some recommending frequent spot cleans and nothing major for months and others suggesting totla changes more frequently.

I wonder if in the forums history, has anyone ever started in the hobby and posted a diary-of-sorts about the journey? Im thinking the only way I could thank you guys would be to show you the tank, setting it up and finally the occupier moving in.
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Callum B
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 1:03 pm

No worries.

Cleaning wise, all I do is spot check enclosures regularly for bits of cricket, crap etc. They're really not very dirty creatures. Providing you keep up with spot cleaning I personally don't think you ever need to completely clean out a scorpions enclosure.

I'm sure your pet shop would be able to order some clay in for you or you can get it off t'inernet. If not there is a tutorial on here somewhere by Den that goes through how you can use plaster of paris to create a burrow safe substrate.

Tutorials, diaries, pictures and anything else that could help out another scorpion keeper is very welcome on here. Personally I like to see people set up really natural looking enclosures, that look almost like a bit of the scorpion species' habitat in a tank. Plastic plants and ornaments are ok but nothing can beat having a go at a biotope. Do a really natural setup Very Happy lol!!!!!

Sorry I'll stop trying to influence you now, set it up as you like lol. But yer, I think a diary/day by day steps of setting up everything would be interesting and helpful.
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 1:06 pm

Oh yer, and don't be daunted by the substrate mix. It's not an exact science, just mix everything up, wet it, or use the method I mentioned above, and pack it down as hard as you can, then leave to dry.

Simples Smile
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 1:27 pm

+1 to everything Callum has said.

Play sand from a home improvement store is much cheaper than sand from a pet shop, but typically only comes in 50lb bags. However, if you get hooked on scorpions, which is often the case, you'll probably be building more desert vivariums in the future so the sand won't go to waste.

If you can't locate excavator clay, you can also use sculpting clay:

Streettrash wrote:
You can also use regular sculpting clay that they sell at art stores. not the modeling clay that doesn't dry, but the stuff you fire in a kiln for pottery. Usually this comes wet and ready to mold, so what you do is make clay water. Basically you dissolve the clay in a bucket of water and then use the clay water to wet down your sand.

Also you can let the pottery clay dry out and crush it into powder, then mix it into your sand and wet it down.

Good luck and please do keep us posted.
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Den
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 1:52 pm

Quote :
I'm sure your pet shop would be able to order some clay in for you or you can get it off t'inernet. If not there is a tutorial on here somewhere by Den that goes through how you can use plaster of paris to create a burrow safe substrate.

Thanks Callum, but not quite .. Don't use plaster of paris.....otherwise +1 to Callums well written advice Wink

Hi ScorpTrek..The reason you maybe would put a smidgen of coco fiber in the substrate mix is to give it a touch of contrast and/or stability/water retention although with S.mesanensis you don't have to consider water retention as this scorpion as you undoubtedly already know, comes from an arid environment living on sand.
Stability isn't really an issue either if you're going to create a consolidated sand substrate using either clay or hobby grade betonite. Sold under many different brand names, it's basically either a sandy mixture already mixed with sand that you then dampen and allow to dry or the straight betonite that you mix with sand after consulting the mixing instructions on the packaging.

What i prefer to do though is make my own which is very simply done using modelling clay (found in most florists or hobby shops).
Get yourself a 10 liter plastic bucket and put approx 3 liters of water in it. Break of a piece of clay roughly the size of your palm or half a clenched fist and work that with your fingers in the water until the clay has dissolved (using warm water and breaking the clay into smaller pieces quickens the process). You now have a bucket with 3 liters of very dirty water. Fill the bucket now up with sand and mix it well through so that all the sand is wet. Wring out access water (the sand doesn't want to be slopping wet..just well damp) and place the sand in your terrarium in your desired fashion (contoured, flat, sloping etc). Don't pack it down to hard or you may risk it being to hard when dry for your scorpion to dig in it. Place the terrarium in a< warm well ventilated position and allow to dry. You can see how the sand is drying through the terrarium glass and it doesn't matter to much if the last few inches at the bottom of the terrarium is not fully dry before you put your scorpion in.

Whether you use hobby grade consolidated sand mix or make it yourself is totally up to you. The coce fiber in this case would simply be added to give the sand a touch of contrast and make it (maybe) more pleasing to the eye although as i said before, if you're using a consolidated sand mix then coco fiber for S.meseansis is totally optional.

Welcome to the forum Wink


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Den
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 1:58 pm

Quote :
You can also use regular sculpting clay that they sell at art stores. not the modeling clay that doesn't dry,

Quote :
which is very simply done using modelling clay (found in most florists or hobby shops).

There seems to be a conflict here and maybe the clay i mentioned is actually known as sculpting clay.

Quote :
Usually this comes wet and ready to mold, so what you do is make clay water

Regardless, this is the way to know it Wink



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Callum B
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 2:17 pm

I couldn't remember what is was. I just knew it was something you used for arty things lol. Cheers for correcting me Den.

I use coco fibre as its a cheap way to bulk up the mixture a bit and it makes the substrate look a bit more natural in my opinion. Pesticide/chemical free compost could also be used as well.

Shebeens advice about cheap sand is good also. I can't beleive the price of some of the branded reptile sands. I've seen little bags of it going for nearly £10!! B n Q play sand is a few quid for a huge sac. Way better value, especially when you inevitably realise that you want more scorpions Very Happy lol.
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 2:48 pm

I cant believe how helpful you guys have been. I really appreciate the guide by Den and tips from Callum and Shebeen on how to make the substrate.

It was definitely one of the big parts daunting and confusing me. I've learned a lot more here in a few hours than I did in a long time of reading online.

I also like Den's subtle attempts to influence my design choices for the Viv Laughing Perhaps if I post a diary of setting it up, he can chip in with suggestions. Smile

I had NO CLUE than B&Q did sand. I will hop in there soon. I think tonight im going to bite the bullet and order the Exo Terra Vivarium. This is exciting.

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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 2:58 pm

Respect to you for being able to research for a year before getting one! Most people buy first - research later.
Welcome to the forum and I hope you will stay here and be active, share pictures and experiences, and eventually be able to give advice to other new members Smile
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 3:03 pm

Scorpeace wrote:
Respect to you for being able to research for a year before getting one! Most people buy first - research later.
Welcome to the forum and I hope you will stay here and be active, share pictures and experiences, and eventually be able to give advice to other new members Smile

Thanks!

I hate being unprepared and...not knowing. I didn't want to spend money and get an animal and have it die or ruin my experience through my own ignorance of the subject. I have read quite a few forums and used guides online to get a good idea of how scorpions SHOULD be kept. I have also read quite a lot of posts, as you mention, of people buying scorps and having no idea how to keep them.

I found it odd though that the 6 questions I asked were all very basic yet I couldn't find concrete answers. Im really glad to have you guys to help out. I'll probably think up some other questions, like what bulb to buy. Laughing

My plan is to make a wee diary when I get the tank of a newbie setting up and getting started and hopefully, pics of my first scorpion happy in its new home.

Im actually going about ordering the VIV as we speak.
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 3:17 pm

You dont need a bulb for it Smile Actually UV lights are bad for some scorpions.


Last edited by Scorpeace on 5/17/2012, 3:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 3:18 pm

To be fair, even though all the info you were wanting is somewhere on here, it can be a reall ball ache trying to sift through pages and pages of stuff to get it.

It's generally useful to search when looking for info. on a particular species of scorp as you type in the name and it gives you all the threads that have it mentioned in. When your trying to search something like substrates etc. though, you'll find that nearly every thread has these words in it so you can end up with hundreds of posts to look through and most of them aren't even about the substrate you want.

Oooo and another great thing about creating naturalistic enclosures is it means you have to go out into the great outdoors to find stuff, which is way more fun than picking up a fake hide off a shelf lol.
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 3:21 pm

Scorpeace wrote:
You dont need a bulb for it Smile Actually UV lights are bad for scorpions.

I was thinking more for the heatlamp. I know the UV is baaaaad for Scorps.

Scorps cant see the colour red right? So an IR light can be used, or so I've read.


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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 3:22 pm

Yes IR bulbs are fine to use.
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 3:23 pm

Callum B wrote:
Yes IR bulbs are fine to use.

Phew thats what I thought. I just ordered the viv! So there is no turning back now.
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/17/2012, 10:35 pm

Great advices have been given by the bros above and i need not add more.

Hope to see your new tank being setup nicely soon mate Smile
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/18/2012, 9:04 am

GS wrote:
Great advices have been given by the bros above and i need not add more.

Hope to see your new tank being setup nicely soon mate Smile

Thanks for wishing me well! I have the tank ordered and should have it within a week-ish. Im going to hop through to B&Q at some point next week and get some play-sand and also order excavator clay off of the internet.

Im thinking of how to design and lay-out the Viv, what to use...

Its exciting and I think im definitely going to use my digital camera and make a wee 'Diary of a Newbie'. Setting up the tank and getting things ready.

Im really glad I signed up here, you guys have been a big help.
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/18/2012, 6:07 pm

wow cant wait to see your set up Smile

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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/22/2012, 6:57 am

*~BEX~* wrote:
wow cant wait to see your set up Smile

Thanks, im really looking forward to setting up the tank and making it look authentic.

Im still waiting on the Viv being delivered all the way up here so in the meantime im buying other essentials. On sunday I picked up a plastic tank im going to use to house crickets etc.

What I really want sorted is the Lamp/bulb. What wattage would you guys recommend for my tank? And is there any type of lamp that would be best for the exo terra?
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/22/2012, 7:07 am

A 40 or 60 watt IR bulb should do the job. Exo terras have wire mesh tops so you can put a bulb in one of these http://www.exo-terra.com/en/products/light_dome.php and sit it on the mesh. Or, if you want to do things cheaply, get a cheap lighting fixture and hang the bulb above or inside the enclosure.

The other thing to look into is a dimmer stat for the bulb. They're quite expensive but will cut out the risk of overheating.
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/22/2012, 7:35 am

Callum B wrote:
A 40 or 60 watt IR bulb should do the job. Exo terras have wire mesh tops so you can put a bulb in one of these http://www.exo-terra.com/en/products/light_dome.php and sit it on the mesh. Or, if you want to do things cheaply, get a cheap lighting fixture and hang the bulb above or inside the enclosure.

The other thing to look into is a dimmer stat for the bulb. They're quite expensive but will cut out the risk of overheating.

+1.

Also, there are heat lamps with built-in dimmers.

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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/22/2012, 10:41 am

Be sure not to set the lamp directly on the plastic rib that runs down the center of the exo-terra top. The heat near the bulb is enough to melt the rib and you don't want to ruin your top. Setting the lamp directly on the wire screen is ok.
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PostSubject: Re: I'd love Some Help From You Pro's   5/22/2012, 1:07 pm

Callum B wrote:
A 40 or 60 watt IR bulb should do the job. Exo terras have wire mesh tops so you can put a bulb in one of these and sit it on the mesh. Or, if you want to do things cheaply, get a cheap lighting fixture and hang the bulb above or inside the enclosure.

The other thing to look into is a dimmer stat for the bulb. They're quite expensive but will cut out the risk of overheating.

Thanks. Is the Dome you posted different from a glow light/reflector? Im finding loads of glow light/reflectors on sites but much less of the light domes.

Im glad to know on my Viv I'll be able to place the light on the mesh without fear of it melting. Thanks for the ehads up about the plastic strip though.
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