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 An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions

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ian.baxter.5494
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PostSubject: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/13/2013, 1:00 pm


robert44 wrote:
I wonder how cold it is down in there burrow where they hibernate? Also, do you feel it is necessary to let them hibernate in captivity or can one keep them at a constant temp all year?

I would expect that it's cooler than the day time high and warmer than the night time low, but I don't have any hard data. I'm pretty sure it's not going to be warm.

I'm not sure if a hibernation (or "cool down") period is necessary for H. arizonensis, but the consensus seems to be that it's beneficial for their optimal health. It's what they do in the wild, so why not let them do it in captivity? I'm sure there are people on here who keep their Haddy's warm all year since hibernation is seldom mentioned in most care guides, maybe one or two will describe their experience?

ian.baxter wrote:

I've reduced the heat thermostat to min, but am a little skeptical to turn off completely because of what the tank is sat on and how cold it can get, in the desert the ground retains a certain amount of heat and arisonensis have been found 6ft underground (which has to hold a certain amount of warmth for them).

If it's warm enough for you, it's warm enough for your Haddy. The depth of the burrow has more to do with following the moisture line as the desert dries out than it has to do with temperature.

ian.baxter wrote:

I do agree with what you are saying and I know certain things in animals are hard wired into their biology, but she is captive bred as far as I know, do you think this would make some difference on how she is used to living?

I doubt that she's captive bred, if so, she's quite rare. The vast majority of Desert Hairys available in the trade are wild caught. This is because they are extremely hard to raise from birth in captivity and they are so plentiful in the wild. The instinct to go dormant during cold weather is hard wired and will be present in both captive bred and wild caught specimens.



ian.baxter wrote:

I'll remove her food for now aswell and feed the crickets to the beardy, again this is something I'm a little skeptical on because I know the shop I got Matilda from fed her twice a week and I'm not sure they took the hibernation into account, again do you think this would make a difference to things?

She won't eat while she's in hibernation. If she's still active, offer her 1 or 2 crickets a week. You can't over feed her but you can make her fat.


I'm sure quite how its goin to post, but the replies are from Shebeen.
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ian.baxter.5494
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/13/2013, 1:03 pm

I thought I should of put the authors name lol

Also forgot to put that this is continued from: Subject: Re: Signs of an unhappy and unhealthy scorpion.

I'll get used to this yet Very Happy

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robert44
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/13/2013, 1:33 pm

I'm curious if anyone thinks scorps "know" when the seasons change if they are kept at constant temp and lighting conditions? For example, would a desert hairy know when it's Winter and want to hibernate if kept warm and on a 12 hour light cycle?

I believe some of my domestic snakes know Winter because they stop eating when it gets cold outside even though it's warm inside. I guess they feel the pressure changes from passing cold fronts??? I wonder if scorps and other inverts can do this as well?
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/13/2013, 2:08 pm

I've spent the last few days away from home after setting up the new lighting system for my haddy to give her/him (pic on sexing section if anyone can help) some quiet time from kids and returned today to check on everything.

She (for arguments sake) was quite active when I got in and moved to a hide when I aproched the tank, I placed a small slow (kinda had no back legs) cricket in and misted the tank then filled the small water dish. She came back out after this and continued about the tank as if I wasnt there. I see this as a good sign as I dont think my animals should feel threatened in any way and should continue on there normal days routine.

I think you are defiantly right Shebeen/Yames, she is not digging again yet and the ambient temp of the room is a lot cooler than in summer so yes she is def digging to cool off. Heat mat will be removed and place on the back of the tank.






Just a slight change on the subject, I have a pandinus imperator coming on wednesday and was wondering if putting it in the left hand tank with decor to shade the light and increase the humidity would be ok or if I should move the tanks further apart and keep the light towards the haddy on the right? and I will be closing off the top of the tank to help raise the humidity.
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ian.baxter.5494
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/13/2013, 2:13 pm

That is a really good point robert

Pressure is felt and I think would almost certainly be a big thing to an animal to determine the time of day and season.
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/13/2013, 5:41 pm

ian.baxter wrote:
She (for arguments sake) was quite active when I got in and moved to a hide when I aproched the tank, I placed a small slow (kinda had no back legs) cricket in and misted the tank then filled the small water dish.
H. arizonensis do not need misting. You can offer them fresh water from a small bowl or lid once a month. Fill the bowl and let it evaporate over a day or two. If they've just emerged from hibernation, definitely offer them water; it's the only time I've actually seen mine drink.

The only time I add water to the substrate is during the Sonoran Desert monsoon season. I have a false bottom in 1/3 of my Haddy enclosure. Once or twice between July and September, I'll fill the false bottom with about 1/4 inch of water and let it soak up into the substrate. Some people just pour a cup or two of water directly onto their substrate on one side of their tank. Some people don't add water at all. If you add water, make sure at least half of your tank remains dry. H. arizonensis, like most desert species, are susceptible to mycosis if kept too humid for a prolonged length of time.

ian.baxter wrote:
I think you are defiantly right Shebeen/Yames, she is not digging again yet and the ambient temp of the room is a lot cooler than in summer so yes she is def digging to cool off. Heat mat will be removed and place on the back of the tank.
Haddys are obligate burrowers, so given the opportunity, they're going to dig. My Haddy has 6 tunnel entrances and she's in a 12x12x12 inch tank. Glad to hear you've moved the heat mat.

ian.baxter wrote:



Just a slight change on the subject, I have a pandinus imperator coming on wednesday and was wondering if putting it in the left hand tank with decor to shade the light and increase the humidity would be ok or if I should move the tanks further apart and keep the light towards the haddy on the right? and I will be closing off the top of the tank to help raise the humidity.
What size Emperor will you be getting? Why do you need the light at all? Live plants? During the day, most scorpions stay in their burrows out of the light, and at night, well, it's dark. How will you be heating the Emperor enclosure? Emperors don't have a dormant period so you'll need to keep one side of the tank in the 80F range. I use an IR heat lamp with a dimmer. Will you be putting a false bottom in the Emperor enclosure? What size are those tanks?
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/14/2013, 10:23 am

The actual age of the imperator is unknown but it was shown as large from bugzuk, so I'm assuming it will be almost fully grown if not already.

I have a heat mat on the back of the emperor tank for heat that is thermostatically controlled.

I am putting a sandy soil mix of substrate with snake bedding mixed in to create an earthy ground for the emperor and allowing it to dry out, this should hold some moisture when the tank is misted helping to keep up the humidity. As yet no I am not putting a false bottom in but if it is something you recommend I will come up with something for when I clean the tank out the first time.

The light was originally fitted with a low watt uv light for personal viewing, but I adapted it for heat purposes, now that I have moved the heat mat to the back of the tank it is no longer needed so I can replace the bulb again with the uv light.

Both tanks are 35x35x35 exoterra, so the emperor tank needs the top closing of or it will dry up too quick and not hold the humidity level.

There is currently (at time of typing this, 1400hrs) a red heat lamp in the light fitting and my haddy is out and about in the tank, tail raised and pincers extended in front moving to another hide (just an observation at this time).

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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/14/2013, 2:41 pm

Ian, be sure to read the [ASA] Forest Scorpions' Caresheet, if you haven't already.

For your substrate, you want to use ground coco-fiber (eco-earth, plantation soil) or peat (or a combination of the two). If neither is available, you can use an organic potting soil that is free of pesticides and fertilizers. I prefer coco-fiber. It's readily available, retains moisture, holds burrows, and you can tell at a glance if it's dry or wet. Sand will not retain moisture. Sandy soil may retain some moisture, depending on the humus content, but soil tends to turn to mud. Snake bedding is unnecessary and should not be used.

The substrate in an Emperor enclosure should stay damp all the time but not soaking wet. A handful squeezed should produce a couple drops of water. You can achieve this by poring water directly onto the substrate when it starts to dry, or, by using a false bottom that's periodically filled with water. Misting is an ineffective way to get moisture into the substrate where it's needed. If your substrate is kept damp, the humidity in the air will take care of itself.

Definitely close off most (all?) of the top of your Emperor tank. It will help retain heat as well as humidity. You may also need to use the IR lamp on your Emperor tank if the heat mat can't maintain one side at around 29C.
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/14/2013, 4:39 pm

Thanks Shebeen, and I have read the care sheet Smile

I am having to use this substrate due to error in a delivery which means it wont arrive until after the emperor now Sad so I have temp improvised with what I have left until it arrives, I put the snake bedding in to help hold in some moisture, though there is less sand in than I thought prob only about 5%.

should I still change it as I had planned or do you think it will be ok for a while so not to waste resources?

I have read up on bottom feeding the tank with water by using a straw, is this a good method for this kind of set up or am I better off doing it from the top?

Is it known if scorps can actually see uv light and does it cause any kind of distress to them or hurt their eyes? cos I'v been getting mixed reviews on this
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/15/2013, 12:47 am

I think most feel UV light is damaging for scorps. Use red IR lamps for heating.
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/15/2013, 11:53 am

Thanks robert but I didnt actually mean for heating lol
I use uv (black light) to watch there activity at night, its a 12 led low watt bulb that i use, which just dimly lights the tank and scorp enough for watching it.
It is a bit of a grey area I have found, but dont want to cause any stress or harm to my scorps.
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/15/2013, 12:18 pm

ian.baxter wrote:
I am having to use this substrate due to error in a delivery which means it wont arrive until after the emperor now Sad so I have temp improvised with what I have left until it arrives, I put the snake bedding in to help hold in some moisture, though there is less sand in than I thought prob only about 5%.

should I still change it as I had planned or do you think it will be ok for a while so not to waste resources?
It depends on what you mean by "a while". Emperors are pretty hardy so a week or two on improvised substrate is probably ok. I still don't think the snake litter is necessary. I guess you could use it as ground cover over part of your tank but I certainly wouldn't mix it into the substrate. As soon as you can, however, you should replace your improvised substrate with something more appropriate like 6 inches of coco-fiber.

ian.baxter wrote:
I have read up on bottom feeding the tank with water by using a straw, is this a good method for this kind of set up or am I better off doing it from the top?
I like to use false bottoms in forest habitats because I feel they do the best job of keeping moisture in the substrate. Others feel they're unnecessary and add too much weight to large enclosures. A gravel false bottom in your 45x45 Exo Terra will add 8-10 lbs. HydroBalls are a lighter alternative to gravel, and a wicked false bottom is even lighter. Whether to use a false bottom is up to you. You can add one later, but it will require removing all your substrate.

ian.baxter wrote:
Is it known if scorps can actually see uv light and does it cause any kind of distress to them or hurt their eyes? cos I'v been getting mixed reviews on this
Scorpions are highly sensitive to UV light and prolonged exposure causes undo stress and can lead to health issues. Occasional short term viewing under a UV light, say for taking pictures, is not considered harmful. Scorpions are less sensitive to light in the red wavelengths so they're undisturbed (or appear undisturbed) by the red light given off by IR heat lamps.
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/15/2013, 1:22 pm

robert44 wrote:
I'm curious if anyone thinks scorps "know" when the seasons change if they are kept at constant temp and lighting conditions? For example, would a desert hairy know when it's Winter and want to hibernate if kept warm and on a 12 hour light cycle?

I believe some of my domestic snakes know Winter because they stop eating when it gets cold outside even though it's warm inside. I guess they feel the pressure changes from passing cold fronts??? I wonder if scorps and other inverts can do this as well?
In reptiles, it's called brumation. In arthropods, it called diapause. It's triggered by environmental changes, including photoperiod (day length), barometric pressure, humidity, and temperature. In reptiles, there are also biological triggers that operate independent of environmental conditions. I don't know if scorpions have biological triggers, they're still not well understood in reptiles, but I suspect that they do.
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/15/2013, 4:40 pm

Thanks shebeen.
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/15/2013, 5:59 pm

Thats some great insight Thanks shebeen Smile

shebeen wrote:
In reptiles, it's called brumation. In arthropods, it called diapause. It's triggered by environmental changes, including photoperiod (day length), barometric pressure, humidity, and temperature. In reptiles, there are also biological triggers that operate independent of environmental conditions. I don't know if scorpions have biological triggers, they're still not well understood in reptiles, but I suspect that they do.

This is (I think) exactly what happened to me when my van froze up the other month and where my noticeable probs started.


An observation; I woke up this morning (after doing the recent changes to the tank) to find my haddy curled up in the front corner of the tank. This isnt a normal observation at this time of day, checking the temp of the tank it was low (about 16C) I know this is about right for desert night temp, but not as the day progresses. so I re-applied the heat lamp to bring up the temp, about a couple of mins (if that) later the haddy moved to be under the lamp, about 5 mins later it was moving about the tank hunting (moving from hide to hide and climbing on top of hides holding position motionless as they do) and spent most of the rest of the day like this until the timer shut down the light.

My question is; are haddys nocturnal?

because Matilda (as i call her/him) is more active through the day and always seems to of been the same way, there was only the first couple of months where I wouldnt see matilda and I put that down to a change in suroundings and needing to feel safe again after been moved (bought).
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/15/2013, 6:02 pm

I'm not making anymore changes to the tank for a while cos I dont want to stress matilda out. Sad
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/15/2013, 6:05 pm

Oh and thanks very much for the links to creating a false bottom shebeen I am goin to implement that as soon as the new substrate arrive Smile
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/15/2013, 7:25 pm

ian.baxter wrote:

My question is; are haddys nocturnal?

All scorpions are nocturnal. Some are less light sensitive than others and can occasionally be found out of hiding during the day, but most stay hidden during daylight hours. In 2 years, I've only seen my Emperor out once during the day. But then, Emps are pet holes and I rarely see her at all. My Haddy is out quite often at night but usually stays under ground during the day.
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/15/2013, 8:34 pm

ian.baxter.5494 wrote:
An observation; I woke up this morning (after doing the recent changes to the tank) to find my haddy curled up in the front corner of the tank. This isnt a normal observation at this time of day, checking the temp of the tank it was low (about 16C) I know this is about right for desert night temp, but not as the day progresses. so I re-applied the heat lamp to bring up the temp, about a couple of mins (if that) later the haddy moved to be under the lamp, about 5 mins later it was moving about the tank hunting (moving from hide to hide and climbing on top of hides holding position motionless as they do) and spent most of the rest of the day like this until the timer shut down the light.

Scorpions are endothermic so I'm not surprised that you found your Haddy curled up when it was cold. Nor am I surprised that it became more active when you increased the temperature. This sounds like normal behavior given the conditions.

This time of year, I don't heat my Haddy enclosure and the temperature in the tank fluctuates between 16C and 19C from night to day (I keep my house pretty cold). Under these conditions, my Haddy has gone dormant for the winter and I don't expect to see her for a month or so.

The night temps in the Sonoran Desert are actually around 7C this time of year. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/16/2013, 12:59 pm

Those pics you posted on the other chat are great Shebeen, I can see now what HE lol is trying to do.
Would I be better moving him into the 45x45x45 tank I have and how often and more to the point how do you clean it out?

I was told to clean my emperors out every 3 months (ish) and my haddy i judged according to the feces that was left by crickets etc..
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/16/2013, 10:43 pm

ian.baxter.5494 wrote:
Those pics you posted on the other chat are great Shebeen, I can see now what HE lol is trying to do.
Would I be better moving him into the 45x45x45 tank I have and how often and more to the point how do you clean it out?

I was told to clean my emperors out every 3 months (ish) and my haddy i judged according to the feces that was left by crickets etc..
I thought your Haddy was already in a 45x45x45 tank.

There's no need to replace the substrate in desert enclosures. A weekly spot cleaning to remove uneaten prey parts is all that's necessary. Forest enclosures need weekly spot cleanings plus new substrate once a year. Because of the humidity, uneaten prey in forest enclosures can lead to mite outbreaks. Isopods or springtails can be used in forest enclosures to clean up prey parts that you don't see or can't get to. Scorpion and prey feces don't present a problem.
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/18/2013, 5:10 am

No, both the scorps have a 35x35x35 tank the 45x45x45 tank I use for hoppers for my beardy at min.

I've ordered the clay n sand and will change the haddy out as the weather changes.

Thanks shebeen Smile
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/18/2013, 7:33 am

Am I right shebeen that the mix is 10% clay - 30% sand?

Surely the other way round would be too dense for a haddy to dig out??
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/18/2013, 12:09 pm

You want between 10% and 20% excavator clay mixed with your sand. For your 45x45x45 Exo Terra, I would start with a 50lbs sack of play sand and two 5lbs bags of excavator clay. Mix it in batches of 5 scoops sand, 1 scoop clay.

Work in layers of 2 inches, allowing each layer to dry before proceeding to the next. This should speed overall drying time, but it's a long process no matter how you do it, after all, you're drying 60lbs of wet sand. Also, leave the substrate along the front of the tank shallow (1-2 inches deep). This area tends to fill with excavated substrate and if there's no where for it to go, it ends up piled against the doors and leaking out the vents.


Last edited by shebeen on 1/19/2013, 12:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: An open topic/conversation on captivity care for scorpions   1/19/2013, 9:11 am

Thanks Shebeen

It looks like all the substrate has arrived and the emperor isnt comin now due to weather conditions.

Do you think it is a good time to sort the haddy out or shall I wait so not to cause anymore stress at this time?
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