Determining an Emperor Scorpion's Gender

Emperor Scorpion, Pandinus imperator (Scorpionidae), from Africa.

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The emperor scorpion is a species of scorpion that is native to the rainforests and savannas in West Africa. Adult emperor scorpions grow to about 20 centimeters long and can live for around six to eight years. It is one of the largest scorpions in the world. The body of the adult emperor scorpion is black, but under ultraviolet light, it glows pastel green or blue. 

Determining Emperor Scorpion Gender

If you are interested in breeding emperor scorpions, you will need to tell males from females. Just a note: if you do intend to breed them, please think about how you will find homes for all the offspring.

It takes some practice to tell the difference between male and female scorpions. When sexing emperor scorpions, it is best to examine the pectines—these are small comb-like appendages on the ventral abdomen (underside) of the scorpion. The pectines (sometimes also called pectens) are thought to have a sensory function, primarily to vibrations. In males, these are larger and more prominent, although it may take some experience comparing males and females to use this as a reliable indicator. Adult males also tend to be a bit smaller than females, but this is unreliable as an exact tool to differentiate males and females.

Emperor Scorpion Breeding

Emperor scorpions reach sexual maturity between the ages of two and three. The breeding may occur at any time of year, as long as there are warm, humid conditions. The male emperor scorpion will deposit a spermatophore on the ground and then the male will position the female over it. Once the female is in position, she will pick up the spermatophore and place it inside her genital opening. The gestation period can take as long as 15 months. 

A mature female emperor scorpion can give birth to 15 to 20 baby scorpions. The babies are usually about two to three centimeters in length at birth and are born a snow-white color. During the first several weeks, the baby emperor scorpions are carried on the mother scorpion's back. While on her back, the babies will eat from the prey the mother scorpion has caught. As the baby emperor scorpions mature, they will change color from snow white to brown, and eventually black. They will begin to wander from their mother's back and begin to forage for their food. Once the babies have moved off the mother's back, they can be removed from their mother's cage and placed into their own cage and continue to grow on their own. The best diet for growing baby emperor scorpions is chopped adult crickets. 

Emperor Scorpions as Endangered Species

Do note that emperor scorpions have become popular in the pet trade and they are protected by CITES. CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is a treaty to protect endangered plants and animals. Be sure to check with a local pet store or well-regarded breeder to learn more about emperor scorpions and how to safely house (and breed) them.