Keeping Bugs Alive

24 February, 2008

Question
We have a pet Black Rock Scorpion and it has just had babies. We have had her about a year and she has been kept on her own all that time. Does this mean that scorpions are parthenogenetic or that can they store sperm? Now that we have the babies, how should we look after them?

Black Rock Scorpion

A Black Rock Scorpion
Photographer: Alan Henderson, Source: Museum Victoria

Answer
Congratulations on the birth of your baby scorpions. Black Rock Scorpions are not parthenogenetic: they cannot clone themselves or produce babies without mating. They are also not able to store sperm. Scorpions simply have a very long gestation period: they give birth about 16 months after mating. So, as you’ve only had your scorpion for a year, she would have been pregnant when you acquired her. 

The babies should still be on their mother’s back – they will stay there for the first weeks of their life. It is important that you do not disturb the mother while she is carrying her babies. If you do, she may reject the young and eat them.

Once the babies start to leave their mother’s back, you should remove them and set them up in individual enclosures: they will eat each other if they are not separated.

You should feed your scorpions live crickets and cockroaches. The prey should be about one quarter of the size of the scorpion they are intended for. Crickets and cockroaches have powerful mandibles: you don’t want the prey turning into the predator! Spray your scorpions with a mist sprayer daily and provide them with a moist water sponge. The substrate at one end of their enclosure should be kept damp.

More detailed information about how to keep Black Rock Scorpions can be found in the new Museum Victoria publication, Bugs Alive: A Guide to Keeping Australian Invertebrates. This is an excellent resource for amateur and professional bug keepers and is available at the Melbourne Museum Shop ($32.95, Museum members receive a 10% discount).

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