Phylum Arthropoda, Class Arachnida, Order Scorpiones, Family Scorpanidae, Scorpions

Pandinus imperator


HABITAT: Tropical forest and open savanna where it hides under rocks, burrows beneath the soil, or cohabits termite mounds.

APPEARANCE: The largest scorpion known, (length to 20 cm (8 in); weight to 30 g (1 oz). Its black body bears large, blackish-red pincers with a granular appearance. The long tail, which arches back over the body, is tipped with a sharp curved stinger that delivers venom produced from a gland in the attached bulb.

DIET:  It preys upon ground-dwelling insects, spiders, and other invertebrates as well as an occasional baby lizard, snake, or mouse. These large scorpions rarely sting small prey; instead they grasp the prey in powerful pincers and tear it apart. The venom is reserved for larger prey or defense.

REPRODUCTION/DEVELOPMENT:  During mating, the male finds a suitable spot where he deposits his sperm packet, called a spermatophore. He then engages the female in an elaborate mating dance above the spermatophore with the male holding up the pincers of the female with his own, and carefully maneuvering her over the spermatophore, which she draws up into her genital pore. The eggs are fertilized, and the female carries them internally. After a 7 to 9 month gestation period, she gives birth to between 9 to 32 live young. The newborn climb onto the mother’s back, protected from predators by her size and aggressive behavior. Until the young are capable of hunting on their own, the mother feeds them by killing insects which are left on the floor of the burrow or other enclosure where the young can climb down and feed in safety.

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY:  Predators include birds, bats, small mammals, large spiders, centipedes, large lizards, and other scorpions. Life span: 5 to 8 years.

REMARKS: Sensory hairs on the pincers and tail enable the scorpion to detect prey and danger through vibrations from the air and ground. Like all scorpions, it has poor eyesight (despite having 6 to 12 eyes), good hearing, and a good sense of touch.