John Bokma MexIT
freelance Perl programmer

Housing a Pandinus imperator

Thursday, March 20, 2008 | 2 comments

As soon as we returned from our shopping in Plaza las Americas, I started to work on the housing for the Emperor scorpion (Pandinus imperator, imported from Ghana, Africa) I had bought in the pet shop, Mascota. I had decided to use the terrarium of an adult female Centruroides gracilis to house the Pandinus imperator, because of its size. So first I had to move the Centruroides gracilis to a new enclosure, and remove the decorations (pieces of wood), the water dish, and substrate from the terrarium. After that I had the following to house the Emperor scorpion:

Note that this is my first Pandinus imperator, so make sure to read other sources on how to house this species as well. I do have experience with keeping Diplocentrus melici, a Mexican species that requires high relative humidity, though and also did some research before I started on this terrarium.


I decided to use 3 layers of substrate to get a total depth of about 14 cm. The Emperor scorpion loves to burrow, and since it's a large species 14 cm is probably close to the minimum required for this species.

For the first layer I used about 1 liter of fine sand, mixed with very fine sand, which I mixed with about 3 liters of Jungle Bed, and the chunks of wood, and fine wood powder to create a compact layer (ratio 1:3).

For the second layer I used the rest of the sand mix, 1.5 liters, mixed with about 6 liters of Jungle Bed (ratio 1:4).

Finally, for the top layer I used only Jungle Bed (2 liters).

Not mentioned in the list, but something I added as well was substrate from my Zophobas morio ("superworms") breeding box. This substrate has been processed by larvae several times, and is very fine, and has a very dark brown color. I added about a cup to the second layer, and about half a cup to the top layer.

Emperor scorpion terrarium, top view.
Emperor scorpion terrarium, top view.


For decoration I used a few pieces of rotten tree limb - soft wood, with holes in them, some of the smaller ones made by Zophobas morio larvae ("superworms"). I pushed the pieces of wood firmly into the substrate. The water dish was added in a corner of the terrarium, behind the largest piece of wood. I also added some small branches and some pieces of dry leaves.

Emperor scorpion terrarium, side view.
Emperor scorpion terrarium, side view.

Note: some articles I've read recommend to prevent the scorpion from burrowing under the water dish because it might hurt itself or get stuck if the burrow collapses. I can not imagine that a plastic water dish, even filled with water, can hurt an adult Emperor scorpion. Still, I think it's good advice for another reason: a tilted water dish can not hold much water if at all, and putting it back into place might collaps the burrow. So in the near future I will make this change to the scorpion's enclosure.

The adult female Pandinus imperator in its terrarium, next to my hand.
The adult female Pandinus imperator in its terrarium, next to my hand.


With the substrate and pieces of wood in place I poured carefully about 6 liters of water on the substrate. If you are able to prepare the terrarium before you purchase the Emperor scorpion, I recommend to soak the substrate though. But the pouring method worked quite well. I used a spray can with about 1 liter of water to clean the substrate of the glass, and add additional moisture.

Adding the scorpion

Finally, I carefully added the scorpion to its new housing. The scorpion was sold to us in a little carton box which I had cut open very careful with a knife. After the scorpion had moved away from the largest piece of wood, a small log, I lifted the log, and used a spoon to make a beginning of a burrow.

Pandinus imperator, adult gravid female in its terrarium.
Pandinus imperator, adult gravid female in its terrarium.

In the above photo you can see the Emperor scorpion. I had bought this scorpion because I was quite sure it was an adult gravid female. At the time of writing, the 3rd of April, I am 100% sure about both because she's hiding in a burrow with scorplings on her back.


In the near future I want to add a piece of glass with a 25 mm hole drilled in the center as a cover to the enclosure. I use this kind of cover with both the Diplocentrus melici species I keep as well as with a Uropygid species.

Update: Today (17th of April), I made an additional photo, in which the three substrate layers are clearly visible:

Three different substrate layers.
Three different substrate layers.

The total depth of the substrate is 14 cm (about 5.5 inch).

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