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Emperor Scorpion

The world's largest scorpion

Order: Scorpiones (Scorpionida)

Family: Scorpionidae

Genus & Species: Pandinus imperator


Emperor scorpions are one of the largest of all scorpions, but not the longest. They grow very fast and have an average length of 4-8 inches. Their exoskeleton is a dark blue or black, and occasionally dark brown or even greenish. The pincers are granular in texture and have a reddish colouring. Sensory "hairs" surround the pincers, tail, and telson. The tail, also know as the metasoma, is long and made up of six segments. It ends in a large ball called the telson which contains the venom glands. The telson ends in a sharp carve which serves as the sting. The thorax is made up of four sections each with a pair of legs on the undersurface. Behind the fourth pair of legs are ventral comb-like structures known as pectines. The pectines are noticeably longer in the males than the females and are a good way of distinguishing the sexes.

The emperor scorpion is a relative of the spiders and has only eight legs despite its lobster-like appearance. Two pedipalpi (pinchers) are located near the front of its body and are strong enough to draw blood from a human. They are venomous but rarely sting humans and are not lethal to humans unless they are allergic to the venom. The sting is said to feel like a bee sting. Emperor scorpions are rather docile and can be handled, although it is not recommended.

The emperor scorpion has a life span of eight years.


Emperor scorpions are found in the hot tropical forests and savannas of Africa. Like all scorpions, they like to burrow beneath the soil and can be found under rocks and other debris. They are located in the countries of Togo, Ghana, Chad, Benin, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and the Congo region.


Emperor scorpions feed on almost anything in the wild, including insects, arachnids, mice and lizards. In captivity they are fed crickets, mealworms, woodlice, butterworms, and pinkie mice. The young are fed crushed up pinhead crickets.


Emperor scorpions reach sexual maturity around the age of four, although in captivity it has been reached around the age of one. The gestation period is 7-9 months. The young grow in the mother and are born alive, with an average litter of 9-32 young. The young are white at first but become darker after each molt.


The emperor scorpion's main enemy is man. Overcollection by pet owners has greatly reduced their numbers in Togo and Ghana. They are on the CITES II species list as threatened.

The mothers are occasionally cannibalistic and have been known to eat a few of their young.


There are 12 000 species of scorpions found worldwide.


1. "Scorpion", Funk & Wagnall's Wildlife Encyclopedia, pg 1993 vol 17, 1974, BPC Pub Lmt, USA