Types of Scorpions
Of the 1,500 species of scorpion some 100 species have a sting which can be dangerous to humans. However, only experts can tell the difference between many types of scorpions and there is no way of knowing which are the most dangerous. Often you must rely on your supplier to identify them correctly. If you are not confident that he or she has the necessary expertise, buy your scorpions elsewhere.
Pandinus imperator: The Imperial Scorpion/Emperor Scorpion. One of the biggest species of scorpion and probably the best for a novice. These scorpions can grow to some 15cm in length. They are black in colour although they do appear to have a green tinge in a certain light. They originate from West Africa and should be kept in a warm humid habitat as described above. The sting of Pandinus imperator is frequently described as being like that of a bee. However, it is worth remembering that some people develop serious allergic reactions to bee stings.
Recently other Pandinus species have become available. However, these have not been properly identified and are often more aggressive. They are smaller than Emperor scorpions and are generally labeled as Red Claw Scorpions by traders. Not recommended for novice scorpion owners.
Scorpions belonging to the Genus Heterometrus are often as large as Emperor scorpions and should be kept in much the same way. They originate from forests in Asia and also make good pets, their sting is said to be of similar potency as that of Pandinus. The most commonly available species are Heterometrus spinifer (Thai Black) and Heterometrus javanensis (Javanese Jungle Scorpion).
Species not recommended for the novice
Hadrurus sp: Hairy Scorpions. A large scorpion (10cm) which does well in the desert setup described above and requires no water (getting all it needs from the atmosphere) – they dislike being misted. They are also considerably more aggressive than Emperor Scorpions with a more potent sting.
Scorpions from the Genus Androctonus are relatively large scorpions from Africa and the Middle East. They are extremely dangerous and care should be taken as some of the larger species (particularly A. bicolor) have a passing resemblance to the Emperor Scorpion – make sure you are confident that your dealer knows exactly what they are selling. Androctonus bicolor have more slender pedipalps (commonly called pincers or claws) than Pandinus imperator and a much thicker tail. Note: Narrow pedipalps on a scorpion often indicate a potent sting.
Bark Scorpions (eg Centruroides and Tityus) should also be avoided by those new to keeping scorpions. Bark scorpions can be recognised as they carry their tail curled to the side of the body rather than arching over the top (ie. the traditional image of scorpions).