Scorpion keepers are always on the lookout for unique, beautiful, and rare species to add to their collections, and there are few things more exciting than discovering a species that is both rare and suitable for captivity. Such is the case with Centruroides bicolor.
Centruroides bicolor is a tree-dwelling scorpion species. They have specific requirements for warm temperatures, high humidity, and tall enclosures.
Although the ecology of this species is poorly researched, in this article, I will tell you everything I know about Centruroides bicolor and how to care for them.
Quick Notes about Centruroides Bicolor
|Buthid scorpions and Bark scorpions
|Terrestrial / arboreal
|Tank size (minimum)
|15 gallon (~20 liters)
|4 – 5 inches (or 10 – 12 cm)
|75 – 86°F (24 – 30°C)
|70 – 80 %
|up to 6 years
|Dark brown and ellow
Etymology of Centruroides Bicolor
The genus name “Centruroides” is derived from the Greek words “Kentron”, meaning “Stinger or sharp point”, and “Oura”, meaning “tail”, which refers to the scorpion’s distinctive stinger tail.
The species name “Bicolor” is of Latin origin and translates to “Two-colored” likely referring to two distinct colors on the scorpion’s body.
Basically, the scientific name Centruroides bicolor can be translated as “Two-colored scorpion with sharp tail”.
Taxonomy of Centruroides Bicolor
- Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
- Phylum: Arthropoda (Arthropods)
- Subphylum: Chelicerata (Chelicerates)
- Class: Arachnida (Arachnids)
- Order: Scorpiones (Scorpions)
- Family: Buthidae (Buthid Scorpions)
- Genus: Centruroides
- Species: bicolor
Distribution of Centruroides Bicolor
Habitat of Centruroides Bicolor
This species is arboreal, typically found amid vegetation, on the trunks of fallen trees, in cracks, beneath bark, and so forth. It is often spotted in proximity to human structures.
The distribution of this species ranges from the ocean coast to elevations as high as 1670 meters above sea level.
Description of Centruroides Bicolor
This species can be considered medium-sized. The size of full-grown adult individuals can reach up to 4 – 5 inches (10 – 12 cm) in length, although one scientific study has suggested that the maximum size of Centruroides bicolor can be up to 6 inches (16 cm). Males are longer and thinner than females.
- Color. The body, pincers (pedipalp, chela, and manus), and the tip of the tail with the stinger have a dark brown color, while the rest are brightly colored in yellow. Immature individuals have light colors, lightly marked, lacking the typical dark coloration of the final segment of the abdomen and the stinger present in adults. Additionally, they have a clear, yellowish-white line along the dorsum of the mesosoma.
- Pectine teeth.Pectine teeth are usually between 23-26 in females and 25-28 in males. However, according to another study, (Furtheron Francke & Stockwell) males have 27 – 28 (mode 27) and females have 23 – 28 (mode 26) pectinal teeth.
- Pedipalp. The fixed finger of the chela has nine rows of granules. The inner surface of the patella (the second segment of the pedipalp) is not continuous but has interruptions or gaps. The internodorsal carina on the pedipalp chela is present and granular.
Lifespan of Centruroides Bicolor
Depending on the temperature and conditions, Centruroides bicolor generally live for 4 – 6 years. Their short lifespan is closely correlated with their fast growth and reproduction.
Typical Behavior of Centruroides Bicolor
Activity. Centruroides bicolor exhibits typical behaviors for the scorpions. It is nocturnal, meaning it is primarily active during the night. However, it does not mean that you will never see them in the daytime. They are simply less active during this time.
This species is fast and quite active, frequently moving about its environment. It often stays on vertical surfaces, showcasing a climbing behavior. Unlike some other scorpion species, Centruroides bicolor does not typically burrow into substrates.
This scorpion is also a bit skittish and shy, displaying a tendency to be cautious and easily startled by sudden movements or even vibrations.
Sociality. They are solitary. Although these scorpions may coexist with conspecifics to some extent, there is a notable behavior to be aware of—cannibalism. Centruroides bicolor has been observed engaging in cannibalistic behavior, where individuals may prey upon each other, especially in confined spaces or when resources are limited.
Semi-aggressive: Centruroides bicolor get irritated quite easily. So, keep that in mind and avoid putting your fingers too close before assessing their mood. However, if you do not pose an immediate threat to them (for example, grabbing their tail or pinning them down), they generally will not harm you.
Climbers: These scorpions have an amazing ability to climb on almost any object with a sufficiently rough surface. Even more, Centruroides bicolor prefer to molt on a vertical surface. They also exhibit negative geotaxis, a behavior in which they prefer to be upside down.
- Communal: No
- Activity: Average-High
- Peaceful: Semi-aggressive
- Burrowers: No
- Climbers: Yes
- Venomous: Yes
Venom of Centruroides Bicolor
According to the study, its venom causes mild intoxication in humans.
The venom usually induces a range of symptoms, including sharp pain, swelling, and a burning sensation at the site of the sting. However, in some cases, it can be nausea, vomiting, or even tachycardia.
While the effects of the venom can be intense, they are typically temporary, with symptoms diminishing after approximately 3-4 hours.
|Nonetheless, it is important to note that individual reactions to scorpion stings can vary (especially for individuals who are elderly, or children), and in severe cases, medical attention may be required, particularly if there is an allergic response.
DO NOT allow children to touch Centruroides bicolor!
Interesting fact: Scorpions can sting many times, but their venom becomes depleted with each sting.
Diet of Centruroides Bicolor
Like all scorpion species, Centruroides bicolor is opportunistic predator. Generally, these scorpions feed on insects and small invertebrates (e.g., spiders, cockroaches, crickets, centipedes, etc.).
This species does not have strong and powerful pincers and relies mostly on its venom for hunting. Using their poison, they can kill a victim of the same size as themselves. However, if the prey is small or non-struggling, it can be subdued and consumed even without envenomation.
In the terrarium, the acceptable food items include:
- dubia roaches,
- red runner roaches,
- worms, etc
Interesting fact: They use sensory systems (long and very thin sensory hairs located all over the body) other than vision to locate prey.
How Often to Feed Centruroides Bicolor?
By scorpion standards, Centruroides bicolor exhibits fast growth and, accordingly, possesses a relatively high metabolism. Therefore, feeding adults once a week is recommended.
Juveniles may require more food (2 – 3 times per week).
Some Important Feeding Tips:
- Time. Centruroides bicolor is nocturnal. Therefore, it is highly recommended to feed them at night (at least in the evening). By doing so, you will replicate the conditions and environment under which they eat naturally.
- Prey size. Ideally, their food should not be larger than their stomach. Large prey may harm the scorpion.
- Prey activity. Never give them prey that can fight back aggressively. Additionally, do not give them prey that will burrow, jump, or fly around their enclosure. For example, remove the wings, chop the forelimbs, break the legs, or squash the head so that they wiggle and are easily accessible to the scorpions.
- Refuses to eat. Do not leave the live food in the enclosure. If your scorpion does not want to eat you need to remove it the next day. Do not worry, if your scorpions do not eat. Actually, they may not even eat every month! Thus, try again in a week.
- Check the hiding spots. Keep in mind that scorpions often drag and store food in their hiding spots for later consumption. Check them from time to time to prevent any mold, mites, or bacterial contaminations. If it is not eaten in 2 days, remove it.
- Diet Type: Carnivore
- Food Preference: Alive prey.
- Feeding Frequency: 1 time a week (for adults) and 2 – 3 times a week (for babies)
|Centruroides bicolor eat their prey alive. So, if you are a sensitive person, you should not keep them as a pet.
Keeping and Housing Centruroides Bicolor
This species is easy to care for if you know their requirements. To put it in a nutshell, we need to emulate their natural environment meaning: average humidity, high temperature, and some hiding places.
When choosing an enclosure for this species, it’s important to consider that they like to stay on vertical surfaces. This is especially important during their molting process.
In the wild, they molt by hanging onto tree bark and practically slipping out of their old exoskeleton. While this may not be critical during the early stages of their life (up to the L3 stage), it becomes absolutely vital in later stages.
Because of that adult scorpions can be kept in a 5-gallon (20 liters) enclosure, but only if the setup allows for the necessary temperature and humidity to be created and maintained.
Centruroides bicolor prefer temperatures between 75 – 86°F (24 – 30°C). They are relatively sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Adult individuals can survive at room temperature, but it will slow down their metabolism and make them slower.
|Important: As for juveniles, suboptimal temperatures can have a highly negative impact on the molting process, so it is not recommended to keep them outside of the optimal range.
If you need to use heating pads or lamps to maintain temperature, it is important to consider that their placement should allow for one side of their enclosure to be cooler than the other. This will allow them to self-regulate and determine where they want to be.
- Keep the heat lamp only on one side, not the middle.
- The best (safest) option will be to put the heater to the side of the tank. If you use an under the tank heater, it can overheat your substrate and burn or kill molting scorpions there.
The ideal humidity level for Centruroides bicolor is between 70 – 80 %.
Tip: One of the easiest ways to keep the humidity up is to use lots of sphagnum moss inside their Note: Do not spray/mist scorpions directly, it freaks them out and they really hate it.
Important: At the same time, you need to keep in mind that too high humidity may cause fungal infections (mycosis – black patches).
Like most scorpion species, Centruroides bicolor primarily obtain water from their food. However, it has been observed that providing them with a water dish can be beneficial.
By doing so, we not only provide them access to water but also help maintain the humidity levels in their enclosure.
Centruroides bicolor does not require much water, even a small plastic bottle cap is sufficient. You can fill it 1-2 times a month and let it evaporate dry.
Tip: It is preferable to use bottled spring water, but if you choose to use tap water, let it sit for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to dissipate as it can be toxic to scorpions. It’s important to note that the presence of a water dish does not cause fungal infections, only too high humidity levels do.
No special requirements.
Centruroides bicolor is nocturnal. Thus, ambient light will be enough.
Centruroides bicolor glow under black light. Blacklight is also an option to make the environment safe in the house while there is a scorpion living. It can help in locating the scorpion if it escapes its cage.
However, UV lighting is not completely safe for scorpions. It stresses them. The point is that ultraviolet is simply a normal part of the light from the sun. These scorpions do not like to be exposed to the sun.
No special requirement. Centruroides bicolor is not a burrowing species, so they don’t need special substrate.
Basically, you can use anything (soil, gravel, clay, etc.). However, if you have problems with keeping your humidity high, it will be better to use:
- coco fiber (Eco earth),
- peat moss,
- organic topsoil,
- Jungle mix soil,
- Zoo Meds Creatures Creature soil,
- The Bio Dude Terra.
These types of substrate are good for maintaining water which helps to stabilize humidity. Therefore, the substrate should always be kept moist enough. It means that it should hold its shape when you squeeze it. However, not so wet that it drips or pools water.
In my opinion, the simplest and cheapest way is to just use coco fiber.
Important: Do not use only sand! Sand often becomes supersaturated even though the top couple of inches are completely dry.
How often should we change the substrate?
It is still better to change the substrate at least every 6 months to prevent an outbreak of mold or fungi.
Make sure that Centruroides bicolor has lots of hiding places. They are pretty skittish. Decorations provide hiding places (shelter and protection) and minimize their stress. To create a more enriching environment in the enclosure, you can add a variety of decorations such as leaves, rocks, driftwood, PVC pipes, plastic mesh, plants, etc.
|Important: This is especially crucial for the molting process! As mentioned earlier, the presence of vertical decor in the form of tree bark is vital for the molting of this species!
Note: Be careful with various types of branches and tree bark that you intend to use, especially if you collect them from outdoors. They might harbor various parasites or chemical residues. So, if you are uncertain about the safety of the decorations you are using, it’s better to cure them first (treat, boil, and thoroughly dry them).
Handling Centruroides Bicolor
These scorpions have relatively weak venom and are typically not considered aggressive. However, they are wild animals. Centruroides bicolor is not a pet you can play with!
It’s also crucial to ensure that children do not provoke the scorpions since it’s unethical, and such actions have consequences.
It’s not advisable to take them out just because you want to. The scorpions do not benefit from being handled, and they easily get stressed. Therefore, it’s best to handle them as little as possible.
However, if you must take them out, it’s preferable to use rubber gloves and follow these steps:
- Put your hand slowly in front of the scorpion.
- Nudge it from any side using a brush or pen.
- The scorpion will turn around to face the “threat.”
- Nudge and slightly push it until it backs up onto your hand.
- Avoid pressing it down since scorpions dislike it. DO NOT ever pick them up by the tail or touch them from the rear.
Remember that scorpions are not harmless pets and should be treated with caution and respect.
Breeding Centruroides Bicolor
I need to say right away that breeding this species is similar in many ways to other scorpions, but there is one peculiarity. After fertilization, the female becomes more aggressive towards the male, and it is recommended to separate them immediately.
Although Centruroides bicolor is sexually dimorphic, their size makes it challenging to differentiate between males and females. Nonetheless, there are a few physical characteristics that can help.
- Body shape. Males tend to be slightly larger and more slender build. Females, on the other hand, tend to have a bulkier build.
- Pectine teeth. Females have smaller and fewer pectine teeth (23-26). Males have larger and more pronounced pectine teeth (25-28).
Mating can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
- the male places a spermatophore on the ground or another hard surface during mating.
- he uses its claws to guide the female over a spermatophore during mating;
- the female usually follows the leading male in a classical promenade (mating dance) until a suitable spot is found for spermatophore deposition;
- then, the male assists the female in positioning her genital aperture over the spermatophore;
- after that, the pair separates.
Depending on the temperature, females have gestation periods from 2 to 3 months.
Females of this species give birth to an average of 10-30 neonates (nymphs or scorplings).
Centruroides bicolor exhibits maternal care by carrying offspring on their backs for 10 – 14 days.
After that, they will leave her and become completely independent.
Note: When scorplings are with the mother, there is no need to feed baby scorpions, their mother will take care of that. Just give her more food than you normally would. She will catch the prey, tear it apart, and let the babies feed on it.
Important: Once babies leave the mother’s back, it will be better to separate them from her and each other as well.
Centruroides Bicolor and Suitable Tankmates
It is absolutely not recommended to keep Centruroides bicolor with other scorpion species. They will fight eventually.
Keeping them with conspecifics can be relatively safe, provided that:
- they are roughly the same size,
- there are plenty of hiding places in their terrarium,
- they are not hungry.
However, unfortunately, even when following these recommendations, spontaneous aggression and cannibalism cannot be completely excluded. Therefore, when keeping them in a group, you should always be aware of the such risk.
Given their unique appearance and size, Centruroides bicolor can be a great addition to the collection of any scorpion keeper. With the right approach, even beginners should not have any difficulties with this species.
The main problems though are their rarity in the trade.
- Francke, O. F y Scott A. Stockwell. 1987. Scorpions (Arachnida) of Costa Rica. Texas Tech University. Lubbock, Texas. 64 p.
- Arias, Diomedes Quintero, and Lauren A. Esposito. “A new species of Centruroides Marx (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Panama and new distribution records for Centruroides bicolor (Pocock, 1898) and Centruroides granosus (Thorell, 1876).” Zootaxa3795, no. 3 (2014): 373-382.
- Salazar, Marcos H., Herlinda Clement, Ligia L. Corrales-García, Jairo Sánchez, John Cleghorn, Fernando Zamudio, Lourival D. Possani, Hildaura Acosta, and Gerardo Corzo. “Heterologous expression of four recombinant toxins from Panamanian scorpions of the genus Tityus and Centruroides for production of antivenom.” Toxicon: X13 (2022): 100090.
- Víquez, C. 1999.Escorpiones de Costa Rica. Scorpions.INBio, Costa Rica 84 p.