Large Clawed Scorpion – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding

Large Clawed Scorpion (Scorpio maurus) – Detailed Guide Care, Diet, and Breeding

Scorpio maurus, also known as Large Clawed Scorpion, is a small species and interesting species.

In their natural habitat, Large Clawed Scorpions have a broad distribution range and evolved to thrive in various environments. The ability of this species to create deep burrows is a distinguishing characteristic that adds to its reputation as a proficient burrower with a predominately nocturnal existence.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of comprehensive information available regarding the proper care of Large Clawed Scorpions in home terrariums. This lack of knowledge adversely affects their overall lifespan and well-being.

In this article, I will examine the biology, habitat, behavior, and care needs of Scorpio maurus.

Quick Notes about Large Clawed Scorpion

Name Large Clawed Scorpion
Other Names
North African scorpion, Egyptian scorpions, the Golden Desert Scorpion, and Israeli gold scorpion
Scientific Name Scorpio maurus
Type
Terrestrial
Tank size (minimum) 2 gallon (~8 liters)
Keeping Easy-moderate
Breeding Difficult
Average size 2 – 2.75 inches (5 to 7 cm)
Optimal Temperature 72 – 86°F (22 – 30°C)
Water type Freshwater bowl
Moisture 30 – 60 %
Substrate Any
Diet Carnivore  
Temperament Semi-aggressive 
Life span up to 4 years (as pets)
Color Form Yellow to brown 

Taxonomy of Large Clawed Scorpions

Large Clawed Scorpion (Scorpio maurus)Subphylum: Chelicerata (Chelicerae-bearing animals)

Genus Scorpio belongs to the subfamily Scorpioninae, Family Scorpionidae.

Although the genus Scorpio is currently recognized as a monotypic genus (includes only one genus), it is intriguing to note that within this species, there have already been described 19 subspecies.

Note: There are not only genetic differences but also morphological variations between these subspecies. However, further research is needed to fully understand the extent of these variations and their significance.

Kingdom: Animalia (Animal Kingdom)
Phylum: Arthropoda (Jointed-legged animals)
Class: Arachnida (Arachnids)
Order: Scorpiones (Scorpions)
Family: Scorpionidae (Scorpion family)
Genus: Scorpio
Species: Maurus species

Etymology of Scorpio Maurus

The genus name “Scorpio” is derived from the Latin word for scorpion, which in turn is derived from the Greek word “skorpios”.

The species name “Maurus” is derived from the Latin “Moorish” meaning “Dark-skinned” or “Swarthy”, likely referring to the coloration often observed in Scorpio maurus individuals.

Distribution of Large Clawed Scorpions

Large Clawed Scorpion (Scorpio Maurus) – Detailed Guide Care, Diet, and Breeding - destributionScorpio maurus is widely distributed in the world. This species (subspecies) can be found from Morocco across Northern Africa, through the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East including Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syrian, Turkey, Yemen to as far East as Iraq and Iran.

Habitat of Large Clawed Scorpions

Despite being typically found in arid and semidesert habitats, Large Clawed Scorpions can also be found in regions with a Mediterranean climate.

Generally, these scorpions dig burrows in a variety of soil types (sand, silt, loess, and alluvial). In areas with cooler winter conditions, the species hibernates in burrows.  

Description of Large Clawed Scorpions

Large Clawed Scorpion (Scorpio maurus) – Detailed Guide Care, Diet, and Breedinп - profile
photo credit Stuart Summerfield

This is a relatively small species. The average body size of an adult Large Clawed Scorpions barely exceed 1.5 inches (or 3.5 cm). Also, males are always significantly smaller than females.

The average size of adult scorpions is 2 – 2.75 inches (5 – 7 cm) in length. In exceptional cases, some individuals may grow up to 3.15 inches (8 cm), but this is extremely rare in reality.

Distinguishing characteristics:

Coloration. Depending on the subspecies, the coloration of Scorpio maurus can vary but often includes shades of yellow, olive, and brown, ranging from light tan to dark. These scorpions have dark tips on the pedipalps. Their legs are lighter in color.

Shape.  The cephalothorax is divided into two lobes by an incision in the frontal part. The prosoma is entirely smooth. The tail is shorter than the rest of the body. The combs in the lower part have a reduced length. The mesosoma is smooth and without crests. The sternum is usually pentagonal, its lateral edges are parallel to each other, and its length is at least half its width. 

Claws. The hand (manus) is large and very flat, partially granulated on the outside and smooth on the inside, and has rounded inner edges. The fingers are very short and blunt. 

Telson. The needle in the last loop of their tail is in the subterminal. There is no under-needle tubercle.

Note: The different subspecies can be separated by color variations and some morphological differences, but not always.

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Lifespan of Large Clawed Scorpions

Despite the belief among some enthusiasts that Scorpio maurus has a relatively short lifespan of around 3-4 years when kept as pet, this is not completely true.

According to the study, if a female scorpion gives birth every year, it suggests that she can live for a minimum of 6 years, and potentially up to 10 years. If they reproduce every other year or less, the lifespan can reach in some cases, even up to 17 years!

Typical Behavior of Large Clawed Scorpions

Nocturnal: Large Clawed Scorpions are primarily nocturnal animals. During the day, they usually seek shelter in their burrows.

Burrowers: Large Clawed Scorpion is an obligate digger scorpion. They often build their burrows in lowland areas with 5–10% slope in which no rainwater can accumulate.

The burrows have a crescent-shaped opening and run fairly parallel to the ground for about 4 inches (10 cm) after which they run downwards for 8 – 28 inches (20 – 70 cm) deep. The bottom is slightly enlarged.

In their natural habitat, they seal the burrow entrances during winter by placing soil they extract from the tunnel at the entrance.

Not social: The term “sociality” can be applied to scorpions in a very conditional manner and only to determine the safety of keeping multiple scorpions together. However, it is important to note that this particular species of scorpion is not social.

Although concentrations of hundreds of burrows may be found in certain areas, Large Clawed Scorpions do not share their burrows, they live alone. For example, unlike Arizona bark scorpions, they do not hibernate in groups.

Semi-aggressive Large Clawed Scorpions do not attack unless you pose an immediate threat to them (for example, grabbing their tail or pinning them down).

Noisy: Males have been observed to produce sounds by rapidly striking the posterior half of the mesosoma against the ground.

Climbers: Large Clawed Scorpions are relatively good climbers.

Activity: In terms of activity, it can be assessed that this particular species of scorpion exhibits activity levels that are below average compared to other scorpion species. They can be often seen standing at the entrance with the pincers slightly raised.

Features:

  • Communal: No
  • Activity: Low
  • Peaceful: Semi-aggressive
  • Burrowers: Yes
  • Venomous: Yes

Venom of Large Clawed Scorpions

Scorpio maurus is a venomous species. However, its venom is generally considered to have low toxicity to humans – no fatalities have been recorded.

Although a sting from Large Clawed Scorpions might be painful, it is usually not extremely serious or life-threatening. However, because everyone’s response to a scorpion sting is different, it is always advised to use caution and get medical help if stung, especially if you are having severe symptoms or an allergic reaction.

DO NOT allow children to touch Large Clawed Scorpions!

Note: According to the study, there is a distinct difference in the protein composition of scorpion venom among various subspecies collected from different habitats.

Diet of Large Clawed Scorpions

As an opportunistic predators, they hunt and feed on any prey they are capable of capturing, overpowering, and consuming such as:

  • bugs,
  • crickets,
  • mealworms,
  • moths
  • snails,
  • spiders,
  • small vertebrates (like snakes, frogs, rodents, etc.).

They use sensory systems (long and very thin sensory hairs located all over the body) other than vision to locate prey.

Large Clawed Scorpions usually use their claws to dispatch any normal prey item. They rarely rely on their venom for hunting.

Important: Large prey may harm the scorpion. In captivity, you should never give them prey that can fight back aggressively.

How Often to Feed Large Clawed Scorpions?

All scorpions have an extremely slow metabolism and do not move a lot. Therefore, feeding adults once a week is more than enough.

Do not worry, if your scorpions do not eat. Actually, they may not even eat every month! Thus, try again in a week.

Some Feeding Tips

  • Time. Scorpio maurus 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. It is absolutely important that prey be smaller than the scorpions to ensure that they can grab it easily with their claws. Ideally, their food should not be larger than their stomach.
  • Prey activity.Large Clawed Scorpions are not active hunters. They will not pursue their prey. Like most scorpion species, they prefer to wait for their moment. So, 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.
  • 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.

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Keeping and Housing Large Clawed Scorpions

Large Clawed Scorpions thrive in warm and dry habitats with proper hiding spots and substrate. It is crucial to understand that to keep them healthy and happy, we have to mimic their natural habitat.

The quality of the habitat is the main reason why scorpions have a reduced lifespan or die during molting.

Since the majority of scorpions are taken in the wild, it might be difficult to pinpoint a scorpion’s precise origin.

Given that they could have been captured in both very dry (desert) and moderately humid natural environments. Thus, providing incorrect conditions may cause stress to the animal and negatively impact its health.

Enclosure Type:

To begin with, selecting an enclosure that can maintain adequate levels of heat and humidity is crucial for housing scorpions. There are 3 main choices available to achieve this.

First of all, you will need to choose an enclosure that provides the appropriate levels of heat and humidity for these scorpions. There are several options here.

1. Plastic container (Recommended)

PROS CONS
Cheap. Plastic is not the most ecological material, especially in hot temperatures.
Good for ventilation. Not aesthetically pleasing

Note: Even if there are no holes in the container, we can easily do those ourselves. Drill a few small holes on two opposite sides of the walls (closer to the base and closer to the upper edge).

2. Terrarium (Second best option)

PROS CONS
It is made of ecological materials. Some models have problems with ventilation
Looks very nice High cost and weight

3. Aquarium (so-so)

PROS CONS
It is made of ecological material (glass) There can be problems with the ventilation
Very easy to buy Fragile
  Expensive

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Tank size:

Large Clawed Scorpion (Scorpio maurus) – Detailed Guide Care, Diet, and Breedinп - substrateDue to their small size, fully grown Large Clawed Scorpions can be housed in a tank as small as 2 gallons (8 liters), provided that the enclosure is designed to meet their temperature and humidity requirements.

Otherwise, a larger tank will be required to accommodate heat mats and other equipment needed to create the appropriate environment.

IMPORTANT: Make sure that the tank has a secure lid to prevent the scorpions from escaping!

Temperature:

Large Clawed Scorpions prefer a warm temperature range of 72 – 86°F (22 – 30°C). However, due to the wide range of distribution, the lowest monthly mean minimum temperature may drop down to 36°F (2°C).

In their natural habitat, if the temperature drops below 59°F (15°C), their metabolism significantly slows down, and they enter a state of dormancy (hibernation) in their burrows.

To keep a temperature steady, heat sources like heat lamps or heating pads can be used.

Tips:

  • 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.

Humidity:

Despite being predominantly desert-dwelling scorpions, Large Clawed Scorpions still prefer a level of humidity between 30 and 60%.
At the same time, you need to keep in mind that high humidity may cause fungal infections (mycosis – black patches). This is also one of the main reasons why people fail to keep these scorpions in captivity.

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Water:

Despite the fact that Large Clawed Scorpions get most of their water from their meal, it will be better to give them access to water through a dish.          

Even a small plastic bottle cap will be enough. Fill it 1-2 times a month and let it evaporate dry.

Note: Water dish does not cause mycosis, only high humidity does.

Substrate:

Large Clawed Scorpions are known to dig deep burrows (up to 20+ inches or 50+ cm) deep and even deeper.

However, It has also been noticed that the depth depends on the humidity and temperature levels. For example, in arid central areas, where the environment is drier, the burrows of these scorpions are deeper and more spiraled compared to wetter coastal areas.

In captivity, if your humidity and temperature are optimal, there is no need for such a deep substrate. Nonetheless, their crabitat should have at least 6 – 8 inches (15 – 20 cm) deep substrate.

You can use a 60/40 or 70/30 sand/excavator clay mixture. Adding too much clay will make it difficult for them to dig, while too little may cause tunnel collapses. Play sand can be used, but make sure it is only sand with nothing else mixed in.

  1. Mix the sand and clay together, put it in the tank,
  2. Pour some water,
  3. Pack it down as tight as possible.

Tips:

  • Let the substrate dry by layers of about 2 inches (5 cm) for quicker drying.
  • Avoid cracking the glass at the bottom of the tank when packing down the sand.

Decorations and Hiding places:

All decorations used in the terrarium with Large Clawed Scorpions should serve one purpose – to provide as much hiding space as possible.

You can use all types of leaves, wood, stones, PVC pipes, and other decorations to enrich their environment. 

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Handling Large Clawed Scorpions

Always remember that Large Clawed Scorpion is a venomous species. They are not pets 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:

  1. Put your hand in front of the scorpion.
  2. Nudge it from any side using a brush or pen.
  3. The scorpion will turn around to face the “threat.”
  4. Nudge and slightly push it until it backs up onto your hand.
  5. Avoid pressing it down since scorpions dislike it.

Remember that scorpions are not harmless pets and should be treated with caution and respect.

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Breeding Large Clawed Scorpions

It’s interesting to note that while Large Clawed Scorpions reproduce readily in their natural habitat, their reproductive success is relatively lower in captivity.

One explanation is that many of them are members of various subspecies, which makes crossbreeding difficult but perhaps achievable yet.

Sexing:

According to conducted study, there are significant differences in this species, expressed in various aspects.

These variables are total body length, carapace length, mesosoma length, pedipalp length, pedipalp hand length, 4th leg femur length, 2nd metasomal segment length and width, 3rd metasomal segment length, telson length, number of right and left pectinal teeth, number of 1st, 2nd and 3rd right leg setae.

However, for the average hobbyist, identifying these differences without specialized knowledge and equipment can be extremely challenging. Therefore, the primary criterion used for distinguishing sexes is the number of pectinal teeth.

Males have 9-13 pectinal teeth and females have 7-13 pectinal teeth.

Maturity:

It is estimated that Scorpio maurus, matures in its 2nd year, and first reproduces when 3 years old.

Ovariuterus structure shows that it can have at least four and perhaps up to eight litters.

Gestation:

Females have gestation periods of 14 or 15 months and produce fairly small broods (8–13 young scorpions).

Parturition occurs in August-September with 8- 13 young scorpions.

Scorplings:

Large Clawed Scorpions are viviparous, and exhibit maternal care by carrying offspring on their backs.

Offspring disperse following their first cycles of ecdysis (molting) which can be up to 2 – 3 weeks after birth.

Large Clawed Scorpions and Suitable Tankmates

Large Clawed Scorpion (Scorpio maurus) – Detailed Guide Care, Diet, and Breedinп - eating
Large Clawed Scorpion eats another Large Clawed Scorpion. Photo source.

It is absolutely not recommended to keep Large Clawed Scorpions with other scorpion species.

Some sources say that these scorpions do not display cannibalism because the burrow entrances can be found 50–100 cm far from each other.

Unfortunately, in captivity, it does not work this way. Keeping them with conspecifics (in a very limited space, compared to the wild) is not safe as well. They will fight eventually.

In Conclusion

Large Clawed Scorpions are not hard to care for once you understand their needs and establish a routine.

These scorpions are relatively small and not very active. So, if you were looking for something to be constantly moving, then this is not the pet for you.

You should always be monitoring the health of your pet and watching out for any indicators of concern because the absolute majority of issues can be traced back to poor care in feeding patterns, inadequate humidity, and tank maintenance.

These scorpions can be extraordinary companions for many years! So, you should acquire them only if you are committed to providing the necessary care they need.

References:

  1. Abdel-Rahman, Mohamed A., Mohamed Alaa A. Omran, Ismail M. Abdel-Nabi, Hitoshi Ueda, and Alistair McVean. “Intraspecific variation in the Egyptian scorpion Scorpio maurus palmatus venom collected from different biotopes.” Toxicon53, no. 3 (2009): 349-359.
  2. Abdel-Nabi, Ismail & Mcvean, Alistair & Abdel Rahman, Mohamed & Omran, Mohamed Alaa. (2004). Intraspecific diversity of morphological characters of the burrowing scorpion Scorpio maurus palmatus (Ehrenberg, 1828) in Egypt (Arachnida: Scorpionida: Scorpionidae). Serket. 9. 41-67.
  3. Warburg, M. R., and Rivka Elias. “The reproductive potential and strategy of Scorpio maurus fuscus (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae): anatomical clues in the ovariuterus.” Journal of Zoology246, no. 1 (1998): 29-37.
  4. Froufe, Elsa, Pedro Sousa, Paulo C. Alves, and David J. Harris. “Genetic diversity within Scorpio maurus (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae) from Morocco: Preliminary evidence based on CO1 mitochondrial DNA sequences.” Biologia63 (2008): 1157-1160.
  5. Navidpour, S. H., B. Vazirianzadeh, and A. Mohammadi. “Burrowing activities of Scorpio maurus towensendi (Arachnida: Scorpionida: Scorpionidae) in province of Khouzestan SW Iran.” J Ent Zool Studies3 (2015): 270-4.
  6. Desouky, Mahmoud MA, and Ahmed M. Alshammari. “Scorpions of the Ha’il Region, northern Saudi Arabia, and molecular phylogenetics of two common species, Androctonus crassicauda and Scorpio maurus kruglovi.” Arachnology15, no. 6 (2010): 193-200.
  7. Çolak, Mehmet, and Ayşegül Karataş. “Shape of burrows built by Scorpio maurus L., 1758 (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae) from Turkey, with description of capture methods.” Euscorpius2013, no. 171 (2013): 1-7.
  8. WR Lourenco, Reproduction in scorpions, with special reference to parthenogenesis, in Toft S., Scharff N. (eds),  Eds. European Arachnology 2000 , Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2002, pp. 71-85.

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