Feeding your pet scorpion is one of the most important parts of keeping them happy and healthy. So, if you are looking to keep them as pets, it is important to do research on how to take care of them and how to feed them.
In their natural environment, scorpions are opportunistic predators, as such, they have evolved to have specific dietary needs. Being a carnivore means that scorpions feed on meat, rather than other sources of nutrients (such as plant matter, detritus, etc.).
The following feeding guide for scorpions was also written to address some of the most commonly asked questions, like:
- What should your scorpions eat to stay healthy?
- How to feed scorpions?
- How often should scorpions eat?
- What food should be avoided?
Without further ado let’s start.
What Do Scorpions Eat in The Wild?
In their natural habitats, scorpions are strict carnivores and rely on nutrients in animal tissues to meet their specific and unique nutritional requirements. Generally, as opportunistic predators, they hunt and kill other animals to feed themselves. However, in some cases, they can also scavenge for carrion.
|Scorpions cannot easily digest plant matter even if they want to, their digestive systems cannot handle it.|
Depending on the species and size of the scorpion, they can feed on a variety of worms, snails, insects (such as crickets, cockroaches, grasshoppers, etc.), centipedes, bugs, smaller arachnids, and other scorpions. Some larger species may also prey on small vertebrates like mice, frogs, snakes, and lizards.
|Scorpions often eat their prey alive. So, if you are a sensitive person, you should not keep them as a pet.|
What Do Scorpions Eat In Captivity?
On one hand, that’s true to some extent. If a scorpion can overpower its prey, it will eat it. On the other hand, many of the prey mentioned earlier can, at times, turn into predators themselves.
|Important: It’s not recommended to simply catch random bugs on the streets and toss them into your pet scorpion’s enclosure. The diet of the prey matters as well because your scorpion relies on it for nutrition. It might be possible that these bugs eat contaminated food and/or were sprayed with pesticides, etc.|
So the list of live food that’s relatively safe for your pet becomes narrower and looks like this.
- cockroaches (red runner roaches, dubia roaches, etc.)
- snails, etc.
|Important: Large prey may harm the scorpion. In captivity, you should never give them prey that can fight back aggressively|
How Often Should You Feed Scorpions?
Scorpions have a very slow metabolism compared to other animals. This means that they are able to survive for long periods of time without food by relying on stored energy reserves and fat stores.
Scorpions do not need to eat as frequently. In fact, some species of scorpions (such as Flat rock scorpions) can go up to a year or more without eating!
Generally, adults can eat once a week or two. Juveniles and females (after getting their young) may require more food (2 – 3 times per week).
Therefore, if your pet scorpion refuses to eat for a month or two, there is no need to panic. This behavior is quite normal. Just try again in a week.
They just don’t need to eat as frequently as other animals.
|Important: When the scorpion refuses to eat, DO NOT leave the live food in the enclosure. It is highly recommended to remove it the next day.
Surprisingly, even seemingly harmless mealworms have been known to harm scorpions during molting.
It’s important to note that scorpions often exhibit a temporary pause in their eating habits for some other reasons:
- Preparation for a molt. The molting process is one of the most complex processes. It is accompanied by structural changes in various tissues of the body. Thus, changes in their eating habits change drastically before molting. At first, the scorpion may start eating more than usual. However, after some time, they completely stop eating.
- Low temperature. When the temperature drops below the optimal range, scorpions become very lethargic and do not eat as much.
- Stress. As with most animals, stress may significantly reduce their appetite.
How Much Should You Feed Scorpions?
The size of the prey matters as well.
Larger live prey may harm the scorpions. Even if the scorpion manages to subdue it, it will not be able to consume it, leaving a portion to decompose, potentially causing contamination and/or various health issues.
Therefore, feed them prey items about the size of their prosoma (head) or their stomach, as offering larger prey can be challenging for them to handle.
How Do Scorpions Eat?
In the pre-oral cavity, the food mixes with salivary secretions and enters the stomach in a partially digested state.
A specialized suctorial pharynx then extracts fluids from the partially digested food. Further digestion occurs in the midgut, guided by digestive glands, before reaching the intestine.
Optimal Feeding Time
Scorpions are primarily nocturnal hunters. Thus, feeding them late in the evening or at night aligns with their natural behavior.
Additionally, it does not give the prey much time to hide, as it would if you placed it there during the day, allowing it to sit there for several hours.
Why Protein and Calcium are Important for Scorpions?
Protein and calcium are crucial nutrients for scorpions. They support their growth, development, and overall health.
Adequate intake of these nutrients is extremely important for maintaining strong and healthy scorpions.
Scorpions are predators that feed on insects and other invertebrates, which provide them with protein-rich food sources.
Protein is necessary for the growth and maintenance of the scorpion’s muscles, organs, and exoskeleton. It is also required for the production of enzymes, hormones, and other molecules that support various physiological processes.
Calcium is vital for the development and maintenance of a scorpion’s exoskeleton, which provides structural support and protection for their bodies.
A calcium deficiency will lead to softening of the exoskeleton, impaired movement, and increased susceptibility to disease.
That is why they require adequate amounts of dietary calcium to ensure proper molting and growth, as well as to maintain strong and healthy exoskeletons.
How Do Scorpions Find Their Food?
Scorpions have specialized sensory organs (Pectines) that detect vibrations in the ground as well as specialized sensory hairs on their body, pincers and legs that detect vibrations in the air.
So, when potential prey moves, they can easily detect these vibrations and pinpoint the prey’s location.
These sensory adaptations make scorpions efficient nocturnal hunters.
How Do Scorpions Hunt?
Scorpions are generally considered ambush predators. They rarely actively search for prey in the way some other predators do. Instead, they prefer to wait for their prey by hiding under rocks, logs, or other sheltered areas.
They remain completely still until the prey comes within striking range. At that point, scorpions quickly seize the opportunity to capture their prey.
The extremely slow metabolism of scorpions gives them a significant advantage in patiently waiting for the right moment to strike.
Scorpions have multiple ways to neutralize their prey. They can use their pincers, stinger, or both simultaneously.
Pincers vs Venom
Typically, scorpion species with robust pincers (such as Asian forest scorpions, Emperor scorpions, Flat rock scorpions, Red-Clawed Scorpion) tend to have weak venom and prefer dispatching their prey with their pincers.
On the other hand, young scorpions and/or scorpions with anatomically weaker pincers (such as Desert Hairy Scorpions, Hottentotta hottentotta, Arizona bark scorpions, etc.) usually rely on their powerful venom.
For example, it was observed that Arizona bark scorpions can kill the prey item nearly twice its length.
Some Feeding Tips
- Calcium. Scorpions get all minerals from their food. So, when they consume prey with a hard exoskeleton (such as beetles, cockroaches, or crickets), they generally get enough calcium. a sufficient amount of calcium.
However, when providing them with soft prey lacking an exoskeleton (worms, moths, etc.), it will be better to dust it with calcium.
- Prey activity. In some cases, you need to give them pre-killed prey items.
DO NOT give them prey that can burrow, jump, or fly around their enclosure. You need to remove the wings / chop the forelimbs / break the legs / squash the head a little bit so that they wiggle and are easily accessible to the scorpions.
- Check the hiding spots. As I have already mentioned before, ideally, the prey should be approximately 1/3 of the body length of the scorpion. If it’s too large, scorpions may drag it to their hiding spots for later consumption.
Regrettably, it can decompose there, leading to various negative consequences (it can cause mold, and attract bacteria and/or parasites which could pose a risk to the scorpion.
If you decide to keep scorpions as a pet, it is extremely important to know what and how they eat.
It’s crucial to offer prey of an appropriate size for your scorpion.
Make sure that they have a good variety in their menu. It will make them happy and healthy.