Molting and mortality

Piggen

Arachnopeon
Joined
Aug 29, 2016
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3
Hi all!
I'm new to this forum. I received a captive born Heterometrus petersii from a friend some weeks ago. I'm keeping it in a plastic terraria with damp earth as substrate, orchid bark and some bark for cover.

I read "Arachnomania - The general care and maintenance of tarantulas & scorpions" by Philippe de Vosjoli (1991). The book states that at each successive molt about one third of all scorpions die, and the mortality rate becomes greater as the animal becomes larger.

Given that my young scorpion will undergo at least seven molts to reach sexual maturity the prospects of it ever getting ther looks quite bleak! So, to the point:

1. Can these mortality rates be confirmed by scorpion breeders on this forum?

2. Is there anything that can be done to improve the survival rates during molting? My first thoughts is that such mortality rates in the wild during molting would not be sustainable for the species. So if not, we're clearly missing out on a factor that are present in the wild which makes the molting process more survivable.

Thanks in advance! :)
 

edesign

AB FB Group Moderatr
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I don't keep that species myself and am still somewhat new to scorpions myself (had some years ago, purchased more this year) but I've been a member of this forum for twelve years. All I will say is that I don't recall hearing a bunch of people posting that their H. petersiis died from molting :) As long as you maintain the proper humidity and temp you will already be doing everything you can. Make sure it's fed before it goes in to premolt so it has energy reserves but unless you starve it prior I doubt that'll be an issue anyway. Molting dehydrates them a good amount afaik (it does T's, I see no reason scorpions would be different) so be sure that water is available pre/post molt.

It is true that as they get larger the molts become more of a physical challenge due to body size/surface area and the energy required to successfully shed the old skin. I have a twelve year old tarantula who now molts about every two years. The last couple molts have made me a little nervous just due to age and size but so far she's doing just fine.

I'm sure someone with a lot more knowledge about this particular species will chime in this afternoon/evening. I wouldn't have such a bleak outlook if I were you :) Chances are your scorp will grow to adulthood just fine.
 

brandontmyers

Arachnoangel
Old Timer
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Dec 29, 2006
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841
Most likely that statistic is based on the wild or specimens in the lab. 30% mortality rate is extremely high. With that being said, some species are a lot harder to take care of. Rhopalurus pintoi is well known as being difficult to raise to maturity.
 

Piggen

Arachnopeon
Joined
Aug 29, 2016
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The book is referring to scorpions raised in the laboratory, not just Heterometrus petersii but captive bred scorpions in general.
30% is extremely high. I don't know how many babies they get (probably depends on the species), but with a 30% mortality rate for each molt that means the scorpion must have almost 20 offspring just to get one specimen reaching sexual maturity after 7 molts.
In the wild with predation, parasites, disease and accidents, an animal that reproduces at a slow rate and produces relatively few offspring, mortality during molting can't possibly be that high.

Somehow the dwindling numbers of Pandius imperator in captivity after restrictions on trade make me believe that mortality in captive bred scorpions is an issue. If not one would think there would be more captive bred emperors for sale, would you not?

Are there any scorpion breeders out there that can comment?

The interesting question is, if my book is not way off mark, what happen in the wild during molting that we can't reproduce in captivity?
 

Galapoheros

ArachnoGod
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Jul 4, 2005
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8,984
I would take that info as ‘their’ experience. The experience I’ve had over here with different species has been very different. A wildish guess over here with imperators is that maybe one out of 10 has a molting problem at sometime to adulthood(9 out of 10 making it to adulthood). Transvaalicus, maybe 1 out of 50 have had a problem to adulthood, maybe not even that many. I watched 60 Androctonus all molt to adulthood, none had problems. As for raising scorpions for supply, I think much of the lack of supply is due to people simply losing interest because it takes a while. They have some scorpions for a couple of years and say, “Ahhh, I think I’ll just sell all these, …I have a kid now, …I’m moving, …I’ve got to focus on my job, got a new job, etc.” Also that book was published in 1991, the internet wasn’t there in a way to be worried about much opposition to what was said in a book. Back then you could guess and speculate about such things and state your experiences almost as general fact rather than anecdotal and not worry about people debating over it.
 

Piggen

Arachnopeon
Joined
Aug 29, 2016
Messages
3
Thanks all!
A long time ago I bred and sold tropical fish. Managed to finance my own hobby for a while. Fish get more young that grow faster but the asking price is not even close to what you'll get for a imperator. But I won't go quit my day job just jet ;-)
 
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