Questions

Mark Newton

Arachnobaron
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I have a question. Unlike Australia, many of you can purchase scorpions from many places in the world. In doing so more often than not you will be purchasing a scorpion in which you have had no practical association with the scorpions natural environment. I'm wondering how do you decide on the best situation in which to keep the scorpion. Do you rely on information from others, or do you do some research about the scorpions natural environment? What do you do if unsure, do you have a scorpion educated guess and take a punt? I'm talking about all the various factors such as substrate type, humidity, temperature range and so on. Clearly most of you are keeping scorpions on substrates that are not the natural substrate of the scorpion (as its not feasible), but if you are being successful then the substrate must somehow meet the needs of the scorpion as with the rest of the setup. How do you decide on dirt, mosses, bark, mixtures etc? I'm particularly interested in how you manage to keep desert species healthy but also mesic forms? Generally with rainforest species I guess its usually pretty straight forward...??

Probably too many questions, but answers to some would be appreciated.
 

EAD063

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Hi Mark,

Basically most of the care requirements are passed down from the higher level keepers and eventually make they're way around. Rarely will a begginer hobbyiest be able to attain a species that has never been kept by anyone before. But the more advanced ones, who are able to get these species, more often than not have a lot more expirence and technical intelligence when it comes to relating habitat enviromental factors into small scale biomes. A alot of expirimenting is done also, and to do so, you need many specimen to start with. I hate to take Brians spotlight when he replies, but he is big on half dry and half damp setups and observes they're positioning often. Seperate enclosures helps too, especially when uncertain about critcal factors like humidity and life processes like molting.
 

Alakdan

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This is how I do it.

Before the actual purchase:
-search for caresheets
-ask people who keep the same species
-search for info on locality of the specimen. This is limited because the micro habitat is not described. Sometimes, you get lucky because the specimens are wild caught and the seller gives you a detailed info. I do provide some collection data in some of my trades.

I'm more concerned with the temp and humidity requirements. I usually set-up a half dry half moist substrate and then observe the scorp's preferrence. Next, I experiment with different substrate mixtures depending if it is for a terrestial or semi-arboreal species. Cocopeat is my most common base. For arid species, I use dry cocopeat mixed with packed dry river sand. For mesic scorps, I use a mixture of topsoil, cocopeat, and sand . The ratio will vary if the specimen is an obligate or opportunistic burrower.

For tropical scorps, this is not a problem because I get to observe actual rainforest terrain. I discovered my best mix is 3 parts cocopeat, 1 part topsoil, and 1 part leaf compost. I put the leaf compost on top. This is the closes simulation of a typical tropical rainforest floor.
 

Mark Newton

Arachnobaron
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Thanks Ed. I naturally assumed most people would follow the knowledge of others where possible, we would be mad to ignore the experience of others. The half-half situation is one I have often used and advised people on, basically leaving it up to the scorpion to find its most suited place. The determination of substrate type is one of the factors I was most interested in too.
 

Crono

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It is entirely possible for a beginner to get their hands on a rare species with little to no info on proper conditions. My second scorpion was a Caraboctonus keyserlingi. Good luck finding a caresheet on that species.

There are a few methods that I use, and you summed them up-

Ask for advice or research old threads on multiple forums to find any known captive care advice. Even if it is rare, you might find something. Or just find the forum that Barkscorpions/Prymal is active on and he should have an idea.{D

The second is to findout where it is local to and make an educated guess about microhabitat.
I like to use this site to find range maps if they have them for the species I am looking for, then try to get local meteorological data.
http://www.toxinology.com/index.cfm
(Adelaide, Australia- You wouldn't have anything to do with this site, would you Mark?)
After you have that info, you can set up an enclosure with some variation and allow the scorpion to find where it is most comfortable.

A third method I have access to are the article databases of my university, but this is both time consuming and not an option for many people. Most of the time I hit dead ends, but sometimes I find what I am looking for.

Unfortunatley, when it comes to substrate it is very difficult to match unless you have a sample. I mix various ratios of peat-based potting soil and sand, but this is not ideal.
However, there are so many variables that can go into soil composition that I feel unless you have a sample with you, it is only possible to make an approximation for soil type.
 

EAD063

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Caraboctonus keyserlingi.
I wouldn't call that rare. Not popular in the hobby... yes
. Legally get an unkept scorpion out of a proteced country and we can talk, but until then your using one minor example.
 

Crono

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We might not be thinking of rare in the same way. I am looking at rare in the hobby in general, not whether the species is kept in captivity at all.
It isn't rare like O. karooensis or T. sylvestris or any of Marks species, I'll agree, but it isn't available on demand like many other species.

There is also very little husbandry information available, and what is available was conflicting. Hell, it is a monotypic genus so it can't even be compared to another related species easily.
I pretty much had to go through the process I described to come up with something in terms of care, then let the scorpion give me hints on what it preferred until it seemed comfortable.
 

EAD063

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Crono, I belived you missed the key words in what I said.

Rarely will a begginer hobbyiest be able to attain a species that has never been kept by anyone before.

But even most times, especially in your case, there are other information about scorpions from the exact locality. That helps too.
 

Crono

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Yeah, I missed that. Got about 6 .pdfs open at once here and less than 24 hours left on a takehome exam. Misunderstandings happen at times like this.

I agree with your original point. Some special situations may arise, but they are very unlikely.

Sorry for the confusion
Dave Mc
 

Thaedion

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When I received my first emperor, and before I found this forum, I searched the internet (only to find conflicting info). So I decided to study the habitat that it was acquired from and tried to simulate this the best I could.

So if I were to want a desert scorpion, and couldn't ask some one, I would spend some time to study the environment it would come from and try to duplicate that.

So when I see someone post "I just found a scorpion outside under a wood pile, how should I set up its tank" I would reply simulate the environment you got it from.

That is why I love it when people (such as YOU) post habitat pictures also, it gives me an idea about its natural surroundings.

Thaedion.
 

Galapoheros

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I tend to go too fast when I get an animal I've never kept before. I come across things I should change after I have the animal. I think I'm too confident at the start, just knowing the basics about the animal. I end up tweaking it up as I learn more details most of the time. I shouldn't do it like that, kind of backwards. I keep trying to learn by going to sites like this and reading other people's experiences. I try to find out were the animal is from. Then I might look in my world atlas. I should refer to it more than I do. It has 60 thematic maps. The maps in the atlas that would apply to the hobby more than others would be climatic regions, temp averages for Summer and Winter, annual and seasonal precipitation, natural vegetation and soils. And like Thaedion I also use my imagination and my own senses and try to think on my own when I know more about where they can naturally be found. The internet REALLY changed things! So much more info that's right there on your computer.
 

Urizen

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I have yet to own any south american species, however all my scorpions, I provide with elements which are found in their natural habitats, which in turn they have physical adaptaions to. Such as substrate which is burrowing friendly for my species which burrow, and rocks for those which are found in rocky habitats. Otherwise, they are all presented with the same amounts of water and heat. They are all active, eat well and leave me little scorpion 'packages' after eating, so in my amatuer knowledge this indicates that their metabolisms are working ok. I keep several 'desert' species, however I do provide them with water and a weekly misting.

I have had only two mortalities, one was due to cannabalism and one, died under the same circustances as atleast four others from the same group that was collected, so this may indicate a parasite or pathogen.
 

Mark Newton

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Thanks Alakdan...good information there. Certainly for our scorpions here temp and humidity seem to be of paramount importance.


....For mesic scorps, I use a mixture of topsoil, cocopeat, and sand . The ratio will vary if the specimen is an obligate or opportunistic burrower.
Thats an interesting mix. Can I ask how and/or why that was derived and what does the variation n composition do?

For tropical scorps, this is not a problem because I get to observe actual rainforest terrain. I discovered my best mix is 3 parts cocopeat, 1 part topsoil, and 1 part leaf compost. I put the leaf compost on top. This is the closes simulation of a typical tropical rainforest floor.
You dont have problems with bacteria using leaf 'compost'? Do you make the leaf compost up yourself?
 
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Mark Newton

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I like to use this site to find range maps if they have them for the species I am looking for, then try to get local meteorological data.
http://www.toxinology.com/index.cfm
(Adelaide, Australia- You wouldn't have anything to do with this site, would you Mark?)
After you have that info, you can set up an enclosure with some variation and allow the scorpion to find where it is most comfortable.

Thanks Crono...I dont, but I'm familiar with the site, it's very handy.


Unfortunatley, when it comes to substrate it is very difficult to match unless you have a sample. I mix various ratios of peat-based potting soil and sand, but this is not ideal.
However, there are so many variables that can go into soil composition that I feel unless you have a sample with you, it is only possible to make an approximation for soil type.
I agree. But, realistically if it works then it doesnt need to be the same as the scorpions home turf. You use potting mix. Not a bacterial problem with that either by the looks? It's just that a lot of these potting mixes and leaf mulches etc are loaded with bacteria....but they dont seem to be causing a problem so far as stated.
 
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Brian S

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Mark, I divide scorp husbandry in 4 ways

1. Desert terrestrial: These are from arid habitats (I am sure you are familiar with that ;)) and I simply keep warm and dry. Substrate will be dry sand, peat or a mixture of both. I prefer to use a screen type top for these in order to keep ventilation high and humidity low. Usually every 4-8 week I spray the entire enclosure down to stimulate a rain. I spray just enough so as to allow to dry out in about 6 hours

2. Desert barkscorpion: These I provide a dry environment yet provide a "moist niche" for the scorpion. For instance I provide several stacks of wood with peat as substrate and about once a month I flood about 1/2 the substrate leaving the rest dry. This works well with such species as C exilicauda

3. Tropical terrestrial: This is for the Pandinus/Heterometrus etc. I keep in plastic boxes with a few holes drilled along the side with moist substrate

4. Tropical Barkscorpion: This is basically the same as the last but I provide stacks of bark for them to have the opportunity to get off the moist substrate if they desire to.

Now when I get a species I am not real sure about, I always put in a box with about 1/2 the substrate moist and the other 1/2 bone dry with hides on both sides. I observe which side the scorpion prefers and go from there
 

Mark Newton

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Thanks Thaedion. Some sound advice there and pretty much exactly what I do, especially for me in the wild is very important.


So when I see someone post "I just found a scorpion outside under a wood pile, how should I set up its tank" I would reply simulate the environment you got it from.

That is why I love it when people (such as YOU) post habitat pictures also, it gives me an idea about its natural surroundings.

Here is a natural surrounding image I took recently that has the three desert species occuring sympatrically I recently investigated. Hope the pics not too big.

 

brandontmyers

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Here is a natural surrounding image I took recently that has the three desert species occuring sympatrically I recently investigated. Hope the pics not too big.
that is an amazing picture...you sure you're not a photographer???
 

Mark Newton

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Thanks Brian

I like your breakdown, thats the sort of thing I do.
For me I use :

1) fossorial forms
2) Semi fossorial rock dwellers
3) opportunistic terrestrials
4) rainforest dwellers

and each of these can then be broken down to particular requirements for each species.


Looking at your groupings...

For #1 Desert terrestrial, does that include fossorial forms, as terrestrial suggests above ground/ground level? If I used your setup for our desert scorpions they would be dead in no time. You might have seen the evaporative water loss graph I posted for prelim studies on U armatus. The rate of water loss at 35% RH was very high, death inside 2 weeks. And this is with a scorpion that I would almost consider semi-fossorial in that it is quite surface active. This scorpion has me beat at the moment as it doesnt apppear to draw water osmotically at levels low enough to be useful for the scorpion.

I understand with your desert scorpions they seem to be very much more water loss tolerant and hence your system works.


#2 Desert barkscorpion. Sounds like a great setup and may well be useful for some of our species. I think these types of scorpions would be interesting to keep.

#3 Tropical terrestrial. Yes..I understand this one for rainforest forms, requiring higher levels of moisture and humidity.


#4 Tropical barkscorpion. Makes good sense too. I would use this type of setup for our Liocheles waigiensis.



Now when I get a species I am not real sure about, I always put in a box with about 1/2 the substrate moist and the other 1/2 bone dry with hides on both sides. I observe which side the scorpion prefers and go from there
Sounds like a good idea to me, I do a similar thing....Thanks for the hints.

As you may well be aware keeping scorpions in Australia has not been a big deal at all and really is still in its infancy and so there is still a lot to learn about the best keeping situations. I am striving to overcome this difficulty.

Thanks again...
 

Mark Newton

Arachnobaron
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that is an amazing picture...you sure you're not a photographer???
Thanks. I do quite a bit of photography. That shot was taken using a 1960's Pentax 6x7 medium format camera, hence the quality. A 6x7cm trannie captures a lot of detail.
 

Mark Newton

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I end up tweaking it up as I learn more details most of the time. ... And like Thaedion I also use my imagination and my own senses and try to think on my own when I know more about where they can naturally be found.
Sounds fair to me...I think we all work like that to one degree or another, that's how we improve things. Cheers


Thanks Urizen
I have yet to own any south american species, however all my scorpions, I provide with elements which are found in their natural habitats, which in turn they have physical adaptaions to.
You only keep species native to your area or region?


They are all active, eat well and leave me little scorpion 'packages' after eating, so in my amatuer knowledge this indicates that their metabolisms are working ok.
Its working, thats the main thing...good job. And only two deaths....must be a record..:clap:

Cheers
 
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