For those who consider scorpions as poisonous pests (or worse, vicious and poisonous predators
that hunt humans—a popular misconception), one species is interchangeable with another. But exotic pet hobbyists will make short work of these claims: the Scorpionidae family consists of approximately 1,500 recognized species, only some 25 of which are considered poisonous to man,
according to Russ Gurley.
The latest research shows that the Philippines is home to sixteen different types, including Heterometrus longimanus, more commonly known as the Asian Black Forest Scorpion—or for aficionados, the Longgi (or Longi) scorpion.
The Asian Black Forest Scorpion is commonly found across Southeast Asia—Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and the islands of Borneo, Java, and Sumatra in
Indonesia; the species has been known to occur in Singapore, but is otherwise surprisingly absent in the Malaysian Peninsula. It has also been sighted in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and China. (Fun fact: Scorpions can be found on every continent except Antarctica.)
A resident of tropical and subtropical rainforests, this scorpion lives under logs and other natural debris, but goes above ground to prey on insects or even small mammals for food. Jerry G. Walls wrote that scorpions are nocturnal creatures and in the wild are either ambush predators lying in wait at the burrows or nests of their prey, or active hunters that roam about the woods.
The Asian Black Forest Scorpion is one of the larger tropical Scorpionids, averaging at 7.9 inches in length, and are similar in shape and coloring—uniformly brown or black with a metallic greenish blue tint—to the Emperor Scorpion, but with a thinner, sleeker body and smaller claws. Todd Sain Sr. of the website Our Breathing Planet describes it thus: “The
Asian Forest Scorpion is heavily built with especially powerful pincers, broad mesosermal tergites and a proportionally slender and thin metasoma,” noting that females have larger bodies than males, but males have larger pincers.
A Starter Scropion–But Acquire with Caution
Our scorpion expert John Chua considers the species to be an appropriate starter scorpion for exotic pet enthusiasts: “This is not an endangered species, nor is it a danger to its keeper, with its venom level 1 classification.” It’s important to note, though, that its sting
causes localized pain, with swelling and redness that lasts for a few hours or—if you’re particularly unlucky—up to a few days.
John notes that caring for an Asian Black Forest Scorpion is easy, and provides a caresheet that can be used for all forest scorpions. “Feed twice every three weeks, and make sure to always use live feeders—crickets, roaches, or superworms—for its meal,” he says.
The floor of its enclosure—which can range in size from a small- to medium sized plastic storage container to a 15-gallon glass tank, depending on one’s preferences and requirements—must be covered with 3 to 4 inches of cocopeat substrate. John suggests making a false bottom to hide a shallow water dish and decorating the enclosure with plastic plants.
Scorpion owners must remember to regulate the enclosure’s humidity levels within 78 to 82%, since this particular breed is sensitive to humidity changes. John shares this DIY tip: “All you have to do is dump water in its substrate and cover the enclosure completely, leaving just a small crack for air. If you have one of those plastic enclosures, just drill a minimum of 4 holes for air and you’re good to go.”
Selecting Your Scorpion
In The Herpetocultural Library: Scorpions Plus Other Popular Invertebrates (2006), Jerry G. Walls shares tips for selecting a healthy scorpion from a breeder:
1) A healthy scorpion will be active under low-light conditions and will retreat when challenged. If a pencil is slowly waved in front of it, it will either try to escape or it will attack. If a scorpion presents little to no movement, it is most certainly unwell.
2) Healthy scorpions usually hold the tail high over the body, with the sting ready for use.
3) When you go to acquire your scorpions, they may sometimes be housed with other specimens, which is a very stressful environment for solitary creatures. Ask the breeder to move it
to a separate container and give it a few minutes to adjust. Offer it a cricket or mealworm and see how it reacts: a healthy scorpion will notice its presence and maybe even attack it.
This appeared as “A Powerful Scorpion” in Animal Scene’s December 2015 issue.