Stating that scorpions inhabit a lot of the world is a misnomer. When people think of scorpions, they’ll think of two things. Desert and stinging, while the former is correct for the species that I am covering today, scorpions inhabit other areas not commonly thought of, such as tropical regions, and even caves! Scorpions have inhabited the earth for millions of years. Currently there are approximately 1,500 recognized species according to Texas A&M University[i] only 15 species are currently kept in captivity[ii].
One of the more popular species for new keepers is the Arizona Hairy Scorpion Hadrurus arizonensis. The Hadrurus genus is sometimes known by another common name, Giant Hairy Scorpions; both adjectives are accurate as they are the largest species of scorpions found in North America and the setae or hairs are visible on the body. They are also sold as Hairy Scorpions or Desert Hairy Scorpion. The setae or hairs act as radar or antennae alerting them to prey and predators alike.
While it may be true that all “Hairy” Scorpions can be maintained in a similar manner it would present issues if you tried breeding two separate species which do look similar. With the Hadrurus spadix and Hadrurus arizonensis it would be hard to confuse the two species. It is not so easy to tell the difference between the Hadrurus spadix and Hadrurus obscurus while Hadrurus obscurus is rare, it is seen in the industry. This is another reason why I encourage people to learn the Latin or scientific names of the species they want to keep. It avoids confusion when buying species of reptiles, insects, and amphibians. A great way to learn is to read the works of others and I am not speaking of just this post check out our Reptile & Invertebrate Library.
Hairy Scorpion Description
The Arizona Hairy Scorpion Hadrurus arizonensis obtain an adult size of 31/2 to 4” and are a yellow in color almost like darkened hay or straw. As mentioned earlier they are known by the common name “Hairy” Scorpion for the fine stiff hairs which cover the entire body known technically as setae. They also have fairly large pedipalps or pincers. This single attribute tells us something very specific about scorpions in general. Large pedipalps or pincers on any scorpion means that they have a lower toxicity of venom in the sting when compared to those with smaller pincers.
Hadrurus arizonensis are a considered a docile species that will generally run from a non-prey item encounter. However, if cornered and agitated they will sting. In most cases this results in mild pain and swelling at the site of envenomation. For further information on venom please follow this link which will lead you to the venom page.
Keeping Captive Hairy Scorpions
The captive enclosure for most scorpion species is a standard ten gallon enclosure. Rather than a regular enclosure you can also use a “breeder” enclosure which is not as tall and has the same amount of floor space. However, these make potential escapes more likely. Although I have never had an escape, I have heard of escapes. Again this is probably due to the fact that I use a regular ten gallon enclosure which I mentioned previously versus the “breeder” size.
The Arizona Desert Hairy Scorpion Hadrurus arizonensis environment in the wild is obviously a desert type of habitat which entails dry sandy loam soil. They are known to burrow in this soil extensively. To replicate this environment I use my personal standard of washed play sand at a depth of 3-4 ½”. In the sand I bury two toilet paper rolls on either side of the enclosure so that they are at a 45 degree angle with the mouth of the rolls just breaking the surface of the sand which acts as a pre-dug burrow.
Presumably you can use PVC pipe as well, I am not sure this would work as the pipe is smooth and the scorpion may not be able to climb back out. You may be able to apply some aquarium silicone to the interior of the pipe and then pour some sand through it, allow it to dry, then place this inside. This would give the scorpion something to grip. I haven’t tried this yet with scorpions but I know it works for other species.
In order to facilitate a natural environment I place a piece of dried ocotillo and a few pieces of slate rock in the enclosure. The flat slate rocks are supported by another small rock resting on the bottom of the enclosure itself. This way if the scorpion burrows beneath the slate, it will not be crushed. Alternatively you could use aquarium silicone to “glue” the pieces together. Make sure you use nothing else other than aquarium silicone as any other type of cement or glue may have toxic properties which will kill the scorpion.
As far heating is concerned we keep our year round at about 75 degrees with an 85 degree basking spot provided through the use of 65 watt Ceramic Heating element so we don’t disturb the normal circadian rhythm of day and night cycles. If you want you can turn on a black light some times and the scorpion will fluoresce with an eerie bluish glow. All scorpions do this and science doesn’t as of yet have an explanation for why but it does look cool at night. I wouldn’t leave it on all the time but using it as a parlor trick so to speak is kind of fun.