Common name: Emperor Scorpion
Scientific name: Pandinus imperator
Synonyms: Pandinus africanus, Heterometrus roeseli
CITES listing: Appendix II (16/02/1995)
Distribution: West Africa
Photo: © Scott Stockwell
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The actual distribution of this common species is somewhat sketchy. Whilst the center of distribution for the genus appears to be East Africa, the natural distribution of this species appears to be in West Africa.
Like all Scorpionidae, this species is an obligate burrower. Food is any animal smaller than themselves. In captivity, they will eat lizards and small mice. Pandinus imperator is unusually docile and very slow to sting. Although young emperor scorpions use their stings in a normal fashion, adults rarely use the sting to subdue prey, prefering to kill prey with their massive claws. Even when stinging in defense, adults may not inject venom. Though large in size, this species is not considered dangerous to humans. Nonetheless, they are venomous. All scorpions are viviparous, meaning that the babies develop within the mother, gaining nutrients for growth directly from her, and are born alive. In scorpionid scorpions, embryonic development is katoikogenic. That means that the embryos develop within specialized sacs on the female's overiuterus. A highly specialized structure connects the embryo's mouth to the female's digestive system. Parental care seems to be very important in this species. The young seem to exhibit increased survival when maintained together in family groups. Pandinus imperator is a very popular and common pet scorpion. They don't make much noise and are very good with children.