Although they may look like a pet insect or scorpion, a whip scorpion is neither. Being an arachnid, whip scorpions are closer to spiders in terms of genetic makeup than an insect or a scorpion. Despite its monstrous look and intimidating name, however, a whip scorpion is a gentle pet arachnid to have. It’s gentler than other pet insects, and it’s not venomous compared to real scorpions.
Whip Scorpion as Pet
Whip scorpions are non venomous compared to real scorpions, and they rarely use their pincers to inflect damage to a human being. Their whip tail is nothing like a whip also; it practically does nothing in terms of defense. The only defense they have is to spray vinegar to startle another prey. So they are a safe choice for children who want a venomous pet insect or spider. Whip scorpions are not demanding in terms of care and maintenance too, so you never have to worry in case you’re left to care for the arachnid when your son goes to summer camp.
Whip Scorpion Description
A whip scorpion got its name because of its appearance; it looks like a scorpion with a long thin tail like a whip and foreboding pincers like scorpions’. The arachnid can grow anywhere between 0.98 mm to 85 mm with most averaging to 30 mm in length. To defend itself, it sprays vinegar from its abdomen, thus its other name vinegaroons. People not familiar with a whip scorpion may mistaken it for a pet insect because it walks using 6 legs only when really the other pair of legs in the front is modified for use as antennae.
Feeding a Whip Scorpion
Part of the fun of having a pet whip scorpion is to watch it hunt for its food. Whip scorpions are fed with live feeder insects, so they appreciate freshly caught insects in the garden like grasshoppers, crickets, forest cockroach, etc. If you can’t be bothered to hunt for insects, you can order mealworms or crickets from your nearest exotic pet store. An adult whip scorpion can eat a full meal, meaning large insect, at least 3 times a week. Keep clean water in a shallow water dish with sponge in your pet’s tank all the time.
Housing a Whip Scorpion
Lucky for you whip scorpions are diurnal, so you can observe them active during the day. They come from the tropics so they need their tank to be relatively warm at about 20 degrees Celsius. A heat mat laid under half of the tanks bottom is the number one choice for heating. They thrive well in sphagnum or peat moss substrate that allows them to burrow. To complete the set up, have some hiding place like log tunnel or a creviced rock.
Handling a Whip Scorpion
Unlike in other pet insects, children can hold whip scorpions. The pet, however, is easily spooked, so sudden movements or touch should be avoided when handling whip scorpions. They should never be held high from the ground because a bad fall can kill them. They must be held low on the ground; they’re not allowed to run over the edge of a table; and they should never be picked up by their tails.
Choosing a Whip Scorpion
If you don’t want to end up with a bunch of little whip scorpions, always ask the pet store owner to give you a male whip scorpion. If you want a female, make sure it’s not pregnant. A healthy pet whip scorpion is active that can run pretty fast. It’s not limp, and it should have 4 pairs of legs including the antennae, a pair of pincers, and a whip tail.
Whip scorpions are a perfect pet for people who love to observe. They are perfect for children not just because they’re pretty docile, but because they make good pets for show and tell too.