The Molting Process of Emperor Scorpions
Emperor scorpions are one of the larger species of scorpions. Some grow to be eight inches long. Born in litters by the mother scorpion they will undergo several periods of growth before reaching adulthood themselves. They live well in captivity and, though not usually fatal stingers, it is best not to handle them any more than necessary.
Scorpions are crustaceans and have exoskeletons, or hard shells, around their bodies. The internal portions of the scorpion grow continuously until adulthood and, since the outside shell does not stretch, it must “shed” the smaller shell and produce a new, larger one. The process of shedding the smaller shell is known as molting. The old shell, or skin, of the scorpion is called the shed. The shed will look just like the scorpion except it will be empty.
Molting by Emperor Scorpions will take place about five to seven times before the scorpions reach adulthood. Before they begin the molting process they become quite fat. The younger scorpions have tails that are more of a white color. As they get older, the tail becomes more yellow. Once adulthood is reached the tail is usually a reddish-brown. Adult scorpions will no longer molt as they have reached their adult size.
Molting for Emperor scorpions is a process that can take 10 to 12 hours. A lot of energy is used during molting and the scorpions will refuse food just prior to beginning to molt. (This is one reason they grow so fat just before the molting process begins!). The scorpions will usually try to hide themselves as best they can when molting. If it is in captivity it should be provided with many places in which to hide and withdraw from view. They struggle free of their old shells and produce a new shell that will be soft and white. Until the new shell hardens, the scorpions will be vulnerable to enemies. They hide as well as they can during molting and must be extremely cautious afterward as they can be easily injured.
Molting is a fascinating process that allows the Emperor Scorpion to gain in size and is one of nature’s greatest wonders. An Emperor Scorpion will reach its adult size, depending on whether living in captivity or in natural habitats, in 1 to 4 years. The average lifetime of an Emperor Scorpion is 8 to 10 years.