Weird Nature Things You Never Knew About The Emperor Scorpion, The Largest Scorpion On Earth  

Karen Lindell
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What's in a name? Is the Emperor scorpion, or Pandinus imperator, really the sovereign ruler of the arthropod phylum? Yeah, kind of. The Emperor is the largest scorpion in the world, making it bigger than about 1,750 other species of scorpion. But don't despair if you happen across one of these monster predatory arachnids in line at the grocery store - despite the sinister stinger and mammoth pinchers, Emperor scorpions are fairly docile, and one of the most common pet scorpions.

In the wild, amazing Emperor scorpions are found in West Africa, typically in rainforests or savannas. They live communally, and have some pretty strange mating habits. As the scorpion facts on this list will attest, these creatures are very different than you might expect from a perfectly honed killing machine. Which people keep as pets. Because, sure, why not? Dogs and cats are killers, too, right? 

They're Among The Largest Scorpions In The World


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Photo:  John/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

Depending on how you slice it, Emperor scorpions are the biggest scorpions on earth. They can weigh as much as 28 grams (about one ounce), and grow as long as eight inches (the average is five to seven inches long). For reference, an unsharpened pencil is seven-and-a-half inches long. A species from India is reportedly longer than the Emperor scorpion, but none are more massive. 

Yet perhaps it’s most accurate to say the Empress scorpion is the biggest scorpion on earth, because she’s heavier than her male counterpart, at least when pregnant, though males have bigger pectines (special comb-like sensory organs behind their legs that help them navigate).

They're Venomous, But Not Harmful To Humans


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Photo:  Mark Dumont/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

Sure, Emperor scorpions have terrifying stingers, but their venom isn't fatal to humans unless you're allergic. If you don't know whether you're allergic to scorpion venom, maybe just avoid being stung. 

Emperor scorpions use their venom mainly as a defense mechanism, and their pincers to tear apart prey. A sting or pinch will hurt and may draw blood, but they can't inflict lasting damage on humans. 

Their Venom Might Be Used To Eradicate Malaria


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Photo:  Kevin Walsh/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

According to one study, a molecule called scorpine isolated from Emperor scorpion venom might have anti-malarial and anti-bacterial qualities. To quote the study, "The long range aim of the work is to incorporate into mosquitoes the genes encoding the bioactive peptides to produce transgenic vectors resistant to malaria."

It seems the plan is to eradicate malaria at the source by suppressing it in mosquitoes, rather than trying to develop a cure to administer to affected humans. 

Their Mating Ritual Involves A Dance, And Females May Eat And Kill Males If Unimpressed


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Video: YouTube

As with many other species of scorpions, when Pandinus imperator mates, the male and female do an elaborate dance, which can be seen in the National Geographic video above. The male stings and kissed the female before depositing a packet of sperm on the ground for the female to pick up (she places the sperm in her body, leaving the packet on the ground). If the female isn't pleased with how the male performs, she might kill and eat him.