1..(Urodacus manicatus)Care Sheet
Black Rock Scorpion (Urodacus manicatus)
The Scorpion: This scorpion is considered to be an early form of the Urodacus genera due to its distribution being consistent with mesic or average rainfall areas. It shows the most basic morphological plan common to all the Urodacus scorpions with little movement or survival into the drier areas of Australia. It is found right throughout the Great Divide, from the Mount Lofty Ranges in SA, through Victoria, Canberra and into northern NSW. Its way of life is most similar to that of Urodacus elongatus, the Flinders Ranges scorpion.
The Black Rock scorpion is aptly named as it is a rock dwelling species and therefore nearly always found in association with rocks and most commonly on hillsides where water drainage reduces the chances of being flooded out. Also as the name suggests it is often black or very close, although it does have a wide distribution and colour does vary quite a bit, with some forms tending towards more of a reddish brown colour. Those found in the Mt Lofty Ranges of South Australia have a distinctly dull grey mesosoma (body) with a shiny black (prosoma) head and pedipalps (claws).
It will construct a scrape or living area under a rock with a short burrow at one end, generally the farthest away from the rocks entrance point. It spends the hot summer months under ground with the burrow sealed off to prevent water loss from its body. During the cooler months you will find them occupying the scrape, with mating taking place in spring/early summer and new born with mum around March. Anywhere from 10 Ė 40 live offspring will fall into mumís birth basket before making their way to her back. They will remain there for usually about 3-4 weeks before shedding their skins to become 2nd instars, after which they will remain until the new exoskeleton hardens which takes a week or so. When this happens they will gradually disperse away from mum to live independent lives.
Due to its close association with damp ground for quite a few months every year this scorpion is quite fungus resistant and is unlikely to develop mycosis (fungal infection) in captivity. Its relative ease of captive rearing is partly attributable to its close association with the ground surface. As with other rock dwelling scorpions it has become accustomed to greater swings in temperature, humidity and soil water levels than desert burrowing species that occupy a far more stable subterranean environment.
Care in Captivity:
Conditions and Housing: This scorpion can be kept in a variety of ways as a reflection of its surface predominant life history.
1) Small Containers: The easiest setup is simply a plastic container of sorts, anything from a takeaway food container to a larger and deeper container readily available at a good price in todayís market. All you need to do is have at least some of the soil slightly damp. I suggest a 50:50 coco-peat/soil mix or even just straight coco-peat, it wonít matter a lot. It will be a good idea to add some vegetative fibre such as coco-peat to help the substrate hold water. Do remember though, it is not a rainforest species and so you only need slight dampness, it DOES NOT require to be saturated. The animal occupies both wet and dry schlerophyll forests, both of which are temperate and become relatively dry over summer. Small containers do not need to be sealed, but set them up with small holes to keep humidity up and avoid the chances of desiccation. Larger plastic containers can have greater ventilation as they will have a lot more substrate and hence less likely to dry out. Place light cover inside such as pieces of native tree bark etc. Broken ceramic pot pieces are also quite popular. When adding water to the home, only ever do at one end, so a water gradient is created. Have cover available from the damp end to the drier end so the scorpion has good choice. If the substrate is deep enough and the deeper the better, bury bark into the soil to create a depth of organic debris in which the scorpion can bury itself down into. It will find its preferred place of dampness and humidity.
2) Larger Ė Glass Aquariums and deep plastic housings. This method will give your keeping the greatest scope and is the most recommended. Your scorpionís house needs to be a decent depth and I suggest at least 250mm, more if possible. This is method is called the ĎFalse Bottom Systemí. It is a system that best mimics that which occurs in the wild and therefore should give the greatest success if managed correctly.
Add a layer of scoria, pebbles or gravel to the base of the container, make it about 30mm deep or so. To one corner add a plastic irrigation pipe or similar. Cut a v into the base of the pipe so it cannot become blocked and stand it upright so that it fits neatly into a corner. Cut it long enough so that it nearly reaches the top. You will be adding water to this pipe so think about how its location will affect access. While holding the pipe in place add your depth of substrate which should be a soil/plant fibre mix such as coco-peat/dirt or similar. Before adding it dampen it and then pack it in. After you have added about half the depth of your substrate start adding pieces of bark or natural native woods such as mallee roots. Have them on angles to allow passage into the substrate. You are creating a wood debris layer here that will have lots of hiding places, especially if you intend on keeping more than one scorpion in the tank. I suggest you make the substrate as deep as possible so it will hold the most water and have the best gradient. 150mm would be my preferred minimum, but you could probably get away with 100mm. That is about it. Donít use heavy objectson top as they can crush your scorpion in this type of setup. If you wish to use rocks, thatís fine, but have them large enough so they are sitting on the base of the tank and cannot move, simply add the stone and substrate around them. Also have a decent clearance between the glass or container wall and any heavy objects so the scorpion canít jam itself. Scorpions are unfamiliar with surfaces as smooth as glass or plastic.
You will want to use an open screen lid for ventilation in this system. This will allow natural evaporation and so the top layers of soil will become relatively dry.
Maintenance of the system: As this is a temperate species try to follow the summer/winter pattern. In winter keep the water levels higher, in summer allow the top soil to become drier. If you do this you will have the greatest success with breeding and life phases such as molting. Never allow the bottom layers of soil to dry out completely. Allow a day/night cycle. No heating is required and no water bowls are recommended. Lightly spray a mist of water every week or so during winter at the end of the tank where the water tube is located, this will predominately be the dampest end. This scorpion will drink free liquid water although if well fed this will be unnecessary as scorpions derive more than enough water from their prey items.
Lighting: For lighting I suggest using a red coloured low wattage party type of globe. Scorpions donít see the red spectrum very well and so this light should not disturb them. Have the light set up so that the viewer cannot see the globe itself, but rather only the light it gives off. Do Not use ultra violet for continued observation, use it sparingly and always keep scorpions out of sunlight.
Breeding: It will be your choice to remove any young scorpions or leave them in the big tank. If you wish to move them to a similar system away from the adults, then you will need to remove the gravid female before she gives birth or while the young are still on her back as once they disperse youíll never find them all without completely destroying the tanks habitat. You can either choose to keep each young scorpion in a separate small sealed or semi-sealed container or set up another false bottom tank to keep some or all of them in. I DO NOT suggest keeping these scorpions together, especially young with larger cohorts as they are quite territorial. However given a large enough tank with many well dispersed hiding places, you should have some success with a communal setup.
Feeding: Drill cricket sized holes into the lid of the housing, so that crickets can easily be popped in with minimum disturbance. I find its good to have one or two crickets roaming inside a large tank at all times, donít have too many as they can be a nuisance especially to scorpions shedding their skin, but in a good setup as described above your scorpions will be fine.
This Care sheet has been written for the Green Scorpion
By Mark Newton.
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