I guess this post is a discussion/rant/fact finding mission about a statement I see fairly often.
''[INSERT SPECIES HERE] is fine at room temperature''.
My first gripe is what even is room temperature? According to Google, it is the temperature us humans feel most comfortable at when lounging around indoors, where we feel neither too hot, nor too cold. For most of us, it sits somewhere around 21*c.
OK, so the official room temperature is approximately 21*c. In reality, however, how many of us live in a home that is always kept at our perfect, comfortable 21*c? I'm going to guess that it's probably not many. Why would you heat, or in the case of the lucky people that live somewhere that actually gets above 21*c (I'm British ha), cool your house to the perfect temperature when you are not there? It would be a waste of money. So, we turn off our heating/AC when we are out and the temperature of our rooms falls or rises depending on how warm or cold it is outside of our houses. In my cold British house, the temperature of a room could drop to as low as 9/10*c during the winter if the heating has not been on all day. The official room temperature always stays the same (approx. 21*c), but the temperatures of our rooms changes with the amount of time we spend in our house, time of day, season etc. etc.
Right, so I've waffled on about the temperatures of our rooms in our houses, but what bearing does this have on scorpion keeping?
''[INSERT SPECIES HERE] is fine at room temperature'', doesn't normally mean species XYZ should be kept at 21*c. Generally, when somebody says this they mean that species XYZ can be kept without additional heat i.e. at whatever the variable temperature of their room happens to be. This statement often appears on Facebook groups or forums posted by people of every nationality, about scorpion species of every locality. Some of these FB/forum users may be from tropical Thailand, others may be from freezing cold, wet, windy, wet, cloudy, wet, grey Britain (ha) and the species they are stating this about could be from the hot, humid
jungles of West Africa, or the baking deserts of the Middle East.
Now, as explained in the first paragraph, the temperatures of our rooms is in part influenced by the weather outside, at least when we are not at home, or aren't using our heating/AC, anyway. So for those users who live in a tropical or hot country, like Thailand, their rooms are going to be pretty warm, probably about the same as many of our pet scorpions countries of origin. But for those of us who live in the higher latitudes and aren't blessed with a hot climate, our rooms are going to stay pretty cool, or even cold when the heating is off ( outside of the summer months at least). They will certainly drop to a lower temperature than many of our pet scorpions would ever regularly experience, or at least remain fully active at in the wild. So why are many people giving out advice that could result in you keeping a scorpion at a colder temperature range than it would normally experience in the wild? Are scorpions hardy creatures that don't mind being kept at whatever temperature our rooms may be?
Hmmm, this is where I'm going to share my experience and opinion of room temperature and scorpions, and also hopefully get some insights and opinions from you fellow forum users.
Firstly, I do actually keep SOME of my scorpions without additional heat sources at whatever temperature my scorpion room happens to be. I guess you could say they are kept at ''room temperature''. Because the ambient temperature of my room happens to match the typical temperature these scorpion species would naturally experience in the wild, I felt that it was unnecessary to provide them with a lamp, heat mat etc. I will, however, state that the entire room is heated to an approximate ambient temperature, although this changes depending on the time of day and also the season. These scorpions that are kept at my room temperature eat, grow, breed, gestate their young and live long lives so I consider it acceptable to keep them without extra heating. So what temperature is my room? In the warmer months it tends to stay at around 23*c to 25*c during the daytime, and in the colder months it can drop as low as 14*c on the lower shelves. And what species do I have living at my room temperature? Year-round, several Euscorpius spp., plus Caraboctonus keyserlingi and Bothriurus dumayi. Notice how I said year-round in the previous sentence? This suggests that some of the other scorpion species I keep experience my room temperature for part of the year, and this is true. Quite a number of the scorpions I keep hail from desert or arid
regions that have a hot climate for part of the year, but also cool down significantly in the winter. I replicate this natural cycle by turning off additional heat sources used for these species and allow their enclosures to cool down to ambient room temperature for a certain amount of time during winter. I don't, however, consider these species as suitable for my room temperature.
Secondly, I have kept some species that I would now consider wholly unacceptable to be kept at my room temperature, at room temperature. In fact, they didn't even have the luxury of being in the 24/7 heated scorpion room that I have now when I did this. They were expected to live in boxes on shelves in my small bedroom, heated by the great British weather, and the central heating system (which was hardly ever on because my Mum was pretty frugal). Back when I did this, I didn't have the internet, I had a very bad book about arachnids, so I got all my advice from pet shop owners (!!!). What happened to all the scorpions I kept? I don't think any of them lasted a year. Pandinus imperator, Scorpio maurus, Pandinoides cavimanus, Hadrurus arizonenensis, Hadogenes paucidens all died. They didn't die straight away, but looking back now, it is fairly obvious that low temperatures played a part in them being with me for such short amounts of time. Juveniles didn't grow, all of them fasted for long periods and then out of the blue they'd die. It's quite amazing to think how long some of them lasted given that they were kept in completely unnatural conditions. It shows how tolerant scorpions can be, but even they obviously have their limits!
Finally, I now keep every species of scorpion I own at temperatures that are similar to what they would experience in their places of origin. Why have I done this? Because through researching and direct experience I have found that this is what is required to keep them healthy and alive, to get them to grow and breed, and for them to feed regularly. For the price of a bit of time spent reading and some extra heating equipment for those species that need it, I have now successfully kept, and bred scorpions for years. ''Room temperature'' in my cool climate did not work in the long term for scorpion keeping, and I believe that all species that you desire to keep that aren't from a climate zone that has a temperature similar to the room you will be keeping them in, need to be given an additional heat source.
Rounding off........this has turned into a bit of an essay! It's a statement that really annoys me because in my opinion it's based on no fact at all. I never hear of breeders or keen hobbyists keeping scorpions at ''room temperature'', so why do so many scorpion keepers still do this? Are scorpions more tolerant of low temperatures than thought by those with years of experience? Here in the UK, '' room temperature'' keeping is rife, but here in the UK you see very few breeding successes and scorpion keeping as a hobby, like it is in Germany, doesn't really exist. Could the fact that so many people in my country do little research and follow this here-say of ''room temperature'' be partly to blame for the apparent lack off success keepers have here? How far below a given species' natural temperature do you think you can keep it before it starts to affect it negatively?
I'm quite glad just to have got that off my chest haha, but I'd love to hear peoples opinions of the subject if they have any.