Whip Scorpions (a.k.a. Vinegaroons) as Pets

Insects, spiders, and scorpions make fun and interesting pets, but one of the best little creatures to have is the whip scorpion, or vinegaroon (also known as vinegarroons or vinegarones) as it is commonly called. These little guys look much like scorpions do but are actually more closely related to spiders and other arachnids. Vinegaroons are becoming increasingly popular as pets because of their manageability and the fact that they can be handled without much problem.

If you are interested in a unique, exotic pet that typically has a gentle disposition, vinegaroons could be the pet for you. While they make great pets for beginners and enthusiasts alike, it is important to know what exactly you are getting yourself into and how best to care for your new little friend. Here is everything you will need to know about vinegaroons all in one place.

What are Vinegaroons?

vinegaroon

The scientific name for vinegaroons is Uropygi. Although they look like scorpions (hence their nickname “whip scorpion”), they are actually a part of the arachnid class, making them more like spiders than scorpions or even insects. They range in length from 25 mm to 85 mm (1 to 3.3 inches). Because of their long legs and whip-like tail, they can appear much larger. They have eight legs, but the front two are used as sensory organs like antennae. Similar to scorpions, they have two pincers and eight eyes, two in the front and three on each side of the head.

Whip scorpions are often mistaken for their tailless counterparts, the whip spiders (also known as tailless whip scorpions). The scientific name for whip spiders is Amblypygi, and they are also common to have as pets. The most popular one is the Tanzanian Giant Tailless Whip Scorpion. These guys are just as exotic, harmless, and low maintenance as their whip-tail brothers.

Where do vinegaroons live?

Vinegaroons can be found in tropical regions around the world, except for Europe and Australia, and only one species is known to exist in Africa. They often burrow in the ground to avoid the heat and light. As of 2006, there have been over 100 vinegaroon species found around the world.

Can vinegaroons hurt you?

One of the nice things about vinegaroons is that they are pretty harmless. One of the most important differences between whip scorpions and traditional scorpions is the vinegaroons’ lack of venom. They rarely ever use their pincers to pinch and their whip-like tail doesn’t sting or do anything much in terms of defense. They mainly use it to crush their prey.

The only thing you need to look out for with vinegaroons is the spray they give off when they are disturbed. It’s an acidic substance that comes from their tails and smells similar to vinegar, hence their nickname “vinegaroon.” This spray is also harmless, but it can be an irritant, so just don’t annoy the whip scorpion, and you’ll be fine.

Why a pet vinegaroon?

Vinegaroons are becoming increasingly popular as pets, especially the tailless whip scorpions. This is because, despite their rather ugly bug/scorpion appearance, they are more help than harm. Vinegaroons actually play a very large role in managing the cricket and cockroach populations. They even prey on actual scorpions.

Also, because they are pretty docile creatures, you can count on them to be safe pets, even for children. Unlike most insect, spider, or scorpion pet, the vinegaroon can be handled without any worry of it hurting you. You just have to be careful not to pick it up by its tail or holding it too high from the ground, because a bad fall could kill it. You’ll also want to be careful not to spook it with sudden movements because it will spray you with its vinegary substance.

Because of its calm nature, vinegaroons make great show and tell pets. You can even let it crawl all over you without any fear that it will harm you! There aren’t many terrifying-looking creatures you can do that with.

How much do vinegaroons cost?

Adult vinegaroons usually cost anywhere between $20 to $30 US dollars if you buy them online. It would be better to purchase them from a pet store or insect store, because online purchases risk dead vinegaroons being shipped to your door. However, since vinegaroons have become more popular pets, they can be a little hard to find. Just start asking around to see if there are any pet stores near you that sell vinegaroons.

If you have the opportunity to pick out your vinegaroon beforehand, you should look for healthy signs in your pet to assure you get one that will live when you bring it home. Healthy vinegaroons can run pretty fast and are not limp. Double check that they have four pairs of legs (three pairs used for legs, one for antennae), a pair of pincers, and a whip tail.

How to care for your pet vinegaroon

Now that you know all about the vinegaroon, it’s time to discuss how best to take care of it. Vinegaroons are nocturnal predators who like arid and tropical climates, so it is important to take that into account when you start creating a habitat for it.

Setup for pet vinegaroon

The largest vinegaroons grow up to 76 mm (3 inches). If you get a tailless whip scorpion, they can be up to 101 mm (4 inches). This means you should provide your pet vinegaroon with a tank or terrarium at least 300 mm long, 450 mm tall, and could usually hold 19 liters (5 gallons).

You should fill your vinegaroon’s terrarium with things like rocks, driftwood, and other similar items that can make good hiding places. The substrate should be 4 to 6 inches of peat moss or potting soil with a little fine gravel or crushed walnut shells mixed in. It should be kept at 24 to 27 degrees Celsius (75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and should have 75 to 85 per cent humidity. You can put a shallow dish of water or wet sponge to provide humidity.

What do vinegaroons eat?

Image: David Kelly

As mentioned earlier, vinegaroons eat a variety of other pests that you don’t like to see crawling around the house. Most species of vinegaroons prefer crickets, but they will also eat mealworms, cockroaches, and millipedes. While you can feed them their food dead or alive, it is better to provide live prey so they have the chance to hunt as they would do in the wild. You don’t need to feed them often either. Two to three crickets, or a similar ration of other bugs, per month, is satisfactory for these little guys. Many people end up overfeeding them by giving them the same amount per week. It is also a good idea to feed them at night since vinegaroons are naturally nocturnal. This will help promote their normal sleep cycle.

How long do vinegaroons live?

Vinegaroons, if taken well care of, can live at least seven years, if not longer. Young vinegaroons hatch white in color. Once they go through their first molt, they look more like mini adult versions. They then molt two or three more times, within the next few years. After that, they are considered adult and can live another four years after that.

If you want to avoid having baby vinegaroons running around, your best bet would be to purchase a male whip scorpion, or else be sure the female is not pregnant. If you do end up with a pregnant vinegaroon, know that she will lay between 30 and 40 eggs, and will die shortly after her young leave her burrow, which is about a month or so after they hatch.

How do they interact with other small creatures?

Generally speaking, vinegaroons do not cohabitate well with each other. They resort to cannibalism particularly when another is molting, most likely because they are slowed down and can’t escape as fast as usual. They also will eat just about anything that is smaller than them and moves, so it’s best to keep your vinegaroon by itself, unless you are trying to mate them—just make sure to remove the other before it starts to molt.

It is also important to realize that predators of vinegaroons include lizards and tarantulas, which means that you should not even consider adding your pet vinegaroon to your tarantula sanctuary. Other predators of the vinegaroon includes ground birds and small mammals like skunks, coatimundi, and raccoons.

Be a vinegaroon owner today!

Vinegaroons are a creature that seems to come from another world. These terrifying, yet harmless animals make great educational pets, or just fun pets to show off to and scare your friends with. They have some unique habits that can be very entertaining to watch. If you are fascinated by bugs and insects, this scorpion-like arachnid is just for you. Its docile nature makes it even better, because you can hold and handle it, as long as it is with care. Now that you know everything you need to know about vinegaroons and how to take care of them, you are ready to own your very own vinegaroon!