Bugs Like Enrichment, Too!

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When keeping terrestrial invertebrates, such as insects, spiders, scorpions, and centipedes, we are responsible for every aspect of their environment.  This includes the temperature, humidity, lighting, food, substrate, tank mates, hiding spots (or lack thereof), etc.  The brain of most invertebrates is very small, compared to most other types of animals.  There are complicated innate behaviors in colonial insects, like ants and bees.  Otherwise the behaviors are purely a response to any new stimulus in the environment:  Can I eat this new thing? Can it eat me? Should I hide? Is it too bright out for me? Is it too wet?  Should I defend myself?

For our emperor scorpions, we see the most activity when we give these bugs new enrichment.  On a grand scale, totally cleaning a bug’s enclosure is the biggest variation they experience.  The new substrate and any new cage decorations will have new scents and textures that will highly stimulate the scorpions.  For example, it may try to find a new safe hiding spot.  You can also give them some deep dirt to dig a new burrow.  Every few days adding new leaf litter or new pieces of wood or stone will add additional textures, smells, and options for hide spots to their enclosure.

Scorpions are avid hunters, but they can’t be fed every day, or they would become obese.  You can try to simulate hunting behavior with enrichment items.  They will stalk and ambush a fine water spray that is used to rehydrate their enclosure.  Roses and other flowers will glow under certain lights just like some of their favorite prey – smaller scorpions.  When developing new enrichment activities for invertebrates, think about their natural behaviors and brainstorm ways to encourage those behaviors.  The roses and the water spray were both accidental successes, so think outside the box and give it a try.