Parabuthus transvaalicus (commonly called Black Thick Tail) is a large and impressive scorpion that is native of the Deserts and Savannahs of Southern Africa. Since this species is only sporadically imported, hobbyists should really try to breed this species so that we wont be dependant on imports.
Breeding this species is relatively easy and straight forward. I have successfully bred this species twice now and one of my females was recently bred again so that I will have another batch in a few months.
First, it is neccessary to get a pair that are of the opposite sex. The pectinal tooth count for this species isnt a good way as there is often an overlap in the tooth count between the sexes. It is very easy to sex out a pair as long as they are adults since the males are thinner built with more bulbous chela (claws).
Note the thin built and more bulbous claws of the male
Now note the thinner claws yet more robust build of the female
Housing for this species can be very simple. I am currently using wide/flat deli cups to house mine. Any KritterKeeper, Sterlite Box or even 2-10 gallon tank can be used. It is neccessary to provide plenty of ventilation holes in order to quickly dissipate moisture quickly. The screen type tops of KritterKeepers and normal tanks will do well. If using a deli cup or Sterlite type box be sure to drill plenty of holes for the extra ventilation. Since when I do water about once a month I overflow the water dish a little. If there is not enough ventilation when doing this, the specimens risk getting am infection known as Mycosis.
Substrate can be either dry peat,sand or even clean garden soil as long as it is very dry. Also some cork bark or some other hide should be added to the enclosure.
Although they will live at the cooler temps that many keep tarantulas at, temperatures of 80F-90F should be maintained when breeding. If kept in cooler temperatures the juveniles dont grow very well and often the adults will give birth to undeveloped young.
I always introduce a male into the female's enclosure.If both are mature and the female not mated they will often mate right before your eyes. Mating actually more closely resembles rape as the male will clasp the claws of the female and drag her onto something hard such as a stone or cork bark. There he drops a spermatophore and pulls the female over it. She then absorbs the sperm and they break up. It is a good idea to remove the male at this point as he can become lunch for the female although I have actually had one couple cohabitate.
Gestation has varied for the females I have bred. The first female had a gestation of almost 11 months and give birth to 54 young. The second female had a gestation of 7 months and appears to have more young but I havent counted them yet at the time of this writing as they are still on the Mother's back. My temperatures were at 82-86F.
After the young molt 1 time they will start to disperse from the Mother. Now comes the fun part of separating them out. For early instars I like to use small condiment cups with a shallow layer of sand. Like with the adults, they need to be kept warm and dry so be sure to have plenty of small ventilation holes in the condiment cup and preferably on the side. As the young grow you can move them to bigger containers. About once a month or before a coming molt I will often put 1 or 2 drops of water in the condiment cup. If the moisture doesnt evaporate in a few hours you will need to increase the ventilation and change out the substrate so it is dry again.
Note: This species is known to have a strong venom and the ability to spray venom. Please exercise caution when working with this species.
I wish to thank my friends Patrick Bultel, Eric Ythier, TC van der Ende and Alex Tietz for advice in the past. Their advice has helped make this and several of my other Scorpion Breeding Projects a success.