Entertainment

Rhinoceros Beetle Betting

  • A common pastime in Northern Thailand
  • The beetles are harmless
  • It's part of the culture
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A Fearsome Rhino Beetle

 

Insect fighting is a popular pastime all over the world. In Thailand, where the more extreme sport of cockfighting is very popular, participants take part in Rhinoceros Beetle betting. They use a fearful looking bug, known as “kwaang” by the locals. Socializing, drinking and gambling, along with catching and taking care of the beetles, is a subculture among the people of Northern Thailand.

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 Place your bets!                                                               Photo: Aydan Stuart

Introduction: Rhinoceros Beetle Betting

In Northern Thailand groups of often poor farmers get together for the sport of Rhinoceros Beetle fighting. Not quite the same as betting with Bovada. And not quite in the same league as bear baiting or dog fighting. This takes place over the weekends of the beetle mating season between September and October. During this period, you’ll find beetles for sale at the roadside for a couple of dollars.

The Beetles

The Rhinoceros Beetle is among the largest beetles in the world and they can often reach over 6cm in length. Their name comes from the “horn” which are really their mouth pincers which angle upwards when closed. The males use these horns during the mating season to assert their dominance. Proportionally, the Rhinoceros Beetles is the strongest animal on the planet. It can lift up over 850 times it’s own weight. To put this into perspective, its the same as a human being able to lift a 65 ton object. Though they certainly look scary, they are in fact totally harmless. In all parts of Asia they are popular pets.

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 Rhinoceros Beetle Betting: Game On!                       Photo:Taylor Weidman/Al Jazeera

The Fight

The beetles are collected at night in the jungle and are places on sugar cane, the syrup of which is believed to give them extra strength. The beetles are then put into a small arena where the fights take place. They are matched for both size and aggression. Then the Rhinoceros Beetle betting takes place. It’s just like betting on the horses. Have a peek at these online gambling sites in the US. Of course you can examine the beetles before placing your wager. The actual fight takes place on a raised platform, with each beetles owner/trainer sitting on opposite sides. The beetles fight on top of a hollow log of wood. Inside is a breeding female and it’s the pheromones she produces that cause the males to fight. They try to push and lift their opponents with their horns, The winning beetle is the one to break the other’s horn, push it off the log or cause it to flee.

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So you wanna fight?                                              Photo: Taylor Weidman/Al Jazeera

The Rhinoceros Beetle Betting

The actual matches start with a new round each time the beetles lock horns. It there are more than 12 rounds, then that’s a draw. Obviously there’s a lot of Rhinoceros Beetle betting going on. Online gambling news in the US says that’s with the range of bets from 100 baht ($3) up to as much as 50,000 baht ($1,400), though that’s rare. You can wager equal amounts with Bovada. The losing beetles is let go into the wild. With the winners staying on to fight another day. Sometimes winning beetles can exchange hands for sums of up to 3,000 baht ($84) and more.

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