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Battle of the Beetles: Man gets rich selling rhinoceros beetles in southern Thailand



Beetle fighting season is almost upon us, and one man from southern Thailand says his rhinoceros beetles are heading straight to the top of the beetle battle championships.

Every rainy season in Thailand, male rhinoceros beetles go head to head on a wooden pole. A female beetle is placed underneath, whose scent stimulates the males to fight until one backs down. Bug enthusiasts place their bets on who will reign champion. The stakes can be as high as 100,000 baht.

One man from Chiang Kham district in Phayao province spent the past 5 years learning how to breed the toughest, meanest, most durable rhinoceros beetles. Everyone in the industry wants to buy a beetle from 33 year old Kittiporn “Ben” Suriyamanee, whose beetles have won over 10 competitions so far.

Ben says he has had a passion for rhinoceros beetles since he was a child, and has since learned how to breed them through YouTube. Now, he makes 100,000 baht per month selling the insects via his Facebook page “Fighting Rhinoceros Beetles: Chiang Kham.”

Ben says his beetles have the longest and sharpest horns which makes them unbeatable in the ring. Depending on their characteristics, the price of Ben’s beetles ranges from 100 – 1000 baht.

August to October are Ben’s busiest months when he makes an average of 100,000 baht selling beetles online. Even out of season, Ben still makes around 70,000 baht per month from selling beetles, which isn’t even his main occupation. His main source of income is another online shop which sells a range of items.

Not all Ben’s beetles are designed to fight. At beetle battles, there are usually two competitions: a beetle battle and a beetle beauty contest. So, Ben also breeds pageant beetles, which he says are made-to-order. He says he can breed beetles to be red, black, big, or small and have various characteristics, traits, and “beauty standards.”

Ben’s beetles start as worms in plastic tanks. After 3 months, the beetles will be separated into male and female, and only the males are selected to be raised to adulthood. After 10 or 11 months, the beetles are ready to go up for sale.

Entrepreneurial Ben also collects the rhinoceros beetles’ dung and sells it to farmers as fertilizer. He says applying beetle dung just one time provides plant nutrients for up to 6 months.

Ben says if anyone is interested in buying a beetle or simply learning more, you are welcome to contact him through his Facebook page.



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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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