One of the most highly prized pets in China is – in fact – a bug. Crickets can get quite tame but you’ll have to work fast they only live about three months. it’s a thousand-year-old tradition royal concubines once kept crickets to ward of loneliness. They’re also believed to bring luck, good health, and prosperity. So restaurants often hang them outside
their front doors. But many Chinese are looking for a special kind of cricket – one that can win a fight. The place to find those is Guan Yuan pet market in Beijing. Why are cricket fights so popular? Because many Chinese love to bet on things… like what happens when two insects go to war. But how do you know if you have a champion… bug? The strongest fighters apparently have thick necks, bright eyes, big jaws, and most importantly – long and flexible antenna. Though most of these just look half-dead to me. A fighting cricket can cost of little as a buck fifty or as much as $8,000. Serious cricket owners make the yearly pilgrimage to northeastern Shandong Province known to produce China’s most celebrated insect warriors. Once you have your cricket you’ll want to feed it a winning diet like ground shrimp and dew collected between 4 and 5 a.m. Cages can be quite elaborate though mostly crickets just like to stay warm and dry. Until it’s time for them to fight. This is just a practice round for training and evaluation. They use thin blades of straw to get them riled up. They bite, butt heads, and try to throw each other out of the ring. The loser usually flees. If it’s a tie then the loudest chirp wins. An enormous amount of money changes hands. $10,000 bets are common. Behind closed doors, of course. Gambling is illegal in China. And insect doping is a serious problem. In a real match they’d weight each cricket to make sure it was an equal fight. winners get names like Red General or Purple Toothed King. Losers and those that don’t want to fight may take a one-way trip to Beijing’s night market. Where bugs a center stage. Though most Chinese know to leave the deep fried spiders, centipedes, and scorpions to the tourists. They’re hollow and taste like low tide. Beatles and cicadas too. Though they tend to have softer insides. Sheep penis is equally inedible unless you have a fondness for shoe leather. Silkworm pupae are actually quite tasty – like balls of tofu that take on the flavor of whatever sauce you put them in. Chinese are unusually open-minded when it comes to food. Most don’t have dietary restrictions and, as a culture, they rarely waste anything.