Beetle: the insect that is a pet in Japan

It is super normal sometimes to have preferences for less traditional animals to have at home in addition to dogs and cats. Some have birds, others prefer rodents and so on!

But have you ever heard of raising beetles as a pet? For us it may be a little strange, but in Japan it is relatively common. Let's better understand the reason for this preference. 


Many children in Japan like the idea of having a beetle as a pet.

To get an idea, it's not just about finding a beetle and putting it at home, but they have food and even a cage or little house to stay.

And it's not of any kind, but the most common ones to be found in Japan for this purpose are Kabuto Mushi (カブトムシ) and the Kuwagata (クワガタ).

Beetle: the insect that is a pet in Japan - Japanese beetle

Kabuto Mushi – Japanese Rhinoceros Beetle

Mushi means insect in Japanese and kabuto means helmet in Japanese, which refers to a samurai helmet.

Males are forty to eighty millimeters long. Females, on the other hand, are a little smaller, reaching up to sixty millimeters.

This species has as its main physical characteristic a long cephalic horn in the shape of the letter Y. This characteristic is widely used by males for mating and to maintain territories.

He is dark brown in color, with white or red eyes. Kabuto Mushi is present in Japan, Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula and eastern China.

This species of beetle lasts an average of four months as a beetle. They usually die after mating.

These beetles cost an average of 500 to 1000 yen. They are sold as pets in department stores. 

Kuwagata – Beetle with samurai helmet

The Japanese name Kuwagata comes from the stylized horns of a samurai helmet, which makes the popular insect.

This species can live up to three years. And its average size is from 2.7 cm to 8.3 cm for the male. And for females it is from 2.5 cm to 4.5 cm. 

There are about 1200 varieties of species. This type of beetle is already rarer to be found and finding it for sale can cost around 40 thousand to 150 thousand yen

But the biggest ones called ''Black Diamonds'' can cost millions of yen.

Beetle: the insect that is a pet in Japan - kuwagata beetle

How did the preference for beetles arise?

Well for a start, it's good to point out that, compared to a cat or dog, it takes up less space, eats less and doesn't need as much attention. So they can be found in large quantities in Japanese homes.

And those who usually choose to have these animals are the children who, in addition to buying them, can also capture them in the parks.

The best time to find these pets is in summer. They usually don't hang around the house because the risk of stepping on them without noticing is great.

So they usually stay in plastic or glass cages with pieces of wood and other elements that contribute to make the container closer to the reality he is used to.

Their food is fruits and special foods that can be found in pet shops. 

beetles boxing

Yes, that's right there is even a sport that beetles are used. It's very similar to the boxing ring. This tournament is called ''King Beetle'' and takes place in Tokyo. 

But these beetles should not be mere pets as they beat those who are stronger. Usually the prize is cash for the owner of the beetle.

This has become so popular that they are importing several breeds of beetles from other countries so that they can be used for this type of fight.

Beetles smuggled to Japan

In Bolivia, beetles are caught using traps that cause them to become trapped in tissue. The most targeted beetles are members of the rhinoceros beetles subfamily. 

This species is highly coveted in Japan because of its impressive horns and it helps in beetle fights.

Every year between January and May, hunters of Dynastes beetles earn an average of thirty dollars for every living beetle.

In Japan this species can cost up to five hundred dollars. The price is according to the size, shape and length of the horns.

Hunters take care of these beetles until they reach their destination. As the species Dynastes satanas is rare and is still captured, it entered the list of endangered animals. 

Beetle: the insect that is a pet in Japan - hercules beetle

These beetles are placed in plastic containers and a cardboard box and are sent by bus to an intermediary in Peru, who is then responsible for forwarding them to Japan.

Illegal insect trafficking moves a lot of money especially in Japan. Losing these insects would be harmful to everyone because they are responsible for nutrients in the forests and aerate the soil.

The species that are usually smuggled are the Satanic Dynastes and Hercules beetles as they are larger than most common in Japan.

Another advantage over Japanese beetles is the lifespan, which can be up to two years.

Japanese beetle smugglers increasingly travel to Bolivia to hunt and avoid local suppliers.

They even pay tour guides to find these beetles. But as there is no inspection there, it is difficult to be arrested for this, but it can happen along the way.

Beetle: the insect that is a pet in Japan - asobi asobase beetle

beetles in anime

Have you ever seen anime where beetles were villains, that they had powers or something?! That's because Japanese people like to portray things they like in these stories.

Examples where this happens are anime like in One Punch Man that one of the villains Ashura Kabuto, with the appearance of a gigantic rhinoceros beetle.

In the Metabots anime, Metabee is a character with his design based on a rhinoceros beetle.

In Digimon has the giant electric beetle Mega Kabuterimon. As for Naruto, Shino Aburame has gained secret techniques for controlling kikaichu insects.

And what did you think of the idea of raising a beetle as a pet?

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