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Beetle Mania: Japanese Turn Insects Into Fierce Competitors

Aired June 20, 2000 - 2:54 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The Beatles invaded America more than a generation ago, and Rock and Roll was never the same.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Now the beetles have invaded Japan -- not those Beatles -- and wrestling may never be the same.

Here's CNN's Matt Walsh.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATT WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In many places, the sight of creatures like these will send people running for bug spray. But in Japan, these little guys are pets, and even fierce athletic competitors.

This is beetle wrestling.

Beetle collecting hobbyists gather to pit the bugs against each other in a battle of strength. The match continues until one beetle falls off the log or turns and runs away.

Contests like this are one way collectors enjoy their insects, but people have been collecting beetles for years in Japan and admire them for a variety of reasons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The shape, the black color, how it shines and the smart appearance of the beetle is what I like best.

WALSH: The large beetles used in wrestling matches mostly come from Indonesia, Cambodia and India. Shops specializing in exotic bugs from all over the world cater to the enthusiastic collector.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): People like to revisit their childhood by raising them. Beside, they don't need much attention and rearing them is good for relieving stress. Damage to the environment is making it harder to find these insects outside, and that may also be a reason why people like to keep them.

WALSH: The hobby is widely popular in Japan and can become rather expensive. In addition to specialty shops, private breeders sell live beetles and their eggs over the Internet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There are some people who raise these insects as an investment. For example, if someone buys a stag beetle for 200,000 yen, and if that beetle lays 100 eggs and they all hatch and they are sold for 10,000 yen each, that would mean the person would be able to earn 1,000,000 in a month or two. That is probably one of the factors driving up the prices of the beetles.

WALSH: Whether for fun or profit, beetle-keeping is winning new fans in Japan all the time. And it's easier to stay hooked when your prize specimen wins the honor of "Best Bug."

Matt Walsh, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: That's a big trophy for "Best Bug," Lou.

WATERS: The human imagination: What would you do without it?

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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