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Songs of a Cricket



It’s not summer until the crickets sing – Chinese Proverb


Looking to adopt a pet? Thinking of a pet dog or a cat? How about a pet Cricket? This may appear a bit strange but in fact, keeping crickets as pets is not uncommon in China.

Cricket keeping is a cultural practice that emerged from China thousands of years ago, initially being kept for their ‘song’ and later as fighting animals. This practice, which was first popular amongst Chinese royalty, quickly spread over the general population. The prospect of having crickets as pets were viewed as auspicious symbols; bringing luck and happiness to ones’ life.

From the earliest times, crickets were noticed for their incredible chirping chorus. Their chirping signified the beginning of summer and many people used to sit in parks and listen to their relaxing and charming tunes. Soon they began housing them in small decorative cages built from bamboo or wood so that they could carry them around and appreciate their ‘song’ wherever they go. The cages often had tiny porcelain dishes containing water and food for the cricket.  It was some time after this that they were used for a popular gambling sport – ‘Cricket fighting’.

The first documentation of cricket fighting comes from China’s Song Dynasty (1213-1275 C.E.). Although it is illegal these days, crickets are still prized as sporting pets in many parts of China and the cricket industry remains a lucrative business. Many shops, particularly in Beijing and Shanghai, openly sell different species of crickets on the streets, attracting potential buyers, roaming in search of their next ‘winning fighter’.

Male crickets are most popular because they are both great singers as well as ruthless fighters. Female crickets are used mainly for breeding. Before the fight, each cricket is weighed and then paired according to the colour, size and weight. The pairs are then put into a plastic box and the owners stroke their cricket with a stick to aggravate them into fighting one another. An unbeaten cricket, better known as the ‘general’, can earn winnings of 100 or even 1000 RMB.

Throughout history crickets have been praised through song and poetry. Their ability to lay hundreds of eggs correlates with the Chinese belief that the key to success is to have as many children as possible.

Looking for your good luck charm? Look no further.
Interesting facts about crickets   
+ Female crickets do not chirp
+ Number of chirps in 15 seconds + 37 = temperature in degrees Fahrenheit
+ Cricket’s lifespan is less than a year
+ Crickets have wings but most cannot fly!

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