The Bloodthirsty Sport Of Spider Fighting

By Nolan Moore on Thursday, November 7, 2013
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“There are spiders whose bite can cause the place bitten to rot and to die, sometimes more than a year after it was bitten. As to why spiders do this, the answer is simple. It’s because spiders think this is funny, and they don’t want you ever to forget them.” —Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

In A Nutshell

Spider fighting is an extremely popular blood sport in the Philippines where children capture and force spiders to fight atop a stick, often to the death. The Filipino government frowns on spider fighting as it introduces children to the world of gambling. Filipino farmers also look down on the sport as spiders protect their crops from insects.

The Whole Bushel

Spider fighting is your worst nightmare come true. This ghastly sport takes place in the Philippines and is popular among children although it has attracted a large adult audience as well. The rules are pretty simple. The arachnids are placed on a stick and shoved toward each other until they start fighting. If a spider falls off the stick three times, it loses. If a spider gets wrapped up in its opponent’s webbing, it loses. And of course, a spider match can always result in death. This is one of those situations where winning really is everything.

According to Filipino children, there’s an art to catching the right spider. Kids wake up early in the morning to hunt for future champions, and the best fighters are said to be the ones living on electric power lines. The eight-legged pugilists are kept in matchboxes, and winners can fetch up to 100 pesos ($2.40) on the spider fighting market.

However, not everyone is pleased with spider wrestling. Filipino farmers are worried about the local arachnid population, fearing a decrease in spiders will give rise to an influx of insects. Even the Filipino government is cracking down on the blood sport, not out of concern for the animals’ welfare but because spider wrestling is causing students to skip school. Evidently, kids would rather watch spiders fight than study, and they spend more time catching prizefighters than doing homework. Officials are also concerned that spider fighting will introduce kids to the world of gambling (which is illegal in the Philippines). Spiders fights are quite a draw for gamblers, and bets can get as high as 50,000 pesos (a little over $1,100). That’s a lot of cash when you’re talking about battling arachnids.

Show Me The Proof

BBC: Spider wrestlers put on hold
Spider fighting: For adults not kids?
Spider Wrestling Banned in Philippines