Chinese don't feel 'sting' of paying $3,100 per ant
MORE Chinese are collecting exotic species as pets, including ants from Africa, particularly the Messor Cephalotes species from Kenya, which are priced at 14,800 yuan (S$3,100) apiece at one online shop, reported the Chinese media.
A reporter from the West China Metropolis Daily recently visited a shop in Chengdu, capital of south-western Sichuan province, following seizure by local Customs of many prohibited creatures smuggled from abroad. It found dozens of ant species being sold there.
But while each of the domestic ones goes for only one yuan, some of the alien types are priced at more than 10,000 yuan each.
"Since they are rare, they are pricey," the owner told the reporter matter-of-factly when inquired about the price gap.
Another seller admitted that selling ants is highly profitable as the cost per ant is often less than eight yuan.
Messor Cephalotes is a distinctive-looking aggressive ant species, usually red-brown in colour and found mainly in east Africa, especially Kenya.
The largest among the harvester ants, with the queen likely to grow up to 20 mm, the species feed mostly on seeds which they store in their nests.
An ant wholesaler told Beijing Youth Daily that he got his ants from overseas online shops and could make a profit of up to tens of thousands of yuan from each batch.
Dong Cheng also revealed that there is an online forum where more than 800 ant lovers share accounts of their passion.