Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rat meat on the menu at the Vietnam border




Rat meat on the menu at the Vietnam border

Rat meat on the menu at the Vietnam border

120912_17

Chea Sophorn gets up early every day to get to the market in Tunlab village, Kandal province in case his new favourite food — rat — runs out.

Eating rat is a common phenomenon over the border in Vietnam, but increasing numbers of Cambodians in nearby villages are adopting rodent cuisine with relish.

“Nowadays, I and my family members eat this food,” Sophorn, 34, says.

“I think it is a favourite food for people here [on the border between the two countries]. Most people like to eat rats.”

As many as three tonnes of rats are caught every day in Cambodia and exported to Vietnam to feed a growing demand there, where it is considered an affordable delicacy and eaten as a daily meal.

As a result of the increasing trade, Cambodians in neighbouring provinces such as Prey Vang, Svang Reang, Kandal and Takeo have developed a taste for the meat.

Rats are caught in fields in Kampong Cham and Kampong Thom provinces and taken to the border to be sold in Vietnam. Most are sold live to be grilled, roasted or turned into meat pâté; others end up as food for crocodiles or fish.

But there is a growing demand for the meat in Cambodia, where the rodents are cheaper. A kilo of live rats costs US$2 in markets in Cambodia, whereas over the border it sells for US$5.

Rainy season is the prime time for eating rat. During the rains, wild rats run in lush fields and eat a grass-based diet that villagers say produces a more healthy, tasty meat.

Many villagers avoid the meat in the dry season, fearing sickly rats will pass on disease.

“The rats we eat are from the wild, not rats kept as pets at home. They come from nature,” Sophorn says.

“You have to get to the market early, because the sellers bring only limited orders from buyers in each village,” he adds.

Chan Vanthorng has been selling rats to eat for nearly 10 years. He gets live rodents from Kampong Thom and exports at least 200 kilograms daily to Vietnam.

Vanthorng is one dozens of sellers who work at the border, each carrying at least 150 kilos on a moto and exporting two or three tonnes of rats a day.

But that’s not enough to feed demand, he says.

“The Vietnamese market needs more rats, and the dead rats are needed to feed fish or crocodiles.”

Men Sophal, a taxi driver in Neak Leoung who ferries people to the border, said that he sees 20 motos there each day, each carrying a cage of 150 kilos to 200 kilos of live rats.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sou Vuthy at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped