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

  • ‘Kingdom lacks up to 400MW in available electricity’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the general public, hoteliers and businesspeople with generators to use them as back-up as the Electricity Authority of Cambodia cannot generate enough electricity to meet needs due to low water levels in power station reservoirs. On Saturday evening

  • Sor Chandeth defends his criticism of Hun Sen

    Former senator Sor Chandeth has defended his choice of words when criticising Hun Sen, saying he was merely speaking metaphorically to attack the Prime Minister’s political life, not his actual person, as the latter seeks damages. [img] Chandeth spoke to The Post on Thursday,

  • South Korea’s Moon arrives in Kingdom for state visit

    South Korean president Moon Jae-in and his wife arrived in Phnom Penh on Thursday at the start of a three-day state visit to Cambodia to strengthen ties and further the friendship between the two countries. After arriving at the Phnom Penh International Airport in the

  • Youths band together to clean ‘filthy’ Boeung Trabek canal

    Inspired by their affection for the environment, a desire to have a clean and beautiful city, and wanting to send a message to people to stop littering, a group of some two dozen volunteer youths have taken to picking up trash day and night from