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My Kabuto Mushi Dream
My dream, when moving to Japan, was to keep a Japanese rhinoceros beetle, known here as “kabutomushi” (which means, “helmet bug”). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find many resources in English on how to take care of rhino beetles (also known as Hercules beetles). So, for at least my own benefit, here’s some information about rhinoceros beetle care that I’ve found from Japanese websites.
I hope this is helpful to everyone who is looking for information about keeping a rhinoceros beetle pet.
Rhinoceros Beetle Care
Rhinoceros Beetle Materials
Breeding case (Japanese: shiiku case)
A breeding case is Just a normal animal aquarium, like what’s used for hermit crabs. They are usually plastic and cube-shaped. Be sure it is a type that will keep the air inside humid.
Bug bedding (konchuu matto)
Bug bedding (konchuu matto): If not planning to breed beetles, many types of bug bedding are okay. For ease, many websites recommend store-bought beetle-specific bedding.
In addition to basic bedding, beetles also like leaves, logs, etc., all of which can be bought at the store.
Decaying branches (kuchiki) and leaves
Store-bought branches marketed toward beetle-keepers or branches from outside are okay. The branches give the beetles places to hide.
Food dishes (esazara)
Food dishes keep the beetle jelly from spilling onto the bedding.
You can buy special beetle jelly (konchuu zerii), in appetizing flavors such as black sugar, “protein,” and fruit (yum!). Apparently, bananas are also good for rhinoceros beetles. Even though it’s traditional beetle food in Japan, avoid watermelons and other water-heavy fruits.
Beetle humidifier (kirifuki)
Rhinoceros beetles are very susceptible to drying out, so this spray, or, alternatively a sort of “water bottle,” helps keep their bedding moist. Also, putting leaves in the case helps keep the soil moist.
Where to Buy Materials
Most of the above materials can be bought at home-and-garden stores, such as Cainz, or 100 yen shops.
Rhinoceros Beetle Care Instructions
Purchasing Necessary Items
In Japan, some home and garden centers sell rhinoceros beetles. I bought my beetle at a Toys’R’Us. Typically, it’s much easier to find them in stores in summer.
The normal price is from 300 yen to 2,000 yen. I’ve been told kids really enjoy catching wild beetles, but I’ve also heard the wild beetle population has been dwindling because of loss of habitat.
Preparing the Case
Fill the case 1/3 of the way with bedding that has been moistened with the humidifying liquid or plain water. Make sure the bedding is moistened to the point that it doesn’t crumble apart in your hands when you pick it up but isn’t soaked.
Beetles like to burrow during the day in this moist bedding. The web doesn’t have much information about changing the matting, but the bag recommends switching all of the matting out about once a month.
Preparing the Food
Then put in the branches and the food. To make sure that the jelly doesn’t make the bedding dirty, you can place it in a food plate.
Be sure to change the food every day, preferably in the evening, to make sure this nocturnal beetle has fresh food as he is waking up.
Water for drinking is unnecessary, as the jelly and fruits provide enough, but be sure to keep his/her soil moist — which leads to the next point.
Beetles are susceptible to dehydration. In nature, they hide under leaves and in dark places. Therefore, keep their case out of the sunlight!
To keep the bedding hydrated, you can buy a special hydrating bottle (available at 100 yen shops, home and garden centers, etc.) and just stick it in the bedding as shown on the bottle.
If you want to re-moisten the soil and/or aren’t using a humidifier, be sure to dampen various places but not pour water directly on the beetle.
Also, to keep the case hydrated, one website advises putting vinyl over the case and poking holes in the vinyl to let some air in. Leaves in the case also help keep the soil from drying out.
How Many Beetles
Most websites recommend not keeping more than one beetle together, as fights or babies might break out. Also, too much humidity or leaving food for too long will invite unwanted bugs and mites.
This is quite important, and a lesson learned through experience: Rhinoceros beetles naturally have a small number of mites on them. For this reason, many people keep the beetles outside.
If you keep the beetle inside, make sure to take measures to prevent these mites from multiplying.
One method is a charcoal mixture put into with the matting. Stores sell this and other “dani” (the Japanese term for mites) prevention products near other kabuto mushi products.
Some brave souls go as far as to pick the mites off the beetle gently with a toothpick. Many websites are conflicted on whether or not the mites will hurt the beetle, but they are yucky none-the-less, and some may bite humans.
Last step: enjoy your new friend!
Rhinoceros Beetle Trivial
Do Rhinoceros Beetles Bite?
Rhinoceros beetles don’t sting or bite! Also, they won’t stab you with their horn. Still, they are very strong and their legs are quite prickly.
Do Rhinoceros Beetles Fly?
Rhinoceros beetles CAN fly!
Keeping in mind that they can fly, but that they are pretty much harmless (unless their prickly legs deter you), rhinoceros beetles can be picked up. Since they are shy, though, it’s best not to do this too much, as it will stress them out.
Do Rhinoceros Beetles Make Noise?
These beetles don’t make much noise, except for the sounds of scurrying and an unexpectedly loud buzzing sound when they flap their wings.
What is Rhinoceros Beetle Lifespan?
I didn’t find much on beetle lifespans, but many places indicate a lifespan of less than a year, including the pre-beetle stage.
Rhinoceros Beetle Breeding
Breeding beetles requires a little bit different care and is more involved, so this information is only regarding how to keep a healthy celibate beetle.
Rhinoceros Beetle vs. Hercules Beetle
Rhinoceros beetles are also called Hercules beetles because they are really strong! In Japanese, their name is “kabuto mushi.” “Kabuto” means “helmet,” usually referring to the samurai armor helmet. “Mushi” means “bug.”
If you can’t purchase a beetle in the near future, consider these substitutes!
The below products are Amazon Affiliate links. This means I receive a portion of sales from those links. However, don’t worry — it does not affect the price you pay for the product.
Keep in mind that I am not a beetle expert. The information provided here was compiled and translated from the Japanese sources listed below.
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