Inside remote Thai village where geckos, leeches, and earthworms are sent to China to be eaten


A remote Thai village catches geckos, leeches, and earthworms to be sent to China to be eaten.

The exotic treats that are caught and processed inside Tan village in Nakhon Phanom province before being exported to the neighbouring country.

Footage shows how the creatures are cleaned and processed in a grinder before being sun-dried for at least a day.

The salty treats are used as snacks or ingredient to make herbal medicines that some Chinese people believe can treat a variety of diseases such as fatigue after pregnancy. The dried creatures are often boiled and drank as a tea.

While some traditional Chinese doctors burn the dried creatures to ashes to use as ingredients in pills.

Noppamas Wongsanow, 38, one of the villagers involved in the trade, said wealthy Chinese businessman arrived at their village about 30 years ago to ask about worms.

He said: ‘I was still young at that time. My parents were some of the first people to work with the Chinese man. Now, almost every family earns their money by doing this.’

Noppamas added that around 22 households in the village are now involved in the business. The trade had been passed on through different generations.

Noppamas said the original Chinese businessman initially ordered earthworms and leeches, then later asked for dried geckos.

He said the villagers are able to earn up to 100,000 Baht (3,330 USD) per month selling their catch. The average wage for the area is 12,000 Baht (400USD).

The entire village can earn up to 100 million Baht per year exporting the goods, with geckos costing up to 500 Baht (17 USD) per kilo while leeches can sell up to 2,000 Baht (67 USD) per kilo.

Noppamas said that villagers wake up at 3 a.m. to hunt the creatures so they can dry them up in the afternoon when the sun is up.

Each creature is seasonally sold – geckos are sold during the dry season, leeches during the rainy season, and earthworms are during the winter.