As long as there has been the domestication of animals there have been games or sporting events featuring them.
In the modern Western world, horses and dogs are the most popular animals used in competition.
Another aspect of human civilization that dates back to time immemorial is the act of gambling.
Ancient Rome was filled with gambling games that have influenced modern games. The bringing together of animals in sport and gambling is widespread and each culture celebrates this activity in their own way.
Whether it is animal against animal or human against animal, there is no lack of imagination when it comes to coming up with an animal sport to bet on.
You might be surprised at some of these games with which you might not be familiar.
From large animals like camels to smaller beings such as spiders, there are events that bet on all sorts of animals around the globe.
Here are 3 unique ways people from around the world bet on animals:
1- Camel Wrestling
Yes, camel wrestling is a thing and is very popular in Turkey.
In this sport, two males wrestle each other. This is instigated by putting a female camel that is in heat in view of the two male camels, so they are actually fighting over her.
So, even if this event were not organized, camel wrestling occurs naturally in nature.
The origin of camel wrestling as a sport is thought to have taken place more than 2,000 years ago. This was done by Turkish tribes of that era.
In the 1920’s camel wrestling was used as a spectacle at fundraisers for the purpose of the Turkish government being able to purchase planes.
However, later in this same decade, camel wrestling came to an end for various reasons.
Now camel wrestling is a spectator sport that both the owners and spectators can make large wagers on.
The restarting of camel wrestling was actually strongly encouraged by the government as a means of celebrating Turkish culture.
These camel wrestling matches usually take place in the winter. Owning and taking care of a camel so that it can compete in a seasonal sport is not a cheap endeavor, so the only people that own these camels are considerably wealthy.
Sometimes the owners will parade their camels through town before a match and it is quite the spectacle.
Fights have even been known to break out between the owners of the camels.
These camels that are bred specifically for this sport can go for around $20,000 and more in some cases.
There are thought to be over 2,000 camels in and around Turkey that are bred specifically for the sport of camel wrestling.
This could be thought of as Turkey’s equivalent to American football, as the matches take place on Sundays.
The matches are not as long as a football game, lasting around 10 minutes. Tournaments are held after a season where the very best camel champions compete against one another.
2- Pigeon Racing
Pigeon racing was and still is a popular sport that people bet on.
They have a unique talent for finding their way home, so they were used in the military even before trains or airplanes.
Since the pigeon can be pretty silent, they are sometimes still used in modern military endeavors.
A pigeon’s ability to find its way home is natural, however the pigeon’s natural ability to do this can be exploited by their trainer/owner.
Many of these trainers keep their methods of training a secret, but a common element is that each pigeon grows up in a home created by their owner.
Over time, they begin to get familiar with this home and the surrounding area. At first, these pigeons can be taken a very short distance from their home and then set free to see if they find their way back.
As they successfully find their way back, the owner may set them free at further and further distances for training purposes.
Modern pigeon races can be anywhere from 60 to 600 miles in length.
These racing pigeons can get started with competing when they are as young as 6 months old. They also can have long careers for up to 10 years.
Sometimes there are two divisions in a league, one for young birds and one for older birds.
The tracking of each pigeon has developed over the years.
It started with paint on the pigeon and that quickly turned into a brass ring around one of the legs of the pigeon. Today, pigeons have a permanent number on one of their legs so they can be identified.
Nowadays the winning pigeon is determined by the use of GPS technology.
Breeding is an exciting aspect of pigeon racing that draws a lot of attention.
The premier spot where pigeon racing is a betting sport is in Asia.
South Africa has what is known as the Million Dollar Pigeon Race. Many different countries have their own versions of the sport.
3- Spider Fighting
I know it sounds like something straight out of a Sci-Fi movie, but spider fighting is a real sport that people bet on, particularly in the Philippines.
This game is very popular among schoolchildren and has become so popular that oftentimes children skip school so they can participate in spider fighting.
Children go out into the fields and search for a spider that looks like it will do well in a fight against another spider. The idea is not to have spiders fight to the death.
Once a winner is determined, the spiders can live to fight another day.
People in the Philippines will use anything as a means of betting on spider wrestling, but sometimes the owner of the winning spider gains ownership of the losing spider. Of course, many times the spiders do fight to the death.
However, spider fighting is not as controversial as cockfighting. That is probably because the general opinion is that everybody wants to kill spiders anyway.
A piece of bamboo leaf is used as the “ring” for the match to take place on. Each spider is placed on opposite ends of the leaf so that they appear head to head. It is not hard at this point to encourage them to fight.
This is actually a very lucrative sport for children. Champion spiders can be sold for around 100 pesos or 2 American Dollars. This seems like a small amount of money, but it is not if you are a child in the Philippines.
In Japan, they have a yearly formal spider fight known as Kumo Gassen. This particular fight has been around since the 16th century.
Kumo Gassen is actually a fighting tournament. So, there are several matches, and in the end, the two remaining spiders fight each other to determine the ultimate champion of the tournament.
In the United States, spider fighting occurs mostly in prisons.
There are always different things that humans will come up with in order to stage a gambling contest. Most online sportsbooks have you covered for all your standard betting needs.
They don’t always cover all your local spider fights most likely, however, I am sure they will provide something to catch your eye.
Gambling on whatever we can is a practice as old as modern human civilization after all. Who knows what we will end up gambling on as time goes on.
Did you enjoy learning about some of these unique animal sports that wagers are placed on? If so, let me know in the comments.