Viet Nam News
HCM CITY – Raising butterfly lizards is providing a good income to farmers in Ninh Thuận Province since the reptile is in high demand for its meat.
Trần Thị Nhỉnh, who raises rabbit and butterfly lizards on an area of 3,000sq.m in Ninh Phước District’s Phước Hải Commune, said she earns VNĐ70 million (US$3,000) a year by selling the lizards for meat and their babies for breeding.
The lizards grow rapidly and have a survival rate of 95 per cent when bred in pens, she said.
Nhỉnh has 5,000 of them but said they cannot meet the demand of traders.
The south-central province has vast sand dunes which are their habitat.
In the past locals used to catch the creatures in the wild, but have begun to breed them in recent years following a decline in the wild and increase in demand.
Nguyễn Càng of Phước Hải Commune’s Hòa Thủy hamlet is among many farmers who now earn more than VNĐ50 million a year from raising the lizards.
Building a 1,000sq.m pen and buying juveniles for breeding cost VNĐ50-60 million, a one-time investment, according to Càng.
Raising them is easier than raising goats or rabbits and they reproduce rapidly.
They get few diseases and do not need much tending.
Females can lay six to eight eggs per clutch, which hatches in 30 days.
The creatures eat agricultural produce like vegetables, sweet potato and tomato and mature at one year.
The pens are built with a concrete foundation and walls of bricks or nets to prevent the animals from escaping.
Farmers create small sand mounds in the pen for the reptiles to burrow caves to live. Grass or small plants are planted on the mounds to create a natural environment.
Nguyễn Hữu Lương, chairman of the Phước Hải Commune Farmers Association, said in Hòa Thủy some 50 families breed the creatures.
The hamlet, the largest butterfly lizard farming area in the province, supplies two tonnes a year, he said.
“Raising butterfly lizards has helped improve the lives of local farmers.”
Traders pay farmers a VNĐ450,000 for a kilogramme of lizards if three or four of them weigh enough to make a kilo together.
The Phước Hải Commune People’s Committee plans to create an association that will help farmers get loans, learn farming techniques and find reliable outlets for their lizards.
The creatures are sold in the province, neighbouring provinces and HCM City, where their meat is used to make some unique dishes. - VNS