Beijing: A crayfish who sacrificed its own limb to survive a boiling pot of spicy soup at a restaurant in China has become an online hero.
Footage shows the crustacean gripping one of its own claws before detaching it and making a break for freedom, with others inside the pot destined for diners’ plates.
The clip was first posted on the Chinese social media site Weibo by a user named Jiuke, who said he had adopted the crayfish as a pet.
“I let him live. I already took him home and am raising him in an aquarium,” he said, after other users posted urging him to spare the animal.
China is in the grip of high demand for crayfish, with specialist restaurants proliferating across the country. The popularity of the creatures, typically covered in spicy sauce, is attributed by some to the way in which social interaction is encouraged due to diners having to put away their mobile phones and wear gloves to peel away shells.
Chinese production of crayfish more than tripled from 2007 to 850,000 tonnes last year, according to a report by the ministry of agriculture.
Crayfish, which have come to be associated in particular with the cuisine of the southern states of the US, are originally thought to have been imported into China by Japanese traders in order to feed bullfrogs in the early part of the last century.
In contrast to their contemporary popularity, they were regarded with dread by farmers whose terraced rice fields were damaged by the creatures’ digging.