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People in the southwestern city of Chongqing are famed for their love of spicy food - and now their pets appear to love it, too.
Images of a white rabbit munching its way through a pile of chilies have been scorching hot online since they were shared on Sina Weibo this week.
The furry internet celebrity loves eating red and green peppers, and tucks into dried chili before every meal as an appetizer, according to owner Huang Chao, 31, who bought the bunny from a street vendor at start of the year.
"It was as tiny as a man's fist, and I thought it was cute," Huang said, although once he got the animal home, he realized he had no idea what to feed it.
At first, based on tips he found on the web, Huang gave the rabbit bits of cabbage, carrot, apple and pears. Then, one day, his wife dropped half a kilogram of dried chili on the floor - and before she could clean it up, she found the rabbit happily munching away.
"We were worried it might get sick after eating such spicy things, but it was fine the next day," Huang said.
Since then, the rabbit has been addicted to chili, he said. "Whether it's dried chili or fresh green peppers, it eats them all. Now we feed it with chili at fixed times of the day."
The couple gives three to four pieces of chili to the rabbit in the morning and evening, and five or six pieces at lunchtime.
"Every time it eats chili, his appetite grows significantly," Huang said. "It used to eat three whole carrots a day, but since he started eating chili, he can easily eat two more."
Huang places a bowl of chopped chilies, as well as carrots and cabbage, in the rabbit's cage every day. "The bowl we use is similar to the sauce dishes served with hotpot," he said.
Despite an unusual taste for chili, the habit does not appear to have done the animal any harm. In fact, the once-tiny bunny has grown into a huge rabbit.
"It's weird," Huang said. "I always knew that Chongqing people loved spicy food, but I did not know a rabbit could, too."
The story has caused a stir online, with many netizens poking fun at the spice-loving pet. By early Tuesday evening, a post about the rabbit had attracted more than 1,000 comments on Sina Weibo.
"Come on. The rabbit was born in Chongqing, that's why it loves spicy food," wrote one netizen, referring to the fact Chongqing and neighboring Sichuan province are known for their spicy cuisine. "Maybe it should have hotpot sometime," another netizen added.
While most netizens were surprised, some suggested rabbits are often keen to add a bit of spice to their diet. "My rabbit stole my spicy tofu once," one netizen wrote on Sina Weibo.
Wang Xiaoyou, a researcher with the Chongqing Academy of Animal Science, told Chongqing Evening News that although it was rare for a rabbit to eat chili, it was possible that those living in rural areas occasionally eat peppers.
"Maybe the rabbit got used to chili at an early age," said Xiong Bibo, who runs a company that breeds rabbits in Chongqing.