02 November 2008

Hermit crab juggling and other things bored octopuses do

An octopus has caused havoc in his aquarium by performing juggling tricks using his fellow occupants, smashing rocks against the glass and turning off the power by shortcircuiting a lamp. Earlier this year, there were articles about an octopus who grew attached to its Mr Potato Head toy.

It's evidently important to keep these intelligent animals amused when they are in captivity. There's even an article about Evaluating Toys for Octopuses on The Cephalopod Page that did a study of which toy is most amusing to an octopus. They compared these three toys:Perhaps the best thing is to leave octopuses in the wild?

Otto the octopus wreaks havoc
The Telegraph 31 Oct 08;
Staff believe that the octopus called Otto had been annoyed by the bright light shining into his aquarium and had discovered he could extinguish it by climbing onto the rim of his tank and squirting a jet of water in its direction.

The short-circuit had baffled electricians as well as staff at the Sea Star Aquarium in Coburg, Germany, who decided to take shifts sleeping on the floor to find out what caused the mysterious blackouts.

A spokesman said: "It was a serious matter because it shorted the electricity supply to the whole aquarium that threatened the lives of the other animals when water pumps ceased to work.

"It was on the third night that we found out that the octopus Otto was responsible for the chaos.

"We knew that he was bored as the aquarium is closed for winter, and at two feet, seven inches Otto had discovered he was big enough to swing onto the edge of his tank and shoot out a the 2000 Watt spot light above him with a carefully directed jet of water."

Director Elfriede Kummer who witnessed the act said: "We've put the light a bit higher now so he shouldn't be able to reach it. But Otto is constantly craving for attention and always comes up with new stunts so we have realised we will have to keep more careful eye on him - and also perhaps give him a few more toys to play with.

"Once we saw him juggling the hermit crabs in his tank, another time he threw stones against the glass damaging it. And from time to time he completely re-arranges his tank to make it suit his own taste better - much to the distress of his fellow tank inhabitants."
Mr Potato Head makes octopus pal
BBC News 10 Jan 08;
A giant Pacific octopus living in a Cornish aquarium has formed an unlikely bond with a child's plastic toy.

Louis regularly plays with the Mr Potato Head figure which was given to him as part of an enrichment project at Newquay's Blue Reef Aquarium.

"We wanted an octopus-friendly toy which had a compartment to hide food in," said the aquarium's Matt Slater.

He says Louis gets very excited when sees the toy, which he plays with for an hour at a time.

"Its bright colours, strange shape and moveable parts make it fascinating for Louis," said Mr Slater.

"The secret space within Mr Potato Head allows us to hide tasty treats like fresh crab inside and that perhaps more than anything has resulted in him becoming such a hit."

In the past, keepers have used everything from perspex boxes to rubber toys and even fishing floats to keep Louis, who came from Vancouver about nine months ago, mentally active.

The giant Pacific octopus is the world's largest species of octopus and are found from Japan to Southern California.

The biggest recorded specimen had a span of 10m (33ft) and weighed 270kgs (600lbs).

Louis, who is 18 months old, stretches about 1.5m from tip to tip.

As well as being the largest, the giant Pacifics are also among the cleverest members of the cephalopod family.

"Louis is well known for his curiosity and intelligence," said Mr Slater.

"We've devised a series of puzzles, games and toys to ensure he's getting the mental stimulation he needs, but Mr Potato Head is definitely his favourite at the moment."

1 comment:

  1. That sounds cute that the octopuses are playing with Mr. Potato Heads! Maybe it isn't so cute that Otto is damaging his aquarium home's electrical system, though. But these octopuses sound so human-like. I think I want one for a pet, but not a Giant Pacific. Giant Pacifics could get away. But octopuses don't talk back or anything, and they are probably smart enough to be stimulating to play with. I wish I had a nice octopus of my own.

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