Can I touch my octopus?

Discussion in 'Behavior and Intelligence' started by Barryg, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. Barryg

    Barryg Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    I will let him grab onto my finger but he immediately starts moving up my finger and I don't know if he is trying to get out of the tank, just explore my hand, or bite the hell out of me so I quickly jerk away once het gets to the second or 3rd knuckle.

    So, do they bite?
     
  2. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    :welcome: to TONMO

    Petting and contact is fine.They do bite, but they are not prone to bitting. I make it a point to be aware of where their beak is at all times and I make sure to manipulate the octopus in such away that they cant bite, i keep my hand away from their beak.

    We have a forum for octopus bites here:
    http://www.tonmo.com/forums/showthread.php?10712-Octopus-Bites
     
  3. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    oh yeah, Tell us about your octopus and tank setup!
     
  4. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Probably :grin:

    First, we should probably establish the species as some are more prone to aggressively biting than others (but there is also an individual factor). The only species currently common to our aquariums that is not listed has having bitten someone is O.briareus and with it becoming more common each year, that record is likely to be broken anytime. Without a recorded bite, we have no suggestion of the effects of its bite within TONMO. I suspect you are not keeping an O.mercatoris as it is unlikely to be interested in attaching to your hand for long. I also assume you are not handling a blue ring.

    As with all ocean animals, there is concern about removing any kind of protective slim coating on the skin but we have no reported evidence of injury being caused by gentle handling (nor have Roy or our science students reported any skin damage resulting from lab handling but I hope someone will chime in if this is contrary to observations).

    That being said, several keepers have worked with their octopuses and reach a point of mutual touching/petting acceptance. The amount of contact varies with each octopus and keeper. If you chose to pursue contact, do it slowly and gently and without jerking. Expect it to take weeks, not hours, to gain the animals trust. You feel as odd to it as it does to you. With some experiementing you will find you can twist your fingers to touch or lighly grasp the tops of the arms when the octo is grabby. This usually will get you released but you must not panic and it is a little tricky to produce the hand manipulation but you have 5 fingers and the octo will not usually use all eight arms. I have better luck with this than Neal (spouse) so there is likely a technique involved that I don't explain well (or maybe it is just that his hands are larger or are more tasty). I also don't recommend mixing feeding with play time. I have been most successful scheduling interaction time about an hour before or an hour after feeding. It is also better to keep interaction to the front glass and not when it is holding on to the live rock or major tank disruptions are guaranteed.

    I am looking forward to reading more about your octopus and hope you will journal your adventures with TONMO.
     
  5. Barryg

    Barryg Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    OK, let me get a picture of him. I don't even know what he's called. I got him for $60 form the tank store. He is about the size of a large orange and he has like 3-5 little wart looking things on his body.

    He ranges in color from snow white to tiger stripe to totally dark red.

    He has grabbed my fingers a few times and as he starts climbing up my fingers I will get nervous and jerk away...guess that's not good...just a natural reaction for me lol.

    I'll grab some pics of him and post.

    To be honest I was considering letting him go into the ocean, I am starting to feel a bit guilty about keeping such a smart animal locked in a tank. I didn't realize they were actually fairly smart until I bought him and started reading about him.

    If my said species can survive in the gulf of mexico (southwest florida) I am definitely going to set him free and just buy some fish istead.
     
  6. Barryg

    Barryg Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    OK, so here are the pictures of him. I took them tonight after doing a water change. I put my hand in the tank next to him in one of the pictures so you could see the size.

    I also touched him more, but he starts moving up my hand so quickly I get nervous and pull away. Once he gets one arm wrapped around my finger/hand pretty good he brings the second arm over and thats when I get freaked out and pull away.

    Also, one of the times he was at the bottom of the tank and he extended just one arm all the way to the top of the water and grabbed onto my finger and we sort of did a little tug of war with my finger for like 15 seconds or so. He will pull hard and I will pull back harder then he would pull hard again and i would pull back. It was pretty cool but I dunno if he was pulling me down because he thought my finger was lunch or what lol

    [​IMG]
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  7. Barryg

    Barryg Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Oh also, guy at tank store said he thinks he is O. mercatoris
     
  8. iAlex

    iAlex Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    I almost positive it's not a merc; I'm pretty sure its a Vulgaris, but I want to hear the more experienced keeper's opinions.
     
  9. Barryg

    Barryg Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    So are Vulgaris mean?
     
  10. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    definitely a a Vulgaris. Some are mean some aren't. It comes down to the actual animal and keeper.

    who big is your tank?
     
  11. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    DO NOT RELEASE IT IN TO THE WILD!!! Give it back to the store, or find someone that wants it. You can spread foreign organisms by releasing him you could cause and ecological catastrophe. Worse case senario freeze it and donate it for scientific research, but please please please dont release him into the wild.
     
  12. Lmecher

    Lmecher Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    I would say more curiosity than anything else. I am wondering about the tank size too. Hope you have a good sealed lid, mine was always climbing out and shooting me w/his cannon. I don't understand why you'd want to get rid of it? What is the reason? Too aggressive? Are you scared of it? Yes they are very intelligent, sometimes they get a look in their eyes like they are trying to figure things out. You should give it some toys to play with. It will keep him occupied however, mine was very preoccupied with me and getting my attention. He sure is a beauty, I'd give anything to get one like that.
     
  13. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I think those lazy eyes are pretty much a give away for vulgaris. He is a real prize and a nice initial size but tank size is likely to be a concern as these are the biggest octopuses we keep. As CaptFish strongly points out, once an animal has been put into an aquarium, it should never be returned to the ocean so if you can't house it, please try to find another aquarium home. If you are willing to try to ship it, there may be keepers on TONMO with an appropriate tank available. Your LSF may be willing to take it back since an O. mercatoris is a dwarf species and at the farthest end of the tank requirement spectrum. If you decide to raise it, please journal him with us as we don't have many histories of this wonderful species.
     
  14. Lmecher

    Lmecher Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    By the look of the arm length, I'd guess he is not full grown. He looks very much like Diablo when I got him. This octopus will get very large. mantle 5-6" and arms 18'+. A very large tank is a must, at least 100 gallons or more. Mine was in a 120. I am very jealous :sagrin:
     
  15. Barryg

    Barryg Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Hm. Well, he is in a 29gal bio tank. The lid is obviously on there good, I also tape it down at night just to be safe. He has already ended up crawling around the carpet once. He also ripped my water heater bottom off and he refuses to let me clean the tank with the little magnet things, he always will come out and run off with the inside half of the cleaner.

    The reason I was thinking of getting rid of him was because unlike having fish who just swim around and are happy to be alive I feel like this thing is a little too smart to be kept locked up in a tank and should be free to swim around.

    That being said, this is the other octopus they had and this is how my octopus was being housed only my octpus's cage was much smaller than this guy: http://i.imgur.com/Z4fDI.jpg

    here is a picture of my full tank, its a square shape and 29gal, not that big I know: http://i.imgur.com/6bVj3.jpg

    how big a tank should he be in and what should I use as a toy? That orange thing you see is a little rubber ball, I was pushing it down by flicking it with my finger earlier tonight and he would reach out and grab it, gold it for a few seconds, then let go. Then I'd push it down to him again and he would grab it again. We did that about 6 or 7 times and then he got bored of it and would grab the ball anymore lol, what kind of stuff do they play with?
     
  16. Barryg

    Barryg Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    sounds like 30gal is not nearly big enough...its either 30gal or a coffee can at the fish store at this point. meh...now I feel even worse about the whole situation...
     
  17. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    What an animal is temporarily housed in at an LSF is not something you can use for comparison and the water exchange in most LFS set ups far exceeds the 29 gallon tank where he now resides. The 29 is too small and you will need to do something very, very soon. One inking event in a tank that small could be fatal, the water will pollute very quickly just from food consumption and waste production (while you are deciding what to do, daily water changes are recommended) and providing enough oxygen is not possible. This little guy will double in size in a month and needs more water volume to survive.
     
  18. Barryg

    Barryg Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    hmm

    that would explain why I had to do a water change today. They said my numbers were off the charts and I needed to do a 50% water change ASAP. I think maybe they don't know much about octopuses? I don't know but they never said the tank was too small or anything.

    So, now what? My choices are to sell him, let him go, or return him to the store I guess. Or freeze him like someone said but I def won't do that.

    meh this sucks...
     
  19. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    120 gallon is typically recommended for these. Vulgaris is the largest of the octopuses commonly kept by hobbyists. they have the potential to have a spread of over 3 feet.


    Hard to say what the other one is. it could be another Vulgaris, but it may be a Hummelincki, being that it is showing no color or distinguishing marks, I'm just guessing based on arm to mantle ration and location. .
     
  20. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    Most LFS are clueless.

    Not an option.
     

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