How scared should I be of my GPO biting me? (Aquarium staff)

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by iamstephieee, Apr 10, 2011.

  1. iamstephieee

    iamstephieee Larval Mass Registered

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    Hi all! I currently volunteer at the National Aquarium taking care of a variety of animals, including my favorite, our Giant Pacific Octopus. He is currently 16 pounds, but the lady we had before him got all the way up to about 40 pounds. We do a ton of tactile stimulation-- letting him explore our hands, mantle rubs, hand-feeding-- for up to an hour or more each day.

    I checked out the Octopus Bites forum, but unsurprisingly, there was nothing about GPO bites. We all just pull ourselves away from him once he sucks our hands up to maybe 6" away from his mouth and so far it hasn't been an issue. I was wondering, however, how serious a bite from such a big boy could be. Could I lose a finger or a chunk of my hand? Would he find it tasty and keep on biting? Does he have any kind of chemical that could be released that would make it more painful or harder to treat? Any knowledge would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you all!
     

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  2. corw314

    corw314 Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    I would think a chunk could be a very real possibility because of the size of the animal and for me, I am very cautious about letting any of the octopuses I have enjoyed in my home, get close with their beak. I like to play and touch them when they have a food item by their beak and :welcome::smile:
     
  3. perke

    perke O. bimaculoides Registered

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    I have only worked with 1 aquarist that has been bitten by a GPO and it wasn't very serious. I think in most cases you should be ok if you're the regular aquarist for the GPO as they get used to you, in my experience the smaller the octopus the more likely to get bitten, just watch your hand going for the middle of the GPO and all should be well.
     
  4. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Norman (Cephalopods A World Guide) has a photo of a keeper's bitten arm (page 217) but I can't find it on-line. There appears two places where the skin is broken, some nasty bruising and multiple marks where the skin was scraped but not pierced. All cephs are believed to have some form of toxin but the write up I have does not mention the potency of the GPO. Jim Cosgrove would likely be the best to answer but as a good second, here is a post from someone that asked Jim about GPO bites in 2005.
     
  5. karavak

    karavak Larval Mass Registered

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    when you say National Aquarium.. are you referring to the D.C or baltimore location?

    It seems the Baltimore Oct was missing last time I went up there.. and unfortunately they are not very active when a few hundred people are streaming through..
     
  6. neurobadger

    neurobadger Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    That would be Baltimore. The one at the DC national aquarium is female.
     
  7. karavak

    karavak Larval Mass Registered

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    Hmm.. I'll have to look for that volunteer chance then :grin: I would love to be able to actually touch one of these guys.

    When it's not really busy I'll spend an extra amount of time at the GPO tank..

    I don't have a Octopus tank set-up.. yet..
     
  8. neurobadger

    neurobadger Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    You won't be able to play with the octopus at the National Aquarium in DC, I'll tell you that. I volunteered there last summer.
     
  9. skywindsurfer

    skywindsurfer Architeuthis Registered

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    I can tell you from first hand experience as I am a full time aquarist that takes care of a GPO. Given the chance my animal would bite me in an instant. He has even taken a good quarter sized chunk out of a pool sized scrub pad. I would be very careful with them because I've seen some pretty nasty photos of people being bitten, though none seriously fatal they just look extremely painful.
     
  10. skywindsurfer

    skywindsurfer Architeuthis Registered

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    I have tried this approach with my animal several times, but it never works. They still try to pull you in and bit. I've even seen him pull the food from his mouth to accommodate my hand. lol
     
  11. skywindsurfer

    skywindsurfer Architeuthis Registered

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    Not always true. I had my animal to the point where it stayed out all day on the front of the glass no matter how many guests we have. Which is saying something because a lot of people like to pound on the tank.:mad:
     
  12. Mike Bauer

    Mike Bauer Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    "a lot of people like to pound on the tank."

    Not in my house they wouldn't. They would be out the door! No one pounds on the glass very few get to touch the glass. :sagrin: My big fear is someone will toss in pocket change like my tank is a wishing well or something. So Everyone knows to stay clear of the top and keep an eye on the kids.
     
  13. skywindsurfer

    skywindsurfer Architeuthis Registered

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    I wish that were the case here. I have one exhibit in particular that everyone feels it is their duty to use it as a trash can. You wouldn't believe the things I've pulled out of it.
     
  14. Mike Bauer

    Mike Bauer Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    You are to kind! Just to keep things on track, I wouldn't let anything that can bite though a wetsuit bite me and i wouldn't do like some one diver I know and let it crawl on top of my head while diving underwater. I need tools to break though a crab's shell and arms and it doesn't. Plus blood in the water is never good anyway.
     

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