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Aggressive Octopus


Pygmy Octopus
Nov 14, 2005
I have had an O.briareus for about six months now and lately it has become pretty aggressive. The other day I put my hand in the tank, close to it's cave, to clean the side and it came shooting out and grabbed it. It took me about a minute to get it off of my hand. I also usually hand feed it shrimp but lately in seems more interested in going after my hand than it does the food or it grabs both and doesnt let go of either. I have stopped hand feeding it, but I still have to put my hand in to clean the tank. Thankfully, I have not been bit. When it does grab me it usually also hangs on to one of the rocks so I can eventually pull away. If the octopus is out, it will come after my arm no matter were it is in the tank. I was wondering if anyone else has had similar experiences and if this normal for the species. I can't tell if it is just playing or if it is actually trying to bite I and dont really want to find out the hard way.
I suspect it wants to play. If it wanted to bite you, I'd think it would have done that already. Also some octos love a tug of war game. You might try using a feeding stick and see what happens. My bimac "captured" the feeding stick and wouldn't let go.

I've had bimacs try to grab me. I do not know if it is trying to "play" or being aggresive I never gave it enough time to bite me. It could be aggresion because you are near its den and its trying to protect itself. Or, as they said it is just curious about you.
why noty just stick you hand in, keep it steady and just let your octo crawl aroiund on it.. plus you will geta free arm massage :jester:
remeber no copper!

If you let your octopus crawl around on your hand, you put it in a good position to bite you. It may or may not. It's curious about you and that's one way to find out about you. Also, sometimes it just rubs its beak on your skin.

You can play with your octo, even using your hand, without letting it crawl around on you, if your goal is to avoid being bitten.

It sounds like it is being more playful to me... I agree I think it would have bitten you already if it was self defense... Honestly I think its a good thing, you have a good octo there , some octos never come out of their den lol, yours wants to crawl up your arm and say hello
Mine is the same species and does the same thing
sometimes even coming out of the water to grab me
Its fine Learn2Cephkeep :smile:
was trying to feed ole meatwad the other day and he basicly encased my hand (hes gotten pretty spoolily big ) and hes STRONG beyond expectation
This isnt a fish hes an advanced predator so i give him frozen shrimp when i play with him. that way his beak is occupied while we play just in case.
Mine will ambush me. Layupside down on the reverse side of the waters surface tension and wait for me to open the lid then ALL kinds of hell breaks loose. Even scared the cat a couple of times.
its good just give him the shrimp and let him mess with you and it at the same time.
I have a Briareus, and a Filosus, together in the same tank. The Briareus and I play tug of war all the time, at first it was weird having a slimy arm wrap around my hand and fingers, (which the first time was accidental from hand feeding him) but now if Einstein didn't grab my hand I would think something was wrong. Last time a was feeding him a shrimp he took it threw it in his den and left it there so he could come play. If I could take him out of the tank and snuggle with him I would I love my Octopuses.
Welcome to TONMO.com, skydivemcbane! :welcome:
If you would give me the name of your other octo (I already have Einstein's), I could add them both to the List of Our Octopuses.
Oh,yes - when did you get them?

It's unusual for two octos to live together in the same tank peacefully. At least you have two different species. How big is the tank?

Lots of people secretly want to take their octopuses out of the tank and snuggle with them! Too bad we can't.

And mizu, that't the first time I've heard someone else mention their octo floating upside down at the surface. My bimac Ollie used to do that when she hunted shore shrimp.

Most likely what you are experiencing with your octopus is not play. The animal is simply generalizing the delivery of food to the food itself. As soon as the hand appears, it grabs it expecting food. Not receiving the expected stimuli, the octopus may not bite, but it will certainly try to find the food it expects, and the important point is that it MAY bite. Octopus bites, or anything that exposes skin wounds to aquarium water, are subject to infections - some that are very difficult to treat. I would strongly recommend avoiding such interactions.

I know that many people like to think that their octopus is "playing" with them. Frankly, I have yet to be convinced of this whether the animal grabs your finger to engage in a "tug of war" or squirts water in your face when you look in the top of the tank. All of these behaviors in their typical context can be explained as feeding, exploratory or defensive behaviours without resorting to the anthropomorphism of "play".

well what's the worst that could happen if it does bite you? aside from knowing that the blue-ring octo is dangerous, my knowledge on octopus bites is very small. i've always wanted to ask what could happen if GPO bit you.
To my knowledge, all octopuses produce some type of "venom" used to subdue prey. In the case of blue-rings and O. motuti, these could be lethal to humans. Others probably are not although they vary in potency from species to species, with the size of the animal, and with the efficiency of the delivery. Most bites I have received caused little more than some blood loss followed by a mild local inflamation, but one bite by an O. rubescens was a bit nastier. Another factor to consider aside from the risk of infection that I raised earlier is the possibility of an allergic reaction. The bite of an octopus will probably introduce foreign proteins (venom / saliva) into your system. It can be difficult to predict how your body will handle this, but an allergic reaction is possible.

I understand that Steve died from a sting ray. I still swim with giant sting rays, and sharks all the time. Statistically, I would argue that you are in much greater danger driving in a car to school than playing with your octopus.

I cannot explain my octopus’s behavior without being anthropomorphic. I study the behavior of cephalopods, and can draw conclusions based on observation of their behavior, and physiological research I’ve done on the certain species; however just like one would say they were playing with their cat or dog, I say I am playing with my octopus. Both are incorrect and both are anthropomorphic. But what fun is a pet if you can't attribute human feelings and emotions to its behavior?

Octopus seem to play with other things, they seem to need toys and/or other diversions to keep them from being bored, so I think it's fairly reasonable to assume that they "play". If they are in the wild, and must hunt to survive, it would be reasonable to assume that behaviour was part of the hunting process, but since they are getting fed on a regular basis, and seem to recognize where their food is coming from, then it doesn't seem unreasonable to assume that they are looking for stimulation of some kind.

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