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Can I touch my octopus?

Barryg

Pygmy Octopus
Registered
Joined
Feb 14, 2011
Messages
11
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?
 

DWhatley

Kraken
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Sep 4, 2006
Messages
20,947
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
Probably :biggrin2:

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.
 

Barryg

Pygmy Octopus
Registered
Joined
Feb 14, 2011
Messages
11
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.
 

Barryg

Pygmy Octopus
Registered
Joined
Feb 14, 2011
Messages
11
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




 

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