• Looking to buy a cephalopod? Check out Tomh's Cephs Forum, and this post in particular shares important info about our policies as it relates to responsible ceph-keeping.

Does your Octo shake hands???


Nov 24, 2002
Hey All:

Tralfaz has started showing a new behavior and I wondered if any of his siblings have done the same. When he is hungry he starts pacing across the front of the tank. I generally open the top in preparation for giving him his food. In the past, he has squirted water at me and even stuck his tentacles out of the water into the air.

Now, if I put my finger on the edge of the tank, he will wrap his tentacle around it. He doesn't squeeze or try to pull it in he just holds it for a little bit, lets go and then squirts more water at me (it feels kind of strange to say the least).

He also did something else he has nbever done before this past weekend. My girlfriend was visiting (they had never met before). She was in the room when I fed him a crayfish (she found the hand shaking thing hilarious). Usually, when I feed him, Tralfaz stays in one place until the crayfish stops struggling and then takes it into his cave to eat. This time, my girlfriend stepped up to the tank as he grabbed the crayfish. Tralfaz flashed about 20 different colors, dropped the crayfish and splatted up against the front of the tank giving her the eyeball. He then zoomed over and grabbed the crayfish (which had tried to flee), brought it back dropped it againg and splatted back on the glass. He did this two or three times before he finall took it into his cave to eat. :bugout: It was like he was trying to figure out who this strange person was and whether she was a threat.

I am going to try to get a picture of his "hand shaking" but its tough to hold the camera and get a good shot while he has ahold of me. Anyway, let me know If anyone has seen any similar behavior.


All my bimacs at one point or another have tamed to the point of casual human contact- sometimes initiated by the human, sometimes by the cephalopod. My current Bimac, Tomi Undercoral, has blown the others out of the water, so to speak. Tomi will anxiously grab not only the food I offer him, but often my hand as well- but not in a cute or affectionate way. I can feel his radula (or beak) "testing" my skin, and he wraps 4-6 arms around my hand, securing a healthy grip on me. Tomi the braces his remaining arms on the glass and tries his DAMNDEST to drag me down into his den, presumably to dispatch me and dine on me. As with most octos, he is surpisingly strong for a ball of invertebrate with the relative volume of a large grapefruit. It's like he's saying: "Hey, thanks for the shrimp, I think I'll eat your finger, too."

It is actually quite a struggle to free myself from this tenacious cephalopod- my girlfriend tickles the octo's arms while I try to prevent him from resablishing his grasp. Twice this struggle has ended up with me forcibly removing him from the glass.


I have done some uncontrolled experiments that argue strongly for the case of octopuses being able to recognize individuals. My ex wife used to tickle one octopus (a bimac) at feeding time. The octopus HATED this, and blasted her with water. I then fed the octo. It was accidental positive reinforcement that the octopus learned that blasting her with water=getting food, and thus anxiously doused her every time she opened the lid.

This set the stage for an interesting experiment: We wore similar clothes and hid our hair under identical hats and even tried changing shirts to try to fool the octopus into squirting me instead of her. The octopus always knew who was who, and unerringly drenched her in every trial.

All octopuses are different- your mileage may vary.

Rock on, Jimbo
Unfortunately Roxy is the same way. When she makes contact, there's nothing gentle about it...plain and simple. Maybe she'll eventually settle down a bit.
Hiya Jimbo,

I don't know which I find more fascinating -- your cephs' behavior, or your bizarre attraction to women who tickle Octopuses! :biggrin2:

Regarding your Octo only jetting water at your ex, in the book THE OCTOPUS AND THE ORANGUTAN (which I reviewed for TONMO a while ago) there is an anecdote about an Octopus who always jetted water at redheaded women. Obviously Octos have some mode of recognizing people, and distinguishing one from another, which we have yet to understand. I'm not a scientist, but from what I've heard Octos "taste" objects with their suckers, and perhaps the Bimac recognized the difference between your body chemistry and your ex's, even though you made an effort to resemble one another visually. (That wouldn't explain the redhead thing, though!)

Steve-O' might be able to explain a bit more about it -- try posting this to the Physiology & Biology Forum. Anyway, it certainly made for an interesting experiment -- thank you for sharing it with us.

Squidly salutations,
Tanibal Lecter.... :lol: Yes, there's nothing I like better than having old friends for dinner.

About the Octo: Who knows? Maybe its last owner forgot to feed it when I LOVE LUCY was on. The Octo obviously thought he had some 'splainin' to do....

Vitameatavegemin :arrow: :wine:
Very interesting about Tomi's behavior in grabbing you, and Roxy's too.

Add Olllie to the list. He's moved most of the live rock in the tank hanging on to me or to the feeding stick. No hand-shaking or other more gentle contact with Ollie. Sometimes I've wondered whether this could be a difference between male and female behavior, or is it just different bimac personality types.

Despite this, I'm still very fond of him!


Shop Amazon

Shop Amazon
Shop Amazon; support TONMO!
Shop Amazon
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites.