• 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.

Playing with your Octopus!

Jun 3, 2007
Ok, so I'm up at 1am with my red light trying to interact with my octopus.

It seemed like we were playing 2 games.
a) He would come up near the top of the aquarium and I would put my hand in front of him as a barrier.. and he didn't back away but instead went under my finger (which was like a cm.) He'd also let me pet his mantle before he did this.

b) He would be under a rock and put an arm out of one of the holes. I would touch it, then he'd bring it back and put an arm out another hole. And we did this like 10 times :P

Fun stuff :P I hope I'm not harassing him.

I'm wondering if he knows its me when he has his arm on my finger? I'm guessing that he thinks "Hmm, this is a human. It must be the guy with no life trying to play with me"

Trying to bond with this little guy! :]
I found that Tapper (Mercatoris) preferred (while she was brooding, she did not interact much before that) taking food from my fingers vs a suspended air line. She would often reach up and touch my hand and allow me to touch the top side of her arm without jerking away. There were times when she "held my hand" long enough my arm got uncomfortable being suspended in the tank :grin:

She would play a once-a-day ET touch with my finger on the outside of the tank but would not continue with the interaction. With my hand inside the tank she continued contact much longer and would repeat the contact multiple times both with and without food. Play? Maybe but it could be that she realized there would be no food forthcoming when the fingers were outside but associated the inside contact with food even if she was not hungry.
Are you sure they want to play?!

Hello everyone! This is my first post!! I am interested in owning a pet octopus.. I have been spending the past several days reseaching online and at the lfs asking questions and reading about setting up a tank, care, etc. I know Im still months away from being prepared to care for an octopus...

So, continuing with my research, my question is... can you play will all octopus? Im sure constantly having a hand or an arm in the tank can't be all that clean and healthy for the tank... but the few times I dare stick my hand in, are chances good that my octopus will want to play? Is it safe? Do I risk being investigated by his beak? Do octopus bites hurt? Dangerous?!

Basically... what do I need to know before I blindly go sticking my hand inside an aquarium with an octopus?



Okay, nevermind!! A few more hours searching on this site and I found my answers!! TONMO.com is an AMAZING source of information. Who would have known this world of octopus love existed?!! A+
Depending on the kind of bite they land and the size of the octo it can be painless and deadly (bluering) or painless and harmless, or painful, or painful and causing the loss of a finger. In general your octo won't try to eat you, although I have heard reports of octos eating peoples pet dogs. Before you stick your hand in your tank be sure that you haven't got any lotion on your hands, or any soap, its best to rinse and scrub the hell out of your arm before you go in, don't touch anything you don't have to, don't stick your fingers in holes or any where you can't see.
Yes, it depends on the species. A dwarf like O. mercatoris will play with you very little, if at all.

There are many ways to play with a friendly octopus that don't involve sticking your hand it - you can play tug of war and cature the stick with a feeding stick. You can "walk" your fiingers along the outside of the tank, and your octopus will probably figure out how to follow.

Do not keep a blue ringed octopus because their bite can be deadly. However, none of the octopuses we commonly keep take off fingers, and Opcn, I'd like to know where you heard that story about an octopus eating a pet dog!

Many people want the experience of touching thieir octopus, but that's not necessarily playing with them in the water.

You can have an allergic reaction to an octopus bite, like a few people react to bee stings. So far no one has experienced anything like that on this site. However, you have a lot of control. Don't let your octopus come down and competley cover your hand while cleaning your tank, or you might get a nibble out of curiosity. Don't hand feed, if you want to avoid an accidental nip - use a feeding stick or, if the food is live, use long tweezers (or just drop it in the tank).

Once bitten, twice shy has a lot of discussion of octopus bites. We strongly advise against keeping blue-ringed octos, since their bites are very lethal, so they're in a completely different class. Other octopuses have venom that doesn't have much of an effect on humans, ranging from just a little nip wound to about a bee sting... there seems to be some variation about whether venom is injected or not for any bite. However, like bee stings, some people have an allergic reaction to the venom. Also, tanks water is full of bacteria and other microorganisms, some of which could be pathogens for humans-- some people argue quite sensibly that having an open wound in tank water is risky for infection, although I don't know of any severe horror stories from our tank keepers, but cleaning any wounds, including bites, that have been exposed to tank water seems sensible; I'd rinse with tap water, then use peroxide, then use neosporin, but there may be better approaches. As mentioned in the thread I linked to, very hot water is reported to break down some octopus venoms, so that might be worth a shot, too.

I have no idea what Opcn is referring to about losing fingers or octos eating dogs... I've never heard any references to either on TONMO or related to octos in any way...
GPO's would easily be able to eat a Labrador Retriever if it got into the water and if the GPO was near-to-full or full size. I guess you've never seen the Octo vs. Shark video where a GPO at some aquarium eats a Great White Shark.

I think your imagination has enhanced that video a bit. The aquarium is the one in Seattle and the sharks were rather small (3-4 foot). The video shows a GPO killing a shark but I am not clear as to whether or not it ate it as the mystery that prompted the video was the finding of dead sharks, not eaten ones.

The same video with a little different naration and possibly why dogs came up at all in the discussion (the shark is named as the dogfish shark)

National Geographic

FYI, As of my last PBS viewing of info on these animals, there has never been a Great White to be successfully kept in captivity.

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