Our octopus is pretty clever. Octopuses need to be because they don’t have a hard shell, they don’t have any sharp venomous spikes to protect themselves and they’re pretty soft creatures who are very tasty to other sealife! If they didn’t use their brains, they’d be eaten up in no time.
Of course, our octopus doesn’t need to worry about escaping from predators; we don’t keep any in the tank with him. He doesn’t need to be feeling his way around, trying to find a quick exit or avoid being eaten.
Because octopuses are pretty intelligent we need to keep them entertained. We need to challenge them otherwise they’ll get bored. This is called enrichment and it’s a very important part of caring for animals.
We keep him stimulated by setting up little puzzles for him to solve, with food as a reward. We have a plastic screw top container where we will hide his food. As you can see from the video below he has figured out that if he unscrews it, he will get food!
We also hide food in a ‘Mr Potato Head’ toy and he will retrieve it. We like to play catch with him too, throwing him a plastic ball and sometimes there is shrimp inside for him to take. We can also build lego models with food inside, for him to take apart to collect his reward.
In the wild he’d be searching in cracks and crevices for his next meal; picking up rocks, moving them out the way, stealthily following a crab through a maze of rocks until he found the right opportunity to pounce.
Did you know that octopuses ‘smell’ with their suckers? That’s how our octopus knows there is food about. He explores his surroundings, touching and sniffing - when he gets a whiff of mackerel or crab, he will stop at nothing to figure out how to get to it!
We don’t stimulate him with simulated predator attacks. That would be unnecessary and cruel, and animals can get stressed. Stress is one of the biggest killers in marine animals.
We keep him stimulated with lots of play and food rewards to keep a bright, healthy, happy octopus for everyone to enjoy. You can come and see our octopus from 1oam-5pm every day in the Aquarium at World Museum, so why not visit this extraordinary creature?
Name our octopus!
There’s only a few weeks left to enter the ‘Name our octopus competition! Send us your name suggestions by Sunday 31 August 2014 and you could win a plush octopus toy and an animal book. Find out how to enter here.
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