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Why we love octopuses

There are so many reasons we love these boneless, colour changing, shape morphing, amazing critters, we had to split it into two parts. Octopuses (yes, that’s the correct plural- check it!) are not only incredibly bizarre and fascinating physically but also intellectually. We started this two-part series with the brainy part.

They are very clever and fast learners

Octopus are considered by scientists the most intelligent of invertebrates. Some say they are intelligent as a golden retriever (strange comparison). We think they may be up there with the most intelligent creatures. Under observation, they have proved to be very quick to solve problems like working out how to retrieve food from inside a jar or getting out of a jar. They also solve and learn mazes very fast and do not repeat the same mistake twice, showing they learn from their mistakes and can remember them.

They use tools and have gardens (The Beatles were right)

In nature, octopus have been seen using tools for different uses. Coconut shells and various things to hide in for instance. they also been observed making gardens or protective walls around their dens by collecting stones and other debris. They have also been seen to use their ability to squirt water to drive scientists crazy; by aiming the water jet at light bulbs or light switches in the lab they were kept in, they created darkness and chaos!

They have personalities and are very cheeky

Octopuses do not all learn at the same speed. What is interesting is that some are more intelligent than others suggesting that they are independent learners rather than reacting on instinct. This is extremely rare in a species as most have equal levels of intelligence all around. When you’re that clever, it’s not unusual to be a little cheeky. Octopuses have their own personalities and can take a dislike to certain humans. In captivity, one octopus consistently spurted water at one of the lab assistants but none of the other scientists. The assistant eventually left the lab (not just because of the octopus’s dislike, mind) but came back some time later for a visit. The octopus had not squirted anyone in months but immediately recognised her and squirted her again!

They don’t like being locked up and are incredible escape artists

We think being free spirited is a mark of great intelligence. These smart cephalopods have been known to cause mayhem in captivity. One famous one called Inky escaped from an Aquarium in New Zealand out of a tank, down a drainpipe and into the sea. Another flooded the lab it was kept in by blocking the drainage system, dismantling the plumbing and diverting the water pipe! Another was caught on camera in Boston in the 80’s escaping from its tank into another tank to ‘steal’ /eat (rare and expensive) fish at night

They are masters of disguise

The mimic octopus can pretend to be a completely different creature to put off its predators. It can become a sole, a sea snake or a Lion fish by arranging its body in different shapes. The effect is quite bluffing and completely amazing!

The next part of this series will describe how cool and bizarre they are physically, like having brains in their arms and seeing with their skin amongst many things. Stay tuned for it!


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