An octopus in a Cornish aquarium has become very attached to his toy Mr. Potato Head. Louis, a 6-foot long Giant Pacific Octopus, loves playing with the plastic spud, and can even find treats such as crab meat that his keepers hide within Mr. Potato Head’s secret compartments.
“He attacks the net we use to fish the toy out every time we try and take Mr Potato Head away.”
Mr Slater added that the staff had to prise the toy away from Louis on a daily basis, returning it to him for a few hours of fun each day.
The toy was given to the giant cephalodpod as part of an enrichment program. Octopi are smart, playful creatures and when cooped up in an aquarium they need stimulation.
In fact, this Discover piece on octupus intellect made us feel a pang of guilt as we were eating a tasty plate of grilled octopus tapas just the other night:
“Mischief and craft are plainly seen to be the characteristics of this creature,” the Roman natural historian Claudius Aelianus wrote at the turn of the third century A.D. Today’s divers marvel at the elaborate trails the eight-leggers follow along the seafloor, and at their irrepressible curiosity: Instead of fleeing, some octopuses examine divers the way Steve checked me out, tugging at their masks and air regulators. Researchers and aquarium attendants tell tales of octopuses that have tormented and outwitted them. Some captive octopuses lie in ambush and spit in their keepers’ faces. Others dismantle pumps and block drains, causing costly floods, or flex their arms in order to pop locked lids. Some have been caught sneaking from their tanks at night into other exhibits, gobbling up fish, then sneaking back to their tanks, damp trails along walls and floors giving them away.
With an eye scarily similar to a humans, a large, lobed brain and even the beginnings of personalities, octopi are the smartest of invertebrates, which, the article goes on to muse, is odd since they are such solitary, short-lived creatures.
Louis’s time with Mr Potato Head will be brief — at 18 months, his life is almost half finished. An octopus only lives to be three. But at least he’ll spend his short time here happy with a plastic friend, much like some humans we could name.