TIL that octopuses are so smart that they’re given puzzles so they won’t get bored in captivity

TIL that octopuses are so smart that they’re given puzzles so they won’t get bored in captivity″>View Source

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  1. rarestmicrobe

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    >They use tools; they can extemporize brilliantly when trying to hide; and a recent paper even suggests that they engage in warfare.

    TIL Octopuses can be warlords

  2. IphtashuFitz

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    I don’t know if it’s still there, but a number of years ago when my wife and I visited the New England Aquarium they had an octopus named Truman in one of the exhibits. They routinely used enrichment games to feed him, one of which was to put a crab or some other food inside a clear plexiglass box that had holes drilled in it (about the size of a quarter or so, to let the water flow through it easily) and one or two latches that the octopus could manipulate to open it.

    Truman was quite an intelligent octopus and had no problem opening this box up, so the folks at the aquarium decided to make it a little more challenging. They started putting the box inside a larger box that was similarly equipped with holes & latches. They figured it would take Truman a while longer to open the first box, remove the second one, and open that one.

    Truman, however, was having none of that. Instead of opening up the first box he actually squeezed his entire body through one of the holes, basically pinning him in the space between the two boxes. He was like that for quite some time before he eventually realized he couldn’t open up the inner box and get at the crabs, so he finally climbed back out of the box.

    There’s a snarky writeup and a few photographs of Truman and the box [here](

  3. 4x49ers

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    I’m no animal rights activist, but if something needs sudoko to fight off being bored, maybe it shouldn’t be in captivity?

  4. Maggie_A

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    They are amazing animals if you consider they’re about the size of a grain of rice when they’re born, get no parental instruction, have to learn everything themselves and grow into such intelligent creatures while having very short lifespans (the longest lived only live 3 to 5 years).

    And if you want to read more about them, I highly recommend “The Soul of the Octopus”

  5. Matilda__Wormwood

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    This reminds me of [Paul the Octopus]( He would be presented with 2 boxes of food, each with a World Cup team flap on it and “predicted” the winning team according to whichever box he selected. Of course, he wasn’t actually psychic – but it was interesting to read about why he made the choices he did. For example, octopi can distinguish patterns so perhaps he was drawn to certain kinds of stripes (ex. horizontal over vertical) or symbols on the flag. Or maybe he could detect even the slightest difference in smells between them. RIP Paul! Octopi are so cool.

  6. A_BleepBlob

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    I’m a Behavioural Ecologist who just collected data for my study on octopuses. We’d read so much about their knack for problem-solving that my friend and I designed little tests to try and understand whether individual octopus personality could be assessed in the wild. 200 dives and 5 months later, I can safely say that not one of the octopuses gave two fucks about our tests. We weren’t expecting them to respond like the captive individuals, but we were hoping they’d exhibit *some* curiosity at the very least.


    Researchers: let us break our heads over designing tests for octopus personality.

    Octopuses: nopitty nope

  7. tsleb

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Octopus is the only meat that I feel uncomfortable with how delicious it is.

  8. senorglory

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    We eat a lt of octopus in Hawaii. I’m thinking I shouldn’t eat octopus anymore.

  9. Lizardrevenge

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    For anyone interested in octopi and intelligence I *strongly* recommend *Other Minds* by Peter Godfrey-Smith. It’s on audible as an audiobook, ot just buy a copy online. It’s seriously fascinating, and fairly concise.


  10. Iamnotburgerking

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Actually most vertebrates in captivity should be provided enrichment for this reason.

    So far, mostly mammals and birds are widely given enrichment, but reptiles and fish aren’t actually any less intelligent and they also have benefitted when exposed to enrichment.

    And this isn’t a wild animal thing.

    Domestic dogs also get bored to the point of mental illness. So if you have a dog….give him/her enrichment

  11. mr_taint

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    My respect for octopuses has never waned since I saw the video of one crawling out of it’s tank, across a lab floor, into a tank of crabs, and back over to it’s own tank to enjoy the snack. Fuckin’ terrifying critters.

  12. sailorjasm

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    there are plenty of animals that get bored

  13. Infoxicant

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm


  14. SternLecture

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    If being bored is a sign of intelligence I am Leonardo.

  15. Fr33Paco

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    I’m going to go on youtube now and see if I can find Octupii(?) doing cool shit. Like that post from yesterday where one slid through a hole that was no larger than its beak.

  16. BigHank819

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    > octopuses are so intelligent that caring for them means keeping their brains as busy as their bodies.

    So are lots of other animals. The thought of an animal being so much smarter than we realize and growing depressed in captivity really saddens me.

  17. PistolsAtDawnSir

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    “Hello? Helloooo? I solved the puzzle you gave me. Can I go home now? Hello…??”

  18. Queerious_Orca

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Are squid just as intelligent? To me they seem similar but I honestly know nothing about either a in besides octopi being wicked smart

  19. umbrazno

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm


  20. showmethestudy

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Sounds like it’s unethical to keep them in captivity then if they’re getting bored in a glass box.

  21. wutangclanthug9mm

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Welcome to the club, pal

  22. NotADeadHorse

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Is it not supposed to be octopodes?

  23. charroser

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    My local aquarium is used by university students studying marine biology. For a while the crayfish were going missing and it was thought the hungry poor students were taking them. They discovered the octopus was leaving it’s tank in the night, taking the crayfish, and going back to it’s tank.

  24. kalebt123

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm


  25. OddlySaneConsidering

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Every captive animal needs enrichment.

  26. Major017

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Or stop keeping them in captivity.

  27. CoolStoryBro_Fairy

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    They should do that with humans

  28. Anonymous

    July 18, 2017 at 10:36 pm

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