Hamster Ball Gives Octopus a Mental Workout

Hamster Ball Gives Octopus a Mental Workout

The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco showed a video of an octopus that had to solve a puzzle in order to retrieve shrimp from a hamster ball.

It turns out that these creatures need mental stimulation – much like humans – which prevents them from becoming depressed.

Patrick Lee, a husbandry manager and biologist at the California Academy of Sciences said that octopuses are naturally curious and highly intelligent creatures. In the wild they look for food and solve problems using their inquisitive nature and intelligence.

However, in captivity they may get bored at times which is why they need a variety of exercises to keep their minds stimulated, according to Mr. Lee.

Octopuses use different tactics in the wild to hunt prey, such as hiding in tight spaces to startle their prey, or camouflaging themselves as rocks or coral. They are also able to quickly adapt their strategy depending on the situation, which proves octopuses are quite intelligent, Lee said.

People have spotted some eight-limbed octopuses using tools, or collecting coconut shells and using them for protection. Otto, an aquarium octopus in Germany was very annoyed with the two thousand watt light bulb above its tank. Being a smart octopus, Otto figured out that it could stop the whole electric circuit by squirting water on the light bulb.

Most of the octopuses’ neurons are distributed in their eight arms, rather than in their heads. Unlike humans – whose brains represent the central processing unit – the octopuses’ intelligence is more like an intricate network.

In captivity, since octopuses do not have to put much effort into finding food, they may become bored and depressed, if their minds are not properly simulated.

Trainers have to come up with various tactics to keep the octopuses entertained. For instance, Lee said that he uses many playthings, such as hamster exercise balls or dog chew toys.

In the video at the California Academy of Sciences, the octopus was given a hamster exercise ball that had shrimp inside. To retrieve the shrimp, the octopus had to figure out a way to unscrew the top of the ball, according to Lee.

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