Friday Cephalopod: Some pet

Some people actually do keep octopuses as pets; it’s not easy, and it’s heartbreaking when they die. They always die.



  1. Cuttlefish says

    The only time they don’t die is when you die first, and oddly enough, people find that heartbreaking as well.

    Rescue a puppy instead.

  2. Dick the Damned says

    Any thoughts on why they have such short life expectancy, which appears to be tied in to reproductive behaviour, (females not feeding, males – ? )?

    That seems to be an evolutionary conundrum.

  3. Amphiox says

    Any thoughts on why they have such short life expectancy, which appears to be tied in to reproductive behaviour

    Well, one thing I read was that they often have a very high metabolic rate and oxygen consumption, compared to vertebrates of similar size, and perhaps that results in a faster accumulation of oxidative stress.

    But the proximate answer is that they have evolved a reproductive strategy whereby nearly all their resources are devoted to a single mating season, rather than “holding back” resources for bodily maintenance, with the inevitable consequence of bodily breakdown as a result. This can be beneficial relative to keeping those resources for bodily maintenance if natural non-aging related mortality from predation and the like is high enough that those that devote all their resources to mating once and dying end up producing more total offspring than those who conserve resources while mating, produce fewer offspring, but then are not successful in surviving to mate again anyways.

  4. Dick the Damned says

    Amphiox, thanks.

    That suggests to me that they may typically have a mating frenzy, tied in to a particular period of the year. It also suggests that they are very vulnerable, despite their intelligence, camouflage & inking strategies. They are also escape artists due to their lack of a skeleton enabling them to squeeze through small gaps. I would also have thought that, as an animal with considerable intelligence, they would learn & refine better survival techniques as they matured.

    As a phylum, or order, are they particularly vulnerable, despite the advantages that i mentioned?

  5. loopyj says

    Cephalopods don’t qualify as pets under my two point criteria:
    1) They have to enjoy being petted.
    2) They have to be able to roam free in your home. If you have to keep your ‘pet’ in a cage or -arium of some kind for nearly all of the time, then they’re really just a cared-for detainee.

  6. lpetrich says

    They can’t breathe air, so they are stuck with being underwater.

    Also, their lifecycle is a good example of semelparity — breed only once, and that’s it. Its opposite is iteroparity — breed several times over one’s life. What we can do. The closest semelparous species to our species is the Antechinus marsupial mice of Australia. The males die soon after mating as a result of a big dose of stress hormones, and the females survive only as long as it takes to have their babies, nurse them, and wean them.