even octopuses get christmas presents

Or should that be 'octopi'?

Anyway, I just came across this story, about an octopus that was given a Mr Potatohead toy for Chrismas – and not only plays with it for extended periods, but gets aggressive if keepers try to remove it from his tank. (Thanks, PZ!)


 Octopus & Mr Potato Head

Image from Metro.co.uk

There's actually a serious side to this – Louis (the octopus) was given the toy as enrichment: something that all good zoos & aquaria practice in order to make their animals' lives more interesting, & to stimulate more natural behaviour. If you go to our local zoo in Hamilton, for example, you may see the tigers getting meaty iceblocks (I bet Tiptop will never go there!), or keas trying to remove treats from pvc tubing. And if any invertebrate animal was going to be a Mensa member, many scientists think that it would be an octopus or a squid. They're certainly capable of complex behaviour – all the more reason for ensuring that when held in captivity, these large-brained cephalopods get as much stimulation as they would in the wild.

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