Otto the Octopus Wreaks Havoc

Very newsworthy:

A octopus has caused havoc in his aquarium by performing juggling tricks using his fellow occupants, smashing rocks against the glass and turning off the power by shortcircuiting a lamp.

Staff believe that the octopus called Otto had been annoyed by the bright light shining into his aquarium and had discovered he could extinguish it by climbing onto the rim of his tank and squirting a jet of water in its direction.

The short-circuit had baffled electricians as well as staff at the Sea Star Aquarium in Coburg, Germany, who decided to take shifts sleeping on the floor to find out what caused the mysterious blackouts.

“Once we saw him juggling the hermit crabs in his tank, another time he threw stones against the glass damaging it. And from time to time he completely re-arranges his tank to make it suit his own taste better – much to the distress of his fellow tank inhabitants.”

I don’t know why I find this endlessly entertaining, but I do.

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30 comments for “Otto the Octopus Wreaks Havoc

  1. Nolittlelolita
    November 7, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    That octopus doesn’t take any guff from anyone. Poor fishies, this must be the aquarium equivalent of having a roommate who comes in at 3am drunk and falls into your window, juggles your antiques from grandma, then throws up on the rug.

  2. Elton
    November 7, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    I for one welcome our new Octopus Overlord.

  3. William
    November 7, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Oh god…I never took any of this “environmentalism” stuff seriously. “Be careful of the Earth” they said, “human behavior has it’s effects on plants and animals” they said. But I didn’t listen, I just went about my life, blind to the dangers.

    Now trolling has spread to the animal kingdom. God help us if the cephalopods discover 4chan…

  4. Erin H.
    November 7, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Juggling hermit crabs? Surely, there must be images of this. And if so, someone needs to make a macro.

  5. November 7, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    that’s why i don’t eat squid anymore. those things are too smart.

  6. Lidon
    November 7, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    How cute! I mean it’s kinda sad, but I wish I could have seen it. I have heard Octopi (?) have rather developed brains.

  7. November 7, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    how could they have posted this story without video of the juggling?

  8. SunlessNick
    November 7, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    I always knew that octopuses were pretty intelligent, but: Otto had been annoyed by the bright light shining into his aquarium and had discovered he could extinguish it by climbing onto the rim of his tank and squirting a jet of water in its direction.

    … really impresses me; that’s a good piece of deduction there.

  9. November 7, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    that’s why i don’t eat squid anymore. those things are too smart.

    You’re absolutely right that they’re too smart, but the other part of that sentence is wrong. It is our duty to eat them, because otherwise they will take over the goddamn human race. It starts with juggling hermit crabs, and it ends with the subjugation of our whole civilization. I expect Obama to make calamari our official national dish on his first day in office.

  10. Mireille
    November 8, 2008 at 12:18 am

    If evolution leads to the cephalopodic domination of the world, who am I to argue? Perhaps they could do a better job of managing the planet than we have.

    “Get your tentacles of me, you damn, slimy octopus!”
    -Charlton Heston, “Planet of the Cephalopods”

  11. exholt
    November 8, 2008 at 12:35 am

    Otto may need to make arrangements with the zookeepers to hire himself out as a political agitator for hire. His throwing skills will certainly come in handy…..;)

    Somewhat related True story: A week before election, a Seattle-based friend’s 3 month old gray tabby chewed up his mail-in/drop-off ballot just as he was recording his vote for Obama. He had to request a spare ballot and barely got his vote in before Nov. 4. Ever since, his friends and I have been joking about how this 3 month old kitten is a keen political operative who has a great future career in vote suppression for the GOP.

  12. Torri
    November 8, 2008 at 8:35 am

    ‘that’s a good piece of deduction there.’

    Damn straight, I remember reading about a study where they were trying to get an octopus through a maze. The octopus took a look at it and found a gap he could squeese through to make a short cut.

    I also remember a doco saying that an aquarium kept having some of their crabs or some such go missing so they set up a video camera to catch who was doing it. Turns out the octopus climbed out of its tank, along the floor, into the other tank to get a snack before crawling back to it’s own tank.

    I mean it didn’t even just hang out in the other tank, no it went back to its own to avoid getting caught! They’re evil geniuses!

  13. Sailorman
    November 8, 2008 at 11:17 am

    That is SO cool. octopi are awesome; they were/are my favorite thing to find when diving.

    Word is that on the pacific coast, you can dive and meet unusually large ones, who will wrap their arms around you and check you out (in a friendly fashion) before leaving. i’ve always wanted to try it.

    Also, who do we bug for a juggling video?

  14. November 8, 2008 at 2:49 pm


    I went on a few dives last summer, and the most important piece of advice the dive leaders gave, besides the technical stuff, was “if an octopus goes on your head, do not pull it off. put your head down somewhere and it will crawl away. make sure there are no eels there first because if there is one it will eat your head.”

  15. hlynn
    November 8, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Wow. Do not want an octopus to eat my head. I kind of love them, though, and I’ve heard of the maze/crab eating story. I nerd out and tell it sometimes during conversations when people are like ‘my dog is so smart . . .’ I’m like ‘no, octopi are smart. Your dog doesn’t rearrange your appartment. It just knows how not to crap in your shoes.’

  16. harlemjd
    November 8, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    I think Rebecca meant that the eel would eat your head, whereas the octopus would just explore it.

  17. November 8, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    I’m with the others: I want video!

    I read this story too the other day and just had to laugh. One clever octopus. But rearranging the tank to suit his own needs, regardless of the other animals? Sounds like some roommates I’ve met.

  18. SophiaPriskilla
    November 8, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    This octopus should definitely be appointed to Obama’s cabinet. If there isn’t a post that would suit its skills, Obama should invent one.

  19. carol
    November 8, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    I think that this is very newsworthy and not really that funny. Human beings have captured and caged a life form for for their own amusement, despite the fact that the animal clearly feels tortured and bored. Human groups in power regularly repress, belittle and use those below them. In Otto’s case, humans are doing it to a non-human animal and you are laughing at his misery. Animal issues should be feminist issues because in the end, oppression is oppression is oppression. What do we have to gain from Otto’s imprisonment anyway?

  20. November 8, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Yeah, the eel would eat your head. It would go for the octopus, because eels eat them, but if it was still on your head then the eel would end up taking a chunk out of your head.

  21. Dungeon Keeper
    November 9, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Ia, Ia, C’thulhu, fhtagen!!!

  22. Ian
    November 9, 2008 at 12:58 am
  23. November 9, 2008 at 4:21 am

    What Carol said. Superficially funny, but when you think about it: very smart animal bored by imprisonment.

  24. MizDarwin
    November 9, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Yeah, I’m with Carol too. About the cruelest thing you can do to an animal short of physical torture is to deprive it of mental and social stimulation. Octopi are smart and Otto is clearly bored out of his non-existent skull. Give that damn octopus some intelligent company and a project to do.

  25. Flowers
    November 9, 2008 at 10:11 am

    I’m with carol too. And turn off the light in the damn aquarium! It sounds like they kept it on all the time, which is not good for animals.

  26. Au D'heau
    November 9, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    This article is not quite correct. It was gleaned from several incorrect articles that falsely claim Otto was annoyed with the light.

    A simple trip to the web site of the aquarium will establish that Otto is bored, not annoyed.

    “A number of newspaper articles suggest that we believe that Otto had been annoyed by the bright light shining into his aquarium. This is incorrect as Otto grew up in his aquarium and is hence very used to his environment. Furthermore we only use special aquarium lights which aren’t very bright and Otto’s exhibit is equipped with a dark overhang and caves. “

  27. betty brown
    November 11, 2008 at 8:11 am

    i, too, had the initial reaction that this was humorous. then it sunk in how incredibly sad this is. and even in jest i wouldn’t say it’s our duty to eat the other intelligent creatures on earth. reminded me of reading a few months ago about new research showing that donkeys aren’t ill-tempered, they’re just much more intelligent than we knew, and bored & cranky.

  28. SunlessNick
    November 11, 2008 at 10:29 am

    I do see Carol’s point there.

Comments are closed.