Aquarium octopus causes havoc

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An octopus in an aquarium in Germany has been creating havoc by short-circuiting its aquarium lights, juggling its fellow inhabitants and throwing rocks at the glass.

Otto the octopus, who lives in the Sea Star Aquarium in Coburg, Germany recently baffled the staff when the electricity in the aquarium kept short-circuiting.

Staff at the aquarium could not work out what was causing it, so eventually slept on the floor overnight to try and solve the mystery. On the third night, they discovered that Otto was climbing on to the rim of his tank and squirting a jet of water at the 2000 Watt light above his tank to extinguish it.

This was a serious matter as it shorted the electricity supply to the whole aquarium, turning off filters, water pumps and putting the lives of the other animals at risk. Needless to say, the light has now been moved higher to prevent Otto reaching it.

The extent of the octopus mischief does not end there however.

Otto, who measures 75cm/30 inches long, and is noted for getting bored when the aquarium is shut for winter, has also been observed juggling the hermit crabs that cohabit his tank, throwing rocks at the glass and giving his tank a ~Changing Rooms style refit by rearranging it completely.

Director Elfriede Kummer was quoted as saying: Otto is constantly craving for attention and always comes up with new stunts so we have realised we will have to keep more careful eye on him - and also perhaps give him a few more toys to play with.

This kind of behaviour is not out of the ordinary for an octopus, Steve Matchett, the Curator at the National Marine Aquarium, commented: It is not that unusual for octopus to re-arrange their decor to suit themselves, including moving some substantial rocks around.

At the risk of sounding anthropomorphic, some octopus seem to have traits such as shy, aggressive or even cheeky. The cheeky ones seem to have fun squirting their keepers in the face at every opportunity and at times can be quite creative in how they manage to catch you out! Rocky our Giant Pacific Octopus is getting quite an expert at this.

Octopuses are capable of some powerful squirting and have been observed in wild hunting in rock pools, when they ~shoot crabs from the land back into the water to be caught and eaten.

Doug Herdson, the Information Officer at the National Marine Aquarium, added: I am not surprised that this octopus is getting up to mischief if the aquarium is closed for the winter; Octopus vulgaris do appear to willingly interact with the public. One of our regular younger visitors donated some toys to keep our Common Octopus engaged.