Octopuses are exciting creatures with tons of unique features. For starters, they have eight arms and a flexible body that squeezes through tiny holes and the slimmest cracks.
And jeez! Don’t get me started on their camouflage. If you think the chameleon is good at hiding, wait until you see the mimic octopus in action.
This master of disguise can impersonate about fifteen sea creatures, including the poisonous flatfish.
Their anatomy is out of this world; no other animal has a brain in its limbs. Octopuses have eight tiny brains in each of their eight arms.
If you find them as interesting as some of us do, it’s only natural to want one as a pet. But can you have an octopus as a pet? Let’s find out.
Let’s Catch up With an Octopus
An octopus is a marine invertebrate of the order Octopoda and class Cephalopoda. It is not only soft-bodied but also made of 90% muscle.
Their head and feet are merged, and they have eight long arms around their heads. Under the arms are suction cups that are responsive to touch and taste.
Unlike most animals, octopuses have three hearts: one pumps blood to other body parts while the other two move blood exclusively to the gills. Octopus blood is copper-based, which is why their blood appears bluish.
This also makes it possible to transport oxygen at low temperatures. There are over 300 species of octopuses across the globe, which vary in size, color, and what they eat. You will find these sea creatures in any ocean in the world.
They prefer spending time in crevices in rocks and dens. They are solitary and very territorial. Their common predators are sea otters, sperm whales, and seals. To escape predators, octopuses use strategies like mimicking bigger predators or intimidating animals like sea snakes.
They can also swim four times faster to escape a predator—an interesting irony because they are slow, crawling movers. They also use jet propulsion to move at 25 miles an hour when they need to make a quick attack or escape.
Octopuses feed on small fish, crabs, snails, and other sea creatures. However, newly hatched octopuses will mostly eat small foods like sea stars and larval crabs. They all have the venom of different toxicity levels and use a beak like that of a bird to inject it into other animals.
This sea creature can regenerate lost limbs, which has caught the interest of biological researchers who hope to develop regenerative treatments from octopuses. As a result, they are used in medical experiments but have recently attracted people to own them as pets.
Can You Have an Octopus as a Pet?
Any aquarium hobbyist will see an octopus as a potential pet. But can you keep one as an exotic pet?
Octopuses can make fascinating pets for experienced exotic pet enthusiasts. But as for beginners, they are far from ideal pets. These creatures have specific needs that must be met for their well-being. Otherwise, you’ll be risking their lives.
Even experienced exotic pet owners may find it difficult to house octopuses because, as I said, they need a lot of care.
Whether you can or cannot have an octopus as a pet depends on several things. For example, if you can afford to cater to it and if you have the experience to tend to the animal.
Another critical factor is the law that governs your region. Though there is no specific law regarding the ownership of octopuses as pets, there are wildlife regulations regarding wild animals that may apply to this sea creature. However, these depend on locality and region.
To help you decide whether keeping an octopus as a pet is a good or bad idea, I discuss why they may or may not be suitable pets below.
Why Octopuses May Make Great Pets
There are several reasons people find octopuses interesting as pets. Common ones include:
They are intelligent
Octopuses are probably the most intelligent animals in the world. According to Peter Godfrey-Smith, a biology professor, they are probably the closest we’ll ever get to intelligent aliens.
There is proof of octopus intelligence with tons of documented evidence across the globe. They’ve been recorded opening jars, solving problems, or demonstrating personalities.
Their attractive intelligence makes them admirable pets. They are also said to develop emotions that help them bond with humans. Imagine having a pet that understands your feelings and remembers solutions.
Sounds interesting and entertaining!
Octopuses are beautiful
If you’ve seen an octopus in an aquarium, especially one that’s camouflaged, you’ll agree that they are the most beautiful sea creatures.
Besides, their bizarre biology attracts attention. A creature with eight arms around the head, no bones, and a body attached to the head—who wouldn’t want to check it out?
Some people put these animals in aquariums for decorative purposes. The aquarium is filled with fake sea plants, rocks, and organisms to mimic the natural sea view, and this, together with an octopus crawling around, is an eye-catching view.
They live in an aquarium
Being water animals, octopuses live in aquariums throughout their lives. This is one reason they may make great pets because, unlike land pets, you’ll never have to clean their mess.
What I mean is that this sea creature can’t make a mess around the house or destroy things. They live in an enclosure, and you rarely take them out of their tank.
As such, they can be easy to deal with for those who prefer less active pets.
They are generally calm
Unlike most wild creatures, octopuses possess a calm temperament. I mean, you’ll hardly find them breaking tanks, destroying things, or causing chaos.
This makes them easy to bond with, especially since they are said to understand some human gestures. I’ve seen videos on Youtube where owners would put a hand in an aquarium, and an octopus would move towards them, hoping to be petted.
They are highly evolved, playful, and sometimes friendly. They may not be precisely like cats or dogs, but in their own way, octopuses find a way to connect with our world.
Why Keeping an Octopus as a Pet is a bad Idea
Now let’s discuss why having an octopus as a pet is a bad idea.
They are wild creatures
Everyone knows that octopuses are wild sea creatures, that is their natural habitat. Unlike our common pets, octopuses are hard to breed in captivity. As a result, those held captive are caught in the wild.
Taking them from their natural sea environment and bringing them to aquariums is not good for them and may lead to distress no matter how well you provide for their other needs.
Wild creatures should be left in the wild; otherwise, we’re risking stressing or even killing them, and in fact, keeping them captive compromises their entire attractiveness. Experts argue they might be less entertaining in captivity because the whole thing distresses them.
They need specific requirements
People assume you just need an aquarium and water to keep an octopus. But even the water is not just any kind of water. Octopuses live in the ocean and sea, where the water is salty.
To keep them, you must provide such water, or they won’t survive. As for the aquarium, it’s no ordinary tank. It should be big enough to accommodate the animal and other entertaining items.
The water should also be maintained at a favorable temperature. And as for food, they don’t eat anything like most domestic pets. You’ll have to provide the food they eat in the wild.
They can be high maintenance
Don’t assume that because they live in an aquarium, they are low-maintenance animals. Octopuses can be very expensive to maintain. As I said, they need a large aquarium, which will cost more than your ordinary tank.
They also need a clean environment, so you’ll need a protein skimmer to remove the waste. That’s not all; you need a powerhead to prevent waste from accumulating on the aquarium floor.
Another important thing is the wet-dry filter for saltwater aquariums. For entertainment, get natural ocean rocks, shells, and plants.
When it comes to food, your exotic pet is a hunter, so it must be fed live prey like crayfish or crab, which must be reared in another tank. Your local store doesn’t have octopus food, so you must go out of your way to provide it.
Most people don’t know how to care for them
Even experienced vets may lack the expertise to handle an octopus. As I said, they are wild creatures, so only the wildlife service might have the training to manage them.
Having said that, you will not have a veterinarian examine your octopus in case of health complications. You also don’t know much about them, so how will you take care of this sea creature?
They get bored in captivity
One downside to octopus intelligence is that they get bored quickly. These animals use their intelligence to navigate hardships in the sea and survive for years.
How do you keep them entertained in confinement? You might provide all the toys they need to remain active and entertained, but they will get bored over time, especially since they can remember things.
Experts say octopuses in captivity show signs of distress and sometimes self-mutilation. This proves your average water tank filled with flowers or anything found in the sea won’t do it for your exotic pet.
So, Do Octopuses Make Great Pets?
While they might seem like great pets, octopuses don’t make great pets. And not because they are aggressive, destructive, or dangerous (though some species are), but because you compromise their natural state by holding them captive, and they lose whatever attracted you to them.
What I mean is that octopuses in the wild remain interesting because they are in their natural environment, where they can express their natural state. People expect them to behave the same way in captivity, but it can never be the same.
According to experts, keeping a wild animal as a pet is never a good idea. And octopuses, being wild sea creatures, should be left in the sea, where they entertain us with their extraordinary abilities through recordings.
Keeping an octopus as a pet is never a good idea for both of you. You will have to dig deep into your pocket to keep your pet, and you may not meet its specific needs.
The animal will be distressed in captivity, so it will never be happy. Instead of putting the two of you through this, just get a regular pet that will enjoy being your companion and live happily with you.