Watch an Octopus Intimidate Their Own Reflection With Mixed Results

Written by Sharon Parry
Published: September 21, 2022
© Olga Visavi/
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We love videos from Octolab TV, they give us a fascinating insight into how the minds of these incredible animals work. This particular video is one of the best – and one of the funniest. We get to see what an octopus makes of their own reflection.

Why Show an Octopus Their Reflection?

Octopuses are solitary animals and usually live alone, although a few live in groups of up to 40. They are found in oceans all over the world and there are over 300 different species but spend almost half of their time hiding in their dens. They are also an ancient animal and have been in the earth’s seas for over 300 million years so that far predates mirrors!

They are also highly intelligent and have been seen doing things like using tools and moving rocks to outwit a predator. These fascinating creatures have amazing long and short term memory and outstanding problem solving skills. However, their eyesight is more limited and it is thought that they cannot see as many colors as we can.

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They have a very sensitive sense of touch and use chemoreceptors on their suckers to taste what they are touching – this is how they explore the environment around them. It would be fascinating to see what this clever and curious sea creature makes of their own reflection.

What Octopuses Think Of Mirrors

A mirror was placed in one of the observation tanks with an octopus. No one knew whether he would even notice his reflection let alone what he would make of it.

It doesn’t take too long for the octopus to notice the reflection and there is a definite reaction. He takes a step back from the mirror so that he can assess the situation which is what you would expect from an intelligent animal and is what octopuses do in the wild.

Then, he stretches himself out (to look bigger), changes color to a darker shade and changes his skin texture to rough to be more intimidating. Both are a sign of aggression.

The problem here is that the ‘mirror octopus’ is also showing aggression which triggers a fight and the octopus lunges at the mirror to actively defend his territory. Once this happens, he soon realizes that there is something very weird going on. This ‘mirror octopus’ does not feel like an octopus at all. It’s at this point that he backs away looking super confused by the whole situation!

Next up:

Grizzly, Shocked By Reflection, Shows The Mirror Who is Boss

Watch A Powerful Mountain Lion Suspiciously Interrogate Their Own Reflection

Watch a Free Diver Catch Octopuses Barehanded as They Try Every Trick to Escape

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About the Author

Sharon has a Ph.D. in Public Health but has spent the last decade researching and writing about all things connected with animal health and well being. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a very energetic Cocker Spaniel but in the past she has also been a Mom to Guinea Pigs and several cats!She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and reviewing products that make pet owners' lives a bit easier. When she isn't checking out new pet products she's trekking around the Welsh mountains and beaches with her dog - although she lets her husband and her three grown up daughters tag along sometimes if they are lucky!

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