The use of artificial crabs for testing predatory behavior and health in the octopus

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Piero Amodio
Paul Andrews
Marinella Salemme
Giovanna Ponte
Graziano Fiorito

Abstract

The willingness of the cephalopod mollusc Octopus vulgaris to attack a live crab is traditionally used as a method to assess the overall health and welfare of octopuses in the laboratory. This method requires placing a crab in the home tank of an animal, measuring the time (latency) taken for the octopus to initiate an attack and withdrawing the crab immediately prior to capture. The same crab is commonly used to assess multiple octopuses as part of daily welfare assessment. Growing concern for the welfare of crustaceans and a review of all laboratory practices for the care and welfare of cephalopods following the inclusion of this taxon in Directive 2010/63/EU prompted a study of the utility of an artificial crab to replace a live crab in the assessment of octopus health. On consecutive days O. vulgaris (N=21) were presented with a live, a dead or an artificial crab, and the latency to attack measured. Despite differences in the predatory performance towards the three different crab alternatives, octopuses readily attacked the artificial (and the dead) crab, showing that they can generalize and respond appropriately towards artificial prey. Researchers should consider using an artificial crab to replace the use of a live crab as part of the routine health assessment of O. vulgaris.

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How to Cite
Amodio, P., Andrews, P., Salemme, M., Ponte, G. and Fiorito, G. (2014) “The use of artificial crabs for testing predatory behavior and health in the octopus”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation, 31(4), pp. 494–499. doi: 10.14573/altex.1401282.
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Short Communications