Octopuses are known for their intelligence, problem-solving skills, and their remarkable ability to change colors and textures to blend in with their surroundings. However, recent research has revealed another surprising behavior in these cephalopods – they punch fish out of spite.

Octopuses and Their Spiteful Behavior

A study conducted by researchers from the Marine Biological Laboratory, the University of Chicago, and the University of Cambridge found that octopuses sometimes punch fish that are in their vicinity. The researchers observed this type of behavior in captive octopuses during feeding time when the fish were fed first. In response, the octopuses sometimes took out their frustration by punching the fish.

The study, which was published in the journal Ecology, suggests that this behavior may be a form of spite, which the researchers defined as “an intentionally harmful act toward another individual with no benefit to the perpetrator.” In other words, the octopuses weren’t trying to help themselves by punching the fish; they were just lashing out because they were annoyed.

Octopuses aren’t the only creatures in the animal kingdom that exhibit spiteful behavior. For instance, some chimpanzees have been observed throwing rocks at humans who have angered them, even though doing so has no clear benefit for the chimpanzees. However, the octopuses’ spiny limbs make their punches particularly noteworthy.

What Motivates Octopuses to Punch Fish?

Researchers aren’t entirely sure what motivates octopuses to punch fish. One possibility is that the octopuses are simply expressing their frustration at being fed last. As one of the study’s co-authors, Eduardo Sampaio, told NPR, “The octopus is a really curious animal, and they seem to be able to learn from their surroundings. So, maybe when they see humans feeding the fish first, they think, ‘Hey, that’s unfair.'”

Another possibility is that the octopuses are trying to establish dominance over the fish in their environment. Octopuses are predators themselves and may see the fish as potential prey. By punching the fish, the octopuses may be asserting their dominance and warding off potential competition.

FAQ on Octopuses’ Spiteful Behavior

Q. Do octopuses only punch fish out of spite?

A. No, octopuses exhibit a wide range of behaviors, and punching fish out of spite is just one of many possible behaviors they may display.

Q. Do all octopuses exhibit this behavior?

A. No, not all octopuses punch fish out of spite. The behavior was observed in some captive octopuses during the study, but it’s unclear how common this behavior is in the wild.

The Fascinating World of Octopuses

Despite their ability to punch fish out of spite, octopuses are fascinating creatures with many other unique traits and behaviors. Here are a few interesting facts about these cephalopods:

1. Octopuses Can Change Their Skin Color and Texture

Octopuses are known for their incredible camouflage abilities. They can change the color and texture of their skin to blend in with their surroundings, making them nearly invisible. The octopus achieves this feat by contracting its skin muscles and changing the size and shape of tiny pigment sacs called chromatophores.

2. Octopuses Are Highly Intelligent

Octopuses have a large brain relative to their body size and are considered one of the most intelligent invertebrates. They can solve puzzles, use tools, and even mimic other animals. Some octopuses have been observed using coconut shells as makeshift shelters, for example.

3. Octopuses Have Three Hearts

Contrary to popular belief, octopuses don’t have one heart – they have three. Two of these hearts pump blood through the gills, while the third circulates blood to the rest of the body. The combination of these three hearts helps ensure that oxygenated blood gets circulated efficiently throughout the octopus’s body.

4. Octopuses Can Regenerate Lost Limbs

If an octopus loses an arm in a fight or to escape a predator, it can regenerate the lost limb. The regrowth process can take several months, but eventually, the octopus will have a fully functional new limb.

Video: Octopuses Punching Fish Like Bullies of The Sea

For a closer look at octopuses punching fish and other fascinating behaviors of these creatures, check out the following video from Inside Edition:


Octopuses are fascinating creatures with a range of remarkable abilities and behaviors. While punching fish out of spite may seem like an unusual and cruel act, it’s just one of many interesting behaviors exhibited by these creatures. As researchers continue to study and observe octopuses in their natural environments, there’s no telling what other fascinating insights and discoveries await us.

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Octopuses spite punch fish who 'don't like it': study

Octopuses Caught Punching Fish in What Could Be Pure Spite | IE

Octopuses Punch Fish Out of Spite, New Research Suggests | Inside Edition

Octopuses Punch Fish in Spite - DiAndrea Media

Octopuses Punch Fish In Spite – DiAndrea Media

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