Have you ever seen a sleeping octopus? It’s probably not the most fascinating thing you’ll see, but it is pretty strange. Most of us assume that animals sleep alone, but in the case of these octopuses, that just isn’t the case. These cephalopods have developed a unique way to keep their arms company while they slumber. Instead of using their tentacles like other octopuses do, this animal instead uses its arms to form a ‘hand’ and hold hands with another octopus as they fall asleep.
The first time we spotted this was through one of our blog commenters. She had noticed that her dog was staring intently at an octopus attached to a rock near the ocean as it floated by in an aqua blue sea. The two looked almost like they were posing for a photo together—almost (we don’t know about you, but we’re not convinced). We did some research and found out what was going on here.
This is known as aposematic coloration or warning coloration in biological terms, which is when an organism shows conspicuous colours or patterns to ward off potential predators—usually something bigger than itself such as other animals or birds that would make a meal out of it.
Luckily for us, scientists are now trying to figure out how these natural adornments work and how we can replicate them in our own lives as well as help

Octopus Handshake

One study suggests that the octopus used their arms to create a ‘hand’ by pulling the arms close together and then letting go of one arm, the other would stay connected. Once they let go, however, the tentacles would go into a spasm and this creates a grip—similar to what happens when you shake hands with someone.
In order to maintain its grip, it also uses its suckers on each arm. The octopus will then automatically keep its grip on the other as they fall asleep. This is fascinating because it means that these creatures are not only able to communicate with each other during sleep but also use their minds to fight off predators!

Why are octopuses showing off?

One of the reasons these octopuses are doing this is to make prey think twice about eating them. Being colorful, cephalopods can easily be mistaken for other, less dangerous creatures. This also helps to ward off potential predators before they have a chance to attack.
The reason these octopuses are showing off is because it is advantageous for them to do so. It’s an example of aposematic coloration and warning coloration in action. They want to make others think twice about getting too close or eating them—and that’s not something we should be afraid of!

How do octopuses show off?

There are lots of different ways octopuses use their impressive coloration to show off. Some species of octopus will change the color of their skin with specialized cells that produce a pigment called chromatophores to warn predators.
In addition to this, some species will change their skin’s texture by raising or lowering the amount of mucus that covers it. It’s like they use this extra layer to signal how tough or vulnerable they are and can be an indicator for other prey or predators about whether or not you should approach them. This is what scientists are trying to figure out with these octopuses that hold hands when they sleep.

Practical applications of octopus handshakes

The handshakes are a classic example of aposematic colouration. These octopuses don’t have eyes to see what other predators look like, but the pattern on their skin lets them know when they’re in danger and it helps them avoid being eaten. The handshakes also help these octopuses find each other, as well as let others know where they live. They can get found by other octopuses or fish, who will then share their location with the rest of their group. So, yeah—it’s pretty weird how these creatures form hands out of their arms while they sleep, but we’re glad that they do because it helps with protection against predators.

Take a break and come back to work.

Who knows? You might just find that your office is home to a few sleepy octopuses in the process. As they say, an octopus has eight arms and can sleep with one or all of them!


In this sea-filled world of ours, we are constantly surrounded by creatures. Some of them are friendly, some are not so. But which of these sea creatures would you say is the friendliest?
The friendly octopus might be hard to spot at first glance, but it’s worth looking out for. It’s got a little personality going on, and it won’t hold your hand while sleeping.

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