Researcher Captures Mesmerizing Video Of Pet Octopus Changing Color While "Dreaming"

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Heidi, a captive octopus, was seen changing color while sleeping (Credit: BBC/ Video screen capture)

Octopuses in the wild have often been observed changing their skin color and texture to avoid predators or to catch unsuspecting prey. Now, for the first time, a researcher has captured a spell-binding video of a cephalopod called Heidi rapidly changing into a multitude of colors while sleeping.

The footage, part of Octopus: Making Contact, a documentary that premiered on PBS on October 2, 2019, was captured by David Scheel, who has raised Heidi in a home aquarium since she was young. The professor at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage believes that the octopus — whose skin went from pale gray to ghostly white to deep, dark violet, before transitioning into a blotchy, greenish-brown camouflage pattern — was dreaming of catching her next meal.

Heidi the octopus at home in Alaska (Credit: Passion Planet)

"She's asleep; she sees a crab, and her color starts to change a little bit," Scheel says in the video. "Then she turns all dark. Octopuses will do that when they leave the bottom." He adds, "This is a camouflage like she's just subdued a crab, and now she's going to sit there and eat it, and she doesn't want anyone to notice her. If she's dreaming, that's the dream." Scheel's theory about Heidi's delectable dream stems from the fact animals with the ability to camouflage have never been observed changing colors so abruptly while sleeping.

The hour-long documentary, which tracks Scheel's evolving relationship with the octopus, also showcases Heidi's other talents. She enjoys playing with small toys, watching television — particularly The Big Bang Theory — and solving puzzles. The talented cephalopod can also escape from small spaces, use tools, and even pull on a string to activate a buzzer. Like any smart family pet, Heidi recognizes Scheel and his teenage daughter Laura and excitedly rushes to her tank's side in greeting every time either comes close.

Resources: Huffpost.com, Cnet.com, Popularmechanics.com

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439 Comments
  • shamblinkason
    shamblinkasonTuesday, October 15, 2019 at 4:39 pm
    Wow! So cool how the octopus changes color I wish I could do that.
    • hensleyalexandr
      hensleyalexandrTuesday, October 15, 2019 at 2:39 pm
      thats so cool
      • Octopus AlienTuesday, October 15, 2019 at 2:24 pm
        the Octopus is cool i want to change color.
        • Black BoyTuesday, October 15, 2019 at 2:18 pm
          I like how it changes colour
          • fewoliviac
            fewoliviacTuesday, October 15, 2019 at 12:50 pm
            You know what I think, I think that it is very cool 🐙
            • BiancaTuesday, October 15, 2019 at 11:22 am
              That dog article is so funny I almost LOLed.
              • EmilyTuesday, October 15, 2019 at 10:27 am
                So cute I want one for myself
                • lieutenantSamonTuesday, October 15, 2019 at 10:11 am
                  woooaah its so interesting! what would octopi even dream about????
                  • Cardi bTuesday, October 15, 2019 at 9:41 am
                    I'm at school and I love how it changes colors
                    • jeanayaTuesday, October 15, 2019 at 9:40 am
                      i love how it change colors