Written by Andrew Joyce, Ph.D.
Octopuses can sometimes engage in self-cannibalism, eating their own arms in what is thought to be a stress reaction. What initially begins as a nervous biting of one’s own limbs, descends into frenzy, as bacteria take hold in the resultant wounds. As the infection spreads, and the stress levels increase, the octopus savages its own arms at a rate faster than it can heal, or grow new limbs. Survival in such instances is rare. There is only a terminal fate for a cephalopod in which such behavior has firmly taken hold.
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