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Henry The Hexapus: A Unique Cephalopod

Updated on December 28, 2014

Henry the Hexapus

It's not every day an invertebrate steals the headlines on the BBC and CNN. Henry the Hexapus is a six-legged octopus rescued from a lobster pot off the coast of Wales and given a happy home in the Blackpool Sea Life Centre in northwest England.

At first staffers didn't know there was anything unusual about him, until he stuck himself to the wall and posed for this shot.

What makes him special is his legs. Sure, bugs have six legs. But octopi have eight. If they lose one, it usually grows back. You can see from this photo that he's not missing any legs; he's just got an unusual birth defect! As far as scientists know, he's the only hexapus ever discovered.

Birth defects tend to cause animals to get munched in the wild, so despite PETA accusing the aquarium of turning him into a "sideshow freak," it's probably a good thing for him that he was found.

The octopus is the most intelligent invertebrate (spineless animal). Some can change color. Others can unlatch their cages. So PETA does have a point -- you've got to give them an interesting environment to explore and play in, just the way you would a cat or other small animal, rather than dropping them in a bowl like a goldfish.

Henry the Hexapus in the News - Cephalopod Celebrity

He swept world news headlines and the web on March 3rd, 2008.

News Update on Henry the Hexapus, March 2009

I emailed the aquarium where Henry lives to inquire about his health and the typical lifespan of his eight-legged kin. I received this reply on 19th March 2009:

Hi Ellen,

Henry is indeed still with us. Our Suckers feature has moved on (replaced by Scary Monsters), but we have kept Henry.

From around October, he became a little attached to a pot (a broken Greek urn style thing) in his tank, rarely leaving it, although you could set your watch by his morning stretch and wander round his tank, before he promptly returned to his hidey hole.

He is not on display anymore. We keep him behind the scenes where he can live out his final days in peace and quiet. As a lesser octopus we would expect an absolute maximum life span of 3 years, and I would guess him to be around 2 now. He is eating less than he used to, but then, he doesn't move around as much as he used to.

His tank behind scenes is kept semi dark for him, and does of course include his Greek urn hidey hole.

He is now easily 4-5 times the size that he was when he arrived, but has not grown appreciably for the past 6 months.

I hope that gives you the info you needed. I do like your page!

Kind Regards


Carey Duckhouse

Displays Supervisor

Blackpool Sea Life Centre

Thank you very much, Dr. Duckhouse! It's good to know Henry was well taken care of.

[EDIT] I first wrote this article in 2008. Sadly, Henry is certainly deceased by now.

Quick, what do you think of Henry The Hexapus?

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IMPORTANT! Don't Flash The Octopus!

Flash photography can harm some octopuses -- even kill them! Don't take flash photography of an octopus without asking aquarium staff if it's okay.

Henry's Octopus Cousins: Some Fun Videos

Camouflage, color changes, and speed swimming -- these are spiffy critters.


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