Care Standards Considered for Cephalopods

Currently, there is no federal oversight of the use of invertebrates in research in the United States. In a welcome move, the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) has recently proposed guidance for the use in research of cephalopods—a group that includes octopuses, squids, and cuttlefish. Increasing evidence indicates cephalopods are intelligent and do suffer pain, and people are often captivated by anecdotes highlighting their seemingly mischievous nature and astonishing problem-solving abilities.

photo by Charlotte B
Common cuttlefish; photo by Charlotte B

This would mark the country’s first attempt to establish guidelines for the care of invertebrates in research and would better align the United States with other countries that have established minimum care standards for these animals. Issues with enforcement notwithstanding, the proposed guidance would set standards for internal oversight by Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees and enforcement by OLAW.