Animal Cognition

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 773–785 | Cite as

Variability in the “stereotyped” prey capture sequence of male cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) could relate to personality differences

  • Francesca ZorattoEmail author
  • Giulia Cordeschi
  • Giacomo Grignani
  • Roberto Bonanni
  • Enrico Alleva
  • Giuseppe Nascetti
  • Jennifer A. Mather
  • Claudio Carere
Original Paper


Studies of animal personality have shown consistent between-individual variation in behaviour in many social and non-social contexts, but hunting behaviour has been overlooked. Prey capture sequences, especially in invertebrates, are supposed to be quite invariant. In cuttlefish, the attack includes three components: attention, positioning, and seizure. The previous studies indicated some variability in these components and we quantified it under the hypothesis that it could relate to personality differences. We, therefore, analysed predation sequences of adult cuttlefish to test their association with personality traits in different contexts. Nineteen subjects were first exposed to an “alert” and a “threat” test and then given a live prey, for 10 days. Predation sequences were scored for components of the attack, locomotor and postural elements, body patterns, and number of successful tentacle ejections (i.e. seizure). PCA analysis of predatory patterns identified three dimensions accounting for 53.1%, 15.9%, and 9.6% of the variance and discriminating individuals based on “speed in catching prey”, “duration of attack behaviour”, and “attention to prey”. Predation rate, success rate, and hunting time were significantly correlated with the first, second, and third PCA factors, respectively. Significant correlations between capture patterns and responsiveness in the alert and threat tests were found, highlighting a consistency of prey capture patterns with measures of personality in other contexts. Personality may permeate even those behaviour patterns that appear relatively invariant.


Cephalopods Hunting behaviour Animal personality Behavioural consistency Welfare 



This research was partially supported by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships (H2020-MSCA-IF-2014), Project ID: 659106 (GROUPIND), to C. Carere. We wish to thank A. Giuliani and F. Chiarotti for statistical advice, N. Francia and S. Falsini for precious technical and administrative support. The work is part of the BSc thesis of G. Cordeschi. Finally, we wish to thank the authors of the original study (Carere et al. 2015).


This study was funded by H2020-MSCA-IF-2014 (GROUPIND), Grant number 659106.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals, applicable when the original study by Carere et al. (2015) was performed, were followed. Specifically, the original study complied with the regulations of the Canadian Council of Animal Care for animal research (University of Lethbridge, Animal Welfare Approval n. 1106).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PPTX 1045 KB)
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Behavioural Sciences and Mental HealthIstituto Superiore di SanitàRomeItaly
  2. 2.Ichthyogenic Experimental Marine Centre (CISMAR), Department of Ecological and Biological SciencesUniversity of TusciaTarquiniaItaly
  3. 3.Independent ResearcherRomeItaly
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada
  5. 5.Laboratory of Experimental and Comparative EthologyUniversity of Paris 13, Sorbonne Paris CitéVilletaneuseFrance

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