Common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris)


Class: Cephalopoda
Order: Octopoda
Family:    Octopodidae
Size:    12 to 36 inches (30 to 91 cm)
Weight: Up to 55 pounds (25 kg)
Diet: Crustaceans
Distribution: Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea
Young:  100,000 to 500,000 eggs, once in a lifetime
Animal Predators:  Dolphins, sharks, eels and dog snappers
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: No special terms
Lifespan: 12 to 24 months in the wild



·       An octopus has three hearts—one systemic heart and two branchial hearts.

·       A 2000 TY beanie baby is incorrectly identified as a squid on the label—it is really an octopus.

·       The word octopus is derived from the Greek oktopous, meaning eight and foot.

·       The plural of octopus is octopodes, octopi, or octopuses.

·       Octopuses have been known to eat one of their own arms when distressed.



Octopuses are invertebrates, which means they have no backbone. Common octopuses have the ability to change colour to blend in with their environment. They have a sac of ink that they can squirt into the water, creating a murky cloud to confuse their prey and/or to escape predators. Octopuses have excellent vision, a large brain and smooth skin, although skin texture, like colour, can be altered. The undersides of their eight arms are covered with suction cups that help them move along the bottom and hold on to their prey. If octopuses lose one of their arms, they can grow another one in the same place.



Octopuses are found worldwide, usually in warm waters, at depths of 328 to 492 feet (100 to 150 m). They create a den or nest from a crevice in a rock, and cover the entrance with shells and stones to hide it from predators.


Feeding Habits

Common octopuses have a sharp beak that they use to crack open the shells of certain molluscs. They shoot poison into the shell before sucking the flesh from the crustacean and then tossing aside the empty shell. 



The male can be identified by a modified arm that he uses to take sperm from his mantle cavity and insert into the female’s mantle cavity. Two months later, the female attaches the clustered eggs to the ceiling of her den. She stays close by, cleaning and aerating the eggs. A female usually does not eat while brooding and digests her own digestive system so she is incapable of eating again. The eggs are hatched four to eight months later, and the damage to her digestive system coupled with the extreme weight loss she undergoes, leads to her death shortly afterwards. The young octopuses are extremely small and float on the surface for about a month, then sink to the bottom where they live from that point on. 



Octopuses are solitary creatures that spend most of the day in holes or rock crevices, emerging at night to feed. They are extremely intelligent animals; in captivity, they have been trained to recognize objects by touch as well as to distinguish shapes and perform simple tasks like opening a bottle.



Octopuses are not of conservation concern at this time. 



Octopus Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US