Common Octopus Facts

Common Octopus Facts For Kids & Students: Pictures, Information & Video

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Common Octopus Facts At A Glance

  • Scientific name: Octopus vulgaris
  • Type of Animal: Mollusk
  • Animal Family: Octopodidae
  • Where Found: North Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea
  • Mantle Length: 25cm (10 in.)
  • Arm Length: 100 cm (39.5 in.)
  • Conservation Status: Unassessed by the IUCN, not currently threatened
  • Other interesting Common Octopus facts: One of the most intelligent invertebrates

Common Octopus Video

Watch the video below to see the Common Octopus’s incredible color-changing ability:

Meet The Common Octopus: Introduction

The common octopus is one of the best-known of all octopuses, and is found in marine environments in many parts of the world.

The common octopus is a mollusk (spelt mollusc in British English). Mollusks are members of Mollusca, a group of invertebrates (animals without backbones) that also includes snails and slugs.

The common octopus is a member of the class Cephalopoda. All cephalopods live in the sea, have tentacles, and have the ability to squirt ink when threatened. Other cephalopods include squid and cuttlefish.

Cuttlefish Cephalopod

The cuttlefish is another cephalopod.

The common octopus is known for its intelligence, and has demonstrated puzzle-solving abilities. We’ll find out just how brainy the common octopus is further down the page!

Common Octopus Facts

Common Octopus

Common Octopus

Like all octopuses, the common octopus has a large head section and eight long arms, which are joined at the base by flexible skin.

Two rows of circular suckers run along the bottom of each of the octopus’s arms. There can be as many as 250 suckers on each arm. Each sucker is packed with nerve cells, sensitive to both touch and taste.

The octopus has neither an internal skeleton nor an external shell. The octopus’s body is soft and supple, allowing it to squeeze through surprisingly narrow gaps.

The rounded ‘head’ of an octopus is actually a body part known as a ‘mantle’, which all mollusks have. The octopus’s mantle is joined to its head. It contains most of the octopus’s major organs, including its hearts and gills. (Yes, I did say hearts!)

A common octopus has not one, but three hearts. Two of these pump blood through the gills. The other supplies blood to the rest of the body.

The common octopus’s brain and eyes are located in its head. The octopus has a hard, sharp beak, which is used to break open the shells of its prey.

Common Octopus Size

The common octopus’s mantle is around 25 cm (10 in.) in length. Its arms grow to around 1 m (3.3 ft.) long.

Common Octopus Defense Mechanisms

Common Octopus Outstretched

The common octopus’s usual means of defense is simply to stay hidden in a rocky lair. This is how it spends much of its time.

However, if it is threatened, the common octopus has a number of defense mechanisms up its eight sleeves.

Like all cephalopods, the common octopus has the ability to shoot out a cloud of ink, which is stored in an internal ink sac. The ink masks the octopus’s escape, and may even prevent a scent-based predator from smelling the octopus.

Although the octopus prefers to get around by crawling along the sea bed, if threatened it can make a quick getaway by using its very own jet engine. The octopus contracts muscles within its mantle, producing a jet of water from a special funnel. This propels the octopus through the sea.

Perhaps the most incredible of all of the octopus’s defenses is its ability to change color. The common octopus can change color incredibly quickly, matching its surroundings in order to evade detection.

The incredible video below shows an octopus (not a common octopus) changing color as it hunts:

Where Does The Common Octopus Live?

The common octopus is found near the coast in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate waters. It is found in the North and South Atlantic Oceans and also in the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas. Its range extends northwards to the coast of Southern England, and southwards to the sea around South Africa.

Common Octopus Habitat

The common octopus prefers rocky sea beds where plenty of shelter can be found. It lives in shallow coastal waters that are usually no deeper than 200 m (656 ft.)

Common Octopus Diet

The common octopus’s diet consists of crustaceans such as shrimp, crayfish and crabs, mollusks such as bivalves and snails, and small fish.

The octopus hunts at dusk, using its incredible color-changing ability to remain concealed. The octopus pounces on its prey, covering the victim with its webbed tentacles to prevent its escape.

The victim is then immobilized by the octopus’s poisonous saliva. The octopus uses its sharp beak to break into the shells of mollusks and crustaceans.

Common Octopus Behavior

The common octopus lives alone, only seeking company in order to mate. When mating, the male transfers sperm directly into the female’s mantle with a modified arm. The male dies soon after mating.

Females lay between 100,000 and 500,000 eggs in empty shells and other suitable cavities on the sea bed. The female guards the eggs and doesn’t feed during the 1-2 months it takes for them to hatch. Soon after the last eggs have hatched, the female too dies.

The life span of a common octopus is between 1 and 2 years.

Common Octopus Intelligence

Octopuses are famed for their intelligence, and are possibly the most intelligent of all invertebrates.

Experiments have found that the common octopus is able to distinguish the brightness, shape and size of objects. Octopuses have also demonstrated problem-solving abilities, and shown evidence of short and long term memory in maze tests.

Is The Common Octopus Endangered?

The common octopus is a popular food in many parts of the world, and the annual harvest amounts to tens of thousands of tonnes.

Despite this pressure, the common octopus is not threatened, and remains common in many parts of its range.

Common Octopus Facts: Conclusion

We hope that you’ve enjoyed learning about the common octopus.

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2 thoughts on “Common Octopus Facts For Kids & Students: Pictures, Information & Video

  1. Mary L.

    Thank you for this beautiful, highly informative site! My son and I learned so much and watched the beautiful common octopus with pleasure.

    Reply

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