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Commonly Asked Questions

Range / Habitat

  • Common octopus occurs worldwide in tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate waters including the Western Atlantic. 
  • It is found in habitats that range from shallow tidal pools to ocean depths of about 492 feet (150 m). 

Physical Characteristics

  • Common octopus is highly variable in color and pattern, but often a mottled combination of red, brown, and pale coloration. 
  • Maximum size is about 3 feet (1 m) in length from the top of its body (mantle) to the tips of its arms.
  • An adult can weigh about 6.6 – 13.2 lbs. (3-6 kg).
  • Common octopus, like other octopods, has eight arms attached to its body. Each arm has two rows of suckers and there may be as many as 250 suckers on each one.
  • Body of the octopus is bulb-shaped and contains all of the octopus’ organs and its mouth. The mouth is located on the underside, where the arms converge. In the center of the mouth is a beak that is made of keratin, the same substance that is in the human fingernail and the rhinoceros horn. The beak is used to bite food items into pieces prior to swallowing. 

Diet / Feeding

  • Preys primarily at night on crustaceans, such as shrimp and crabs, as well as fish, bivalves and smaller mollusks.
  • Juveniles actively hunt very small larval animals before settling into a benthic lifestyle as they grow. This early life food source makes raising this species in human care very difficult. 

Reproduction / Growth

  • During the mating period, the males and females have multiple partners. Eggs are laid in empty mollusk shells or even in man-made objects. One female may produce between 100,000 to 500,000 eggs.
  • During egg-laying and the brooding period, the female does not eat. This can be as long as five months. Females die shortly after the last eggs hatch.

Conservation Status

  • “Not Evaluated” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Lifespan for the common octopus is about 12 to 24 months.
  • Like many species of octopus, common octopus will leave piles of shells and other refuse from prey outside its crevice or cave. These are called “middens,” and can help a diver spot a possible octopus lair.

Reef Creature Identification Florida Caribbean Bahamas. Human, P. and Deloach, N.
Cephalopods, A World Guide. Norman, M.