octopus vulgaris

8 Octopus Facts (You’ve Probably Never Heard Of)!

Do you love learning random fun facts? We do too! Here are 8 (see what we did there) octopus facts you might have never heard of. Trust us- one of these is bound to make your jaw drop!


1. Octopuses have cat-like tongues!

It’s called a radula and it’s a tongue-like ribbon lined with rows of tiny teeth that are replaced as they wear down.

Octopuses use their radula to scrape food into their mouths, especially clams and mussels.

How do octopus eat? Learn with OctoNation!

Ever wonder how octopus eat? If you’re looking for the gourmet chefs of the sea, look no further than the octopus.🐙 While they only prepare meals for themselves— inside their mouth are all the tools they need to prepare the perfect dinner!🍴 Let’s take a look at their chef’s tool kit to see how they prepare their food…🔪 Just as knives are meant to dice and cut, an octopus beak, much like a parrot beak, is responsible for cutting food and busting open clams that are too thick to pull open with their arms. The next tool they use is the radula! The radula is a ribbon-like tongue covered with tiny rows of teeth used to shred the meat into tiny pieces and slurp clams and mussels out of their shells once they are broken open. 🦀 For crabs, a favorite meal, the octopus uses its radula to shred and remove crab meat out of the crab's hard outer covering/exoskeleton.If they catch a clam with a thick shell or an animal with sharp claws (like a crab!), no problem— they’ll use this next natural accessory…the salivary papilla!🦷 The salivary papilla is a tooth covered organ that the octopus uses to drill into thick shells they can’t manage to crack open with their beaks or pull apart with their arms.☠️ Into that drilled hole they can release a toxic cocktail of venom that immediately goes to work loosening prey muscle from the shell or skeleton, and paralyzing the prey. 🤩 Can you believe octopuses have all these epic tools behind their beaks?!💭 Why do octopus go through all this trouble to make sure that their food is smushed, crushed, and relaxed before they eat it? 🍩 Their food travels down the esophagus, which passes through their donut shaped brain, before getting to the stomach- that's not a lot of room for large pieces of food! Luckily, this seeming octopus design flaw was course-corrected with an impressive set of mouth tools to make sure anything that enters their body is a well prepared meal 💋 Bon appétit, mon ami! If you read this far… what impressed you the most about Chef Octo?🎥: Ben McCulloch Trayner & Andy Wheatcroft#Octopus #OctoNation #EarthDay #EarthWeek #Nature #underwaterphotography #uwvideo #sea #ocean #scuba #scubadiving #nationalgeographic

Posted by Octonation – The Largest Octopus Fan Club on Friday, April 23, 2021

What if an octopus can’t get into a shell to slurp out its contents?

No problem! If it can’t crack it with its parrot-like beak, it can:

  • Drill holes into hard shells using it’s salivary papilla (found below the radula) 
  • Inject a deadly cocktail containing toxins, proteases (enzyme that breaks down protein), and chitinases (enzyme that breaks down chitin) that helps paralyze the prey and loosen the muscle of the prey from its shell or exoskeleton.
  • Then viola- dinner is served!
Beak & Radula By: Sally Parker / Smithsonian Institution

You can also estimate the size and approximate an octopus’s age just by looking at its radula! The average length and width of the radula, along with the number of teeth can be correlated to an octopus’s body weight.

photo of shells that have been drilled into by an octopus
By: Dr. Chelsea Bennice

“I’ve found octopus dill holes in bivalves, gastropods, and crabs. Drill hole location in bivalves was over, or close to, the site of adductor muscle attachment so that venomous saliva can effectively separate muscles from the shell (see bivalve picture with adductor muscle location in grey). Drill hole location in gastropods was above the body whorl, which was over the site of muscle attachment. ” – Dr. Chelsea Bennice (aka OctoGirl)

2. Octopus poop looks like silly string!

#2 is #PARTYTIME for an octo!

An octopus expels waste through a siphon located on the side of its mantle! The siphon is also responsible for shooting jets of water to propel itself forward, and dispersing ink clouds to protect against predators!

🎉Party streamer or octopus poop?💩 ⁣Ever wonder how octopuses poop? No? Well we’re gonna explain it anyway – so make sure ya tag a buddy below so they win at OctoTrivia. (Should we make that a thing?) ⁣⁣An octopus expels waste through it's siphon located on the side of its mantle – the siphon is also responsible for shooting jets of water to propel itself forward and dispersing ink to protect against predators.⁣⁣The red shade signifies this Maori octopus’ diet consists mainly of crab 🦀 — whereas a paler white indicates a diet of scallops, clams, mussels & shrimp 🦐 ⁣⁣But yeah… kinda looks like silly string huh?⁣⁣so naturally, we think people need to yell out PARTY TIME , when they see this happening! 😂🎉💩⁣⁣Anything else you want to know nation?⁣⁣PS: check out those horns running down the mantle at the end of the clip 😍😍😍⁣⁣🎥 video by Jules Casey (a member of the nation!)

Posted by Octonation – The Largest Octopus Fan Club on Tuesday, February 5, 2019

3. Watch Out! That Octopus Is Venomous…

ALL octopuses are venomous, but only two known species contain a powerful neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin (TTX)– Can you name them both? 

One milligram of TTX can kill a person, making it one of the most known potent natural toxins! To put one milligram in perspective— it’s smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.

TTX is 1,000 times more powerful than cyanide! It is produced by bacteria and is a powerful, fast-acting toxin. A tiny bite could result in:

  • Complete paralysis
  • Blindness
  • Loss of senses
  • Nausea
  • May result in death within minutes! (if first aid isn’t rendered)
blue ringed octopus brandon ryan hannan
Blue-Ringed Octopus by: Brandon Hannan Photography

The toxin goes after your nervous system, blocking nerve signals throughout the body so the first thing you will feel is numbness. Ultimately, it causes complete paralysis of your muscles… including the ones that you need to breathe! YoWza.

Octopuses without TTX use cephalotoxins, a venom that paralyzes the nervous system of their prey while saliva enzymes liquefy muscle tissue, so they can slurp down their meal.

🥊🐙 Put up your gloves up! The Blue-ringed octopus has a venom called tetrodotoxin (TTX) that is 1000 times more toxic than cyanide!

Posted by Warren K Carlyle IV on Wednesday, March 30, 2022

4. Octopuses can breathe AND see through their skin!

Octopuses can be observed out of the water hunting for crabs on shore, but how do they breathe? Their secret is cutaneous respiration! In certain circumstances, 40% of their oxygen intake can come through their skin. 

ON TOP of that, octopuses can see with their skin!!

Light-sensitive proteins called opsins enable octopuses to sense changes in light. Their skin can’t see clear images as their eyes can but it’s pretty cool to think an octopus could stick an arm out of its den and be able to tell if it’s day or night.

The Algae Octopus can breathe out of water! Abdopus aculeatus

ROLL-CALL: Where in the world do you live?🎥: snorkeldownunder🤯 FAST FACT: Did you know some costal species of octopus can breathe through their skin? 🦀 Octopuses have been observed out of the water hunting for crabs & fish stranded in tide pools— but how do they do it? 😱 Are they suffocating? 😶 Anyone else unknowingly hold their breath while watching this video?⁣🦸‍♂️ The octopus has a super power called cutaneous respiration (aka breathing skin)! 4️⃣0️⃣ In certain circumstances, 40% of their oxygen intake can come through their skin. ⁣⁣🌬 When octopus skin stays moist, a tiny amount of gas exchange can occur through passive diffusion, this only allows the octopus to survive on land and in between damp rock beds for short periods of time. ⁣⁣🌊 Tide-pools’ damp atmospheric conditions and shallow waters make for very confident hunting octopuses! 🐙🦀 ⁣⁣🐙 💨 They’ve gotta move FAST though— birds flying above are always on the lookout for a snack.⁣⁣ 😳Species: Algae Octopus 🗺: Queensland, Australia 🇦🇺 🎶: Endless Faces – Lawrence Scheele

Posted by Octonation – The Largest Octopus Fan Club on Sunday, April 17, 2022

5. They can camouflage faster than you can blink!

Yup, in one-fifth of a second to be exact! It’s all thanks to thousands of chromatophores and an extensive neural network that makes them into underwater billboards.

Chromatophores are small pigment-containing cells that are controlled by an array of muscles and nerves. This tiny, elastic sac of color can be stretched or tightened.


When a chromatophore is relaxed, the sac contracts and leaves an octopus looking white. When muscles around a chromatophore tighten, the sac is pulled open, showing color which can be black, brown, orange, red, or yellow (hello 70s vibes!).

Imagine flexing your muscles and BAM you have a whole new outfit on. Science still hasn’t figured out how they manage these incredible color changes while being colorblind!


👽 Take me to your leader 👽 ⁣⁣⚠️ Within chromatophore cells, there are thousands of tiny sacs of color changing pigments. Chromatophores control orange and darker color changes.⁣⁣⁣⁣🌘 When an octopus decides to shift to a darker color, the brown sacs stretch out to the surface, making that color dominant. ⁣⁣⁣⁣✨ Iridophores work differently. They have the ability to reflect back different waves of light. ⁣⁣⁣⁣Iridophores are found under the chromatophores and are responsible for producing the metallic looking greens, blues, and golds seen in some species, as well as the silver shimmery color around their eyes ⛔️⛔️ ⁣⁣⁣⁣🌈 Leucophores are reflectors that produce whiteness in cephalopods containing the high-refractive-index protein reflectin. Leucophores reflect whatever colors are in the available light field e.g. white in white light, red in red light⁣⁣⁣⁣💡 Combine this with an octopuses photophores that produce bioluminescence (glowing skin) & you’ve got yourself some dynamic color changing skin! 🙌🏻❤️🐙😍⁣⁣The common reef octopus was found in Papua New Guinea, and was nice enough to allow OceanShutter to record this moment!

Posted by Octonation – The Largest Octopus Fan Club on Tuesday, March 5, 2019

6. Octopuses have a “water skeleton”!

Guess what? An octopus doesn’t have any bones!

Instead of having the support of a skeletal bone structure like we do, cephalopods rely on a muscular hydrostat system to keep them in tip-top cephalopod form.

atlantic longarm octopus
Atlantic Longarm Octopus

Think of arms and tentacles like your own tongue! It’s mostly muscles that make licking an ice cream cone possible.

Unlike bone structures with rigid skeletal elements, the octopus can bend, twist, elongate, (and more) at MULTIPLE locations simultaneously. Their muscular hydrostat system allows them to perform complex motor activities all while remaining incredibly flexible.

Caption this Video! Coconut Octopus Running along the ocean floor!

Caption this! “The Original Moonwalker” 🎥: bugDreamer.com🦴Octopuses are boneless! (Despite how much confusion that octopus skeleton Halloween prop has caused — have you seen it? Haha) They do have something called a hydrostatic skeleton though—Which, in water, is way cooler than our pesky bones! 💦 Unlike bone structures with rigid skeletal elements, the octopus can bend, twist, elongate, (and more) at MULTIPLE locations simultaneously. 🐘 An elephants trunk and your tongue is another example of a hydrostatic skeletal system at play! 👅 💪 Octopus can flex their arms to push heavy objects away & carry objects around for protection by rising up and “stilt walking” ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ 🥥 The coconut octopus is also capable of bipedal movement which means ‘walking’ on two arms with a ‘rolling gait’⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ although sometimes they’ll use three or four. ⁣ 🪨 The behavior above is known as "the moving rock" trick, where an octopus will keep the majority of their arms tucked in close to their bodies and glide across the ocean floor. 🤩Mesmerizing to watch huh? If ya read this far, comment hydrostatic skeleton! And wahlah! Just like that your OctoIQ went up! 🐙 📈 🧠

Posted by Octonation – The Largest Octopus Fan Club on Friday, October 22, 2021

7. Who’s that? I can’t see!

Octopuses possess short and long-term memory, which means they can observe and remember people and various animals.

A research study on Giant Pacific Octopuses (GPO) at the Seattle Aquarium showed that their behavior, breathing, and colors changed depending on whose face they recognized.

giant pacific octopus at aquarium of the bay
Giant Pacific Octopus at aquarium of the bay

Eight different GPOs were treated either by a ‘nice’ keeper who gave them food or by a designated ‘mean’ keeper who poked them with a bristly stick. After just two weeks of this, the octopuses would approach the nice keeper but hid away when the mean keeper came around.

There are many stories from aquariums and labs where octopuses will decide who they like and who they will spray in the face with water if they come close enough.

Giant Pacific Octopus by: Marcelo Johan Ogata

8. Octopuses DO NOT have a blind spot!

To protect themselves from predators, an octopus can see 360 degrees around themselves!

How? Their optic nerve fibers route behind the retina and their rectangular pupils help octopuses see in all directions in addition to giving them control over how much light they let into their eyes.

Super helpful when you’re out hunting at night looking for prey but need to watch out for predators at the same time. Good luck trying to sneak up on an octopus when they can scan their environment in every direction!

By: Toni Bertran

Their rectangular pupils also allow them to see color! While octopuses are technically colorblind, their dumbbell-shaped pupils act like prisms, scattering white light and splitting it into its color components.

This effect is called chromatic aberration which their wide pupils help to accentuate. When octopuses change the depth of their eyeball, they can focus different wavelengths of light on the retina individually.

Crazy right!?


Psst! Could you name the two venomous octopuses mentioned in fact #3? 

ANSWER: They are the lethal Blue-Ringed Octopus and Mototi Octopus!

🐙 Octopus Fun Fact

World Octopus Day is EVERY DAY in OctoNation– The Largest Octopus Fan Club!

If you want to educate yourself some more about all sorts of different cephalopods, take a look at our encyclopedia. Or, what we call it, our Octopedia!

Connect with other octopus lovers via the OctoNation Facebook group, OctopusFanClub.com! Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with the conservation, education, and ongoing research of cephalopods.

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