If you’re here, you are most likely someone who enjoys morsels of information about our favorite cephalopod—the octopus! But what are 5 things an octopus eats and enjoys? Just like their two-armed pals (humans), octopuses eat many tasty morsels, depending on where they live in the ocean and what their energy requirements are. Read on to learn more!
Bring on the meat!
What is definitely on the menu for an octopus? Meat! Octopuses are carnivores, and they actively forage or hunt their prey.
Many octopuses envelop prey with their webbed arms—kind of like a hug, except not as friendly.
If their meal comes encased in a hard shell, the octopus pierces through the shell with its beak. (And, yes, octopuses have beaks!) That way, it can get to its meal quicker and sometimes carry those shells back to its den to decorate!
What are 5 things an octopus eats?
Octopus often eat other sea creatures such as:
- Crustaceans (shrimps and crabs)
- Gastropods (snails)
- Bivalves (clams and mussels)
- Fish (including sharks)
- And—occasionally—a member of their own kin
🐙 Fun Fact 🐙
Occasional octopus cannibalism is totally a thing. In 2014, divers observed and recorded three instances of cannibalism among wild Common Octopus adults, and scientists confirmed what was happening. In all three cases, the cannibal was way bigger than its prey.
🐙 Fun Fact 🐙
Some octopus pile up their prey’s empty shells outside their den, alongside random rocks and shells they collect. This is sometimes called an “octopus’s garden.” (Cue the Beatles!)
What does an octopus diet look like?
There are many meaty menu options for an octopus, and each species will eat what’s available in its particular habitat.
For instance, a Reef-Dwelling Octopus species like the day octopus is going to eat things that also live in coral reefs—crabs, fish, and so on. A deep-dwelling species like a Dumbo Octopus will eat:
- Deep-sea crustaceans (copepods and amphipods)
- Bristle worms
Most of the time because that’s what’s available!
In this case… size matters
A big octopus, like the Giant Pacific Octopus, is more apt to take down larger prey, such as a dogfish shark (!!), while a smaller octopus is more likely to stick to smaller prey items.
For instance, the smallest known octopus, the teeny-tiny Star-Sucker Pygmy Octopus, munches on plankton for a good chunk of its life.
So … what do octopus eat?
As you can see, what an octopus specifically eats depends very much on which octopus you’re talking about, along with where it lives and how large it is. It also depends on whether you’re considering a baby octopus or a full-grown adult octopus (the babies eat plankton.)
However varied octopus’ palettes can be, they all have one important thing in common: meat. Octopus just don’t eat plants.
“Hard pass on the side salad.” –Every Octopus Ever
Welcome to the wonderful, wacky world of octopus!
🐙 Fun Fact 🐙
If you loved learning about what 5 things an octopus eats is, check out this post and learn everything there is to know about an octopus and its diet!
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.
More FAQs To Read:
- How Smart Are Octopuses?
- Do Octopus Have Bones?
- How Do Octopus Mate?
- Does An Octopus Have Arms or Tentacles?
Bethanie Hestermann is a freelance writer and author of animal-science books, including Zoology for Kids and Marine Science for Kids. She is a contributing writer for OctoNation! You can find all her books at www.zoologyforkids.com/books.