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6 things you didn't know about octopuses

Bet you never knew these animals were this sexy ... or scary.

October 8, 2015 | Latest Photo Prev Next
Big Red Octopus (Octopus cyaneus) in the Red SeaBig Red Octopus (Octopus cyaneus) in the Red SeaPhoto: Rich Carey / Shutterstock
October 8, 2015 | Latest Photo

This big red octopus poses for quite the photo as he cruises through Israel's Red Sea. He wants you to know a few things about himself, and we're always happy to oblige a Kraken-esque beast with nightmare tentacles that could probably squeeze us to death, so we've put together some interesting facts for you. Happy World Octopus Day!

They use tools

Like many other animals, octopuses use tools. In 2009, scientists watched veined octopuses build mobile homes out of discarded coconut shells.

"While I have observed and videoed octopuses hiding in shells many times, I never expected to find an octopus that stacks multiple coconut shells and jogs across the seafloor carrying them," said researcher Julian Finn, a marine biologist at the Museum Victoria in Australia.

They can walk on dry land

Dun dun dun ... It's true. Some shallow-water species intentionally come ashore to hunt. They've been caught preying on seagulls.


And we're not just talking about marine animals feebly rolling around the ground. When pre-veterinary student Alexa Warburton had to scoop the animals out of their tanks, some of them would actually trampoline off the net, jump to the floor, and take off running. Yes, running.

“You’d chase them under the tank, back and forth, like you were chasing a cat,” Warburton said.

They're playful

It's hard to know what's going on inside of an animal's head (or arms, in this case, since two-thirds of an octopus's nervous system is in its arms), except sometimes it isn't. Lots of researchers at aquariums and biology labs know octopuses are very curious and need stimulation (red octopuses, like the one featured here, are some of the most common aquarium species).

One scientist quoted in the book "Octopus!" remembers the time an octopus pushed a plastic bottle over and over again at a stream of water flowing into its tank. It was playing underwater bouncy ball.

They've got no rhythm


Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that, unlike similarly structured creatures such as crabs, octopuses move wherever one of their arms propels them. The movements are random; no left-right-left-right. So you know what that means: don't try dancing with an octopus.

When they're bored, they eat their own arms

We did a spit-take when we found this one out just to make sure we weren't chewing on our own fingers. While octopuses that live in cages with cool shells and stuff are totally happy to not snack on their limbs, octopuses living in boring cages get stressed out and start, well, adding an unusual source of protein to their diets: themselves.

They also do other, way more fun things with their arms

A male octopus's sex organ is at the end of his arm, which makes sexytime quite a bit simpler for these animals. An Abdopus aculeatus male will often just stay in his "house" and stretch his arm into a female's house for some remarkably un-intimate intimacy. Men.

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Related Topics: Animals, Environment, Lists