Red Octopus

Red Octopus (Octopus rubescens ) as seen in our Rocky Shores exhibit.

Red octopuses are small, dull red or reddish brown animals. They have eight sucker-lined arms and rough skin. Like their octopus kin, red octopus can change their skin color and texture at will. They have an ink sac that contains reddish brown ink. These animals are carnivores and eat small crabs, hermit crabs, crustaceans, mollusks and fishes. They have a parrot like beak which they use primarily for cracking crab shells. The octopus first kills the crab with secretions from its salivary glands and then opens it between the carapace and abdomen. Once the octopus cleans out the crab's body, it pulls off the legs and cleans them out one by one. Mating for the octopus occurs in deep water in late winter and early spring. The males have a modified arm for passing sperm packets to females to fertilize eggs. After mating, male octopus, followed by the females, move inshore to spawning grounds. Females lay clusters of eggs from late spring to early winter and care for the eggs for six to eight weeks. They die soon after the eggs hatch.


Range & Habitat

Red octopuses are common from Alaska to Baja California. They live under rocks in the intertidal and in kelp beds or over rocky or sandy seafloors to 650 feet (200 m). They require cold water with plenty of dissolved oxygen.


Conservation Status

Common.

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