Red octopuses are generalist predators, which means they basically eat whatever they can catch near where they live: other gastropods (snails and their relatives), small fish, crabs and clams. Like all octopuses, they can locate prey through taste, touch and sight—mainly the first two. Octopuses have thousands of receptors along the rims of their suckers. These receptors allow them to identify prey through textures, shapes and tiny amounts of scent.
Not always red
Ranging in color from solid grey, brown or red to a variety of mottled colors with white spots, the red octopus doesn’t seem very aptly named. Its ink, however, is reddish or red-brown; the ink of the giant Pacific octopus is dark brown.
A nasty bite
Red octopuses can and will bite—if you’re lucky enough to see one in the wild, don’t touch it! Their venom can cause very painful local effects; some people experience generalized illness for up to a week after being bitten.
Red octopuses have boneless, highly flexible and soft bodies that allow them to squeeze through very small spaces, even those as small as one of their eyeballs! They generally reserve this ability for emergencies, preferring to go through larger holes—the size of two eyeballs or bigger. Red octopuses like to feel a hole with their arms before going through it. Then they push their eyes through, one at a time, to look around and see if it’s safe to continue. If so, they push the rest of their heads though, and then their bodies.
Almost the same, then very different
Despite the contrast in their adult sizes, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a young red octopus and a young giant Pacific octopus. There’s one surefire way to know if you’re looking at a baby red octopus: see our octopuses fact sheet
More fun facts!
For more fun cephalopod facts, click on the image below.