Octopus Basics - Keeping an Octopus as a Pet

By Nancy King

Nancy is a member of the TONMO.com staff -- you can discuss octopuses and more with her in our Cephalopod Care forums

What is an octopus? It's a sea creature found in all oceans of the world, even in the cold waters of the Arctic and Antarctica. It lives in deep or shallow water and can range in size from very tiny (pygmy octopus) to man-sized (Giant Pacific Octopus). All octopuses have eight muscular but flexible arms ("octo" means eight) with rows of suckers to help them hold their prey or just get around. Octopuses have no bones, so never ask to see the skeleton of an octopus! This enables them to squeeze through very small spaces. The main part of the octopus' body is called the mantle. Its two eyes are located there, and a siphon, which is a tube for expelling water. Underneath, in the center of all the arms, is the beak for killing prey and eating.


Octopus filosus Photo credit: Colin Dunlop

Octopuses belong to a group known as Cephalopods; other members of this group are cuttlefish, squid and nautilus - all are types of mollusks, like the familiar snail.

Octopuses live in a variety of conditions in the ocean, from very deep water to coral reefs or even along the shore. Some are adept at leaving the water for a time and hunting along the water's edge, in tide pools. People sometimes think that octopuses can barely move once out of the water. These hunting octopuses travel along very well, collecting good things to eat and stuffing them in their mantle to carry back to their den, where they will have a...
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About the Author
Nancy has an interest in all things cephy but especially octopus behavior. She maintains two saltwater aquariums and has kept O. bimaculoides and O. briareus as well as many other invertebrates. She joined the TONMO.com staff in March 2002 with a background in management, editing and technical writing in technology companies. She enjoys helping people with ceph keeping, including writing articles. Nancy also has a strong background in art and currently works in precious metals and watercolor with a goal of producing high quality art with marine themes. She holds an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin and presently lives in Dallas, Texas - only five hours from the Gulf!


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