How Long Do Octopus Live? All About Their Unusual Life Cycle

You should probably wonder about octopus lifespans, even if you haven’t before. Why? Because their deaths are tragic and interesting in the same way.

So, how long do octopuses live? And why is it named a tragedy?

Octopuses are among the smartest species on Earth, yet they only survive a few years. The majority of species only live for a few years. Nevertheless, that isn’t the worst part.

Just after releasing their eggs, octopuses perish. The animal kingdom isn’t immune to this. The octopuses’ deaths are unusual. Researchers have just recently discovered why death isn’t pleasant.

How Long Do Octopuses Live?

Octopuses that live in shallow waters have a limited lifespan. Most species have a lifespan of about two years on average. Some species can only survive for 6 months, whereas others may survive for up to 5 years.

Octopuses that live in deep water are less well-known. Some animals, however, have been known to survive for up to 18 years. In comparison to their shallow-dwelling cousins, they are much longer.

What Is An Octopus?

Cephalopods are mollusks that include octopuses. Cephalopods include cuttlefish and squid, and the term comes from the Greek word meaning “head-foot.”

Octopuses come in over 300 different varieties. Since there are just 800 species of cephalopods in total, this is significant.

Octopuses are typically divided into all mollusks with eight arms. The order Octopoda covers all of the octopod species. True octopuses, on the other hand, belong to the genus Octopus and dwell in shallow oceans throughout the globe.

The shape and size of octopuses vary greatly. Octopus arborescens, the tiniest octopus, is only about 2 inches (5 cm) long.

The massive Pacific octopus is on the opposite end of the spectrum. With an arm span of up to 30ft (9m), it may grow up to 18ft (5.4m) long.

The sac-like body of most octopus species is separated from the rest of the body by a small head. They have eight long arms and huge eyes. To grip its prey, each arm features two rows of suckers.

The mouth, which features two pointed beaks, is located at the bottom of their arms. A “radula,” which is an organ used for shelling and deboning meat, is also present.

In the majority of cases, the siphon is engaged in respiration. When startled, octopuses can utilize it as well. Via their siphon, they may fire a stream of water that will send them backwards.

Octopuses Are One of the Smartest Animals in the World

In general, invertebrates aren’t the brightest creatures on the planet. The octopus, on the other hand, wins in a landslide!

The brain and nervous system of octopuses are both huge. In reality, they have almost the same number of neurons as dogs. Many receptors send signals to the brain, hence they can receive several messages.

Their brains are so complex that one area of the brain solely functions as a learning tool. Other invertebrates are unable to do what this region of their brain does: solve problems.

The intelligence of these creatures continues to astound researchers and aquarists.

Take, for example, Inky the Octopus. The New Zealand Aquarium was home to this octopus. It squeezed through a tiny gap in its enclosure to escape. It was then lowered into the bay via a 164-foot (49.9-meter) drainage pipe.

How Do Octopuses Reproduce?

So, how do octopuses reproduce? It’s a fascinating process, but it doesn’t end well.

For mating, a male octopus has a specialized arm. He usually uses this third right arm to deposit sperm.

The male’s specialized arm is inserted into the female’s mantle cavity, which he does first. The sperm will subsequently be released to fertilize the eggs.

The male may fail to put his sperm into the female at times. Instead, until she is ready for fertilization, he will “hand” her the sperm to protect them.

How Do Octopuses Die After Mating?

The unfortunate news is that octopuses go through a process known as “senescence” after mating.

After mating, the male will survive for a few months. The female is able to live for a similar period of time, although she protects her eggs for a bit longer. She will perish when the eggs have hatched.

The body of an octopus begins to shut down and abandon them as it dies. It will first lose its appetite. It will then be unable to move properly, and its motions will be uncoordinated and difficult. Ultimately, the animal’s whole body will turn white and will not heal.

A Mother’s Death

A female octopus’s death is a process that involves several stages. She will guard the eggs for about three to four days after they are laid. She caresses and blows water on them, treating them like little children. She will eat if prey comes by, even if she isn’t going out to hunt.

She’ll quit eating for the rest of the week, possibly longer. She’ll find it difficult to move as she becomes more agitated.

In the final phase, she will start to self-mutilate as well. She appears to be attempting suicide by leaving her brood.

Mothers have been recorded beating themselves against rocks by scientists. They devour sections of their arms and rip their skin apart.

The mother has accomplished her objective once the eggs hatch. Her health starts to deteriorate quickly right away. Her body’s cells start to self-destruct. This causes her to die by killing her tissues and forcing her organs to shut down.

Why, then, do octopuses die after mating? What’s the goal here? Why do moms want to end their lives after producing eggs?

Why Do Female Octopuses Die After Mating?

Researchers have been seeking an answer to this question for a long time. The chemicals that their bodies secrete now appear to be the answer.

The production of cholesterol in the body changes after the eggs are laid. As a result, steroid hormone production increases. In female octopuses, the growth seems to cause rapid aging and mortality.

Chemical Changes

The cause of death was beginning to be determined in 1977. It demonstrated that a mother octopus’s optic glands are the source of her self-destruction.

The moms abandon their eggs when the nerves to the optic gland are severed, according to the researchers. She starts eating again and may survive for another four to six months.

It was also unclear why the optic gland caused self-destruction, according to researchers.

Z. is the abbreviation for zinc. At the University of Washington, Yan Wang is a psychology and biology assistant professor. Wang and her colleagues planned to conduct new studies in 2018. They found that the optic gland is producing too much steroid.

The levels of the hormones pregnenolone and progesterone increased after the eggs were laid. These hormones are used by animals in reproduction. 7-dehydrocholesterol synthesis was likewise boosted, which is a precursor to cholesterol.

Finally, they manufactured more bile acid-producing elements. A worm species used in research is controlled by a set of acids with a similar lifespan.

Wang thinks that manipulating invertebrate lifespans is linked to these bile acids.

What Is the Purpose of Their Death?

Researchers aren’t sure why a female octopus’s body responds in this way. It’s possible that it’s a method to safeguard the young, according to some theories. The mother attracts predators to herself and away from the eggs by dying in such a spectacular manner.

Some have theorized that the mother releases nutrients into the water. The eggs would be bolstered by these nutrients.

Wang has a different idea. She thinks that killing mothers is to keep their children safe. Octopuses are cannibals, despite the fact that moms are extremely protective of their eggs. If they were still present after their eggs hatched, they would most likely consume their offspring.

Why Do Male Octopuses Die After Mating?

Why males die shortly after mating is still a mystery for researchers. After mating, males swim away and abandon their partners. Since he does not have the same responsibility to safeguard as the mother does, he does not participate in any parental responsibilities.

For now, this remains a mystery.

Octopus Life Cycle

From start to end, an octopus’s life is hazardous. Only 1% of eggs survive to maturity, not only after copulation, but also after copulation.


The female lays her eggs after mating. They may lay between 200,000 and 400,000 eggs at a time, depending on the species. The eggs, which are encased in a protective egg sack, are tiny and no larger than a pinky nail.

Octopuses produce so many eggs because they have a very poor survival rate. Just a few eggs out of hundreds hatch into maturity. Only one or two offspring are often born alive from the clutch.

The mother winds all of the eggs together into lengthy threads after she has laid them. These spidery strands of eggs make it easier for her to protect herself since they offer better security.

The eggs will take around 30 to 40 days to hatch in most animals. Depending on the temperature of the water, the incubation period changes.


When they hatch, offspring become “paralarvae.” The larvae swim towards the surface, where the light attracts them. They drift through the ocean in a large group called a “plankton cloud.”

Until they reach maturity, they eat the larvae of other species. During this period, they are particularly susceptible. Other plankton eaters are constantly threatening to devour them.


Before reaching full maturity, they go through the “subadult” stage. The subadult will seek out a resting area on a reef, where they want to eat as much as possible. Their primary goal is to grow in size, which improves their chances of survival.

They must gain as much weight as feasible, and do it as soon as possible. Octopuses may weigh up to 1% of their body weight every day in rare circumstances.


Octopuses spend the rest of their lives alone once they reach maturity. They picked a spot in the home where they will spend the most time.

The octopus can easily fit inside the den, which is big enough. Predators can’t get to them because they’re small enough. Only for a few hours per day do they venture out of their lair to hunt or seek a mate.

Octopus Lifespan

The lifespan of octopuses is quite brief. Despite the fact that they are one of the brightest creatures on the planet, this is sad. The species determines how long they live. In captivity, their life expectancy appears to be the same as in the wild.

Some octopuses survive for just six months on the shorter end. They can survive for up to five years on the upper end.

The Common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris)

The common octopus is the most widely available. It’s an octopus with a medium size. It can be found all throughout the world’s tropical and temperate oceans.

The most prevalent octopus in the world, it is also the most clever invertebrate. It has evolved highly developed pigment-bearing cells. These cells may alter the skin’s color swiftly and dramatically.

Lifespan: 12-18 months

The Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) — The Largest & Longest-Lived Shallow-Dwelling Octopus

The world’s biggest octopus is the enormous pacific octopus. It has a 9.75-16ft (2.74-4.88m) body that can stretch. They weigh practically nothing, despite their massive size. These octopuses weigh an average of 22 to 110 pounds (9.98 to 49.9 kilograms).

The biggest giant Pacific octopus dwarfed its relatives, despite being an average. The world’s biggest octopus grew to be 30 feet (9.14 meters) long and weighed more than 600 pounds (272.16 kilograms).

Lifespan: 3-5 years

The Atlantic Pygmy Octopus (Octopus joubini) — Shortest Lifespan

One of the world’s smallest octopuses is the Atlantic pygmy octopus. The lifespan is also shortest. They only survive for around 4-8 months and grow to be about 5.9in (15cm) long.

One of the smartest octopuses species is also known as them. They have excellent eyesight and seek out the most unusual habitats. Clamshells, cans, and other tiny spaces may be used to conceal them. They’ll even make their own lid out of sand and gravel once they’re inside.

Lifespan: 4-8 months

The Hairy Octopus (No Official Scientific Name) — The Smallest Octopus

Because they’re so tiny and difficult to observe, we don’t know much about hairy octopuses. They can float across the water thanks to thin skin flaps that cover them. The octopuses can stay hidden thanks to these flaps of skin that resemble hair. These octopuses are barely 2 inches (5 centimeters) long, despite their tiny size.

The Blue-Ringed Octopus (genus Hapalochlaena) — The Most Deadly

One of the most deadly creatures in the ocean is the blue-ringed octopus. The octopus has enough venom to kill 26 adult humans in a matter of minutes, despite its tiny size. Venom is said to be 1000 times more powerful than cyanide, according to researchers.

The octopus isn’t particularly hostile, which is fortunate. You should be alright if you leave it alone. However, because its bite is painless, you might not realize you’ve been bitten until it’s too late.

Lifespan: 12-18 months

The Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) — A Master Of Disguise

The mimic octopus is a master of disguise. It can alter the texture of its skin, in addition to altering its color. This octopus’s ability to imitate the movements of other marine species is even more insane.

Other species may imitate similar animals in different ways. The mimic octopus stands out because it can imitate up to two additional species. According to the researchers, they can replicate 15 additional species. Even so, several divers claim to have seen them imitate far more creatures.

How Long Can an Octopus Stay Out Of Water?

An octopus may emerge from the water for a brief period, albeit this isn’t frequent. The aquarium is not secured when an octopus is a pet, resulting in this. Octopuses are amazing escape artists. Even the tiniest of openings can accommodate them.

Fortunately, there is time to return the octopus to the water if this happens. Octopuses may survive up to 30 minutes out of water, according to marine biologist Ken Halanych.

What Factors Affect An Octopus’s Life?

The species and size of an octopus seem to be the most important factors in its life. Some species have a longer life expectancy than others. Larger animals seem to outlive smaller animals as well.

Human Interference

Octopuses do face anthropogenic hazards, despite the fact that they are not endangered. Climate change and pollution are the two major issues we’re creating.

Efficient metabolism boosts egg hatch speeds as temperatures rise. The eggs might hatch prematurely if the water is too warm, reducing the chance of survival.

Mature octopuses are also vulnerable to warming waters. In warmer seas, their metabolic rates rise as well. As a result, they must use more energy than they would in colder water. Predators may be more dangerous to them, and their development may be hampered as a result.

As we continue to pollute our oceans, ocean acidification becomes a more serious problem. Water quality fluctuations are very harmful to octopuses. As a result, any pollution has the potential to harm people’s lives.


For years, scientists have suspected octopuses to be cannibalistic. They found out by seeing partly digested octopuses parts in their own guts, which they did. However, they were baffled by their cannibalism for the longest time.

The behavior is now more apparent after researchers were able to observe it. Larger octopuses seem to see smaller octopuses as a food source in the majority of situations. Because to their size and availability, they take advantage of it as a snack.

After mating, female spiders have been observed devouring males. They think that this is done by females to get quick nutrition. Egg protection is a tiresome and draining task. They are set up for early success after eating their mate shortly after they were fertilized.

Are Octopuses Endangered?

Most octopus species are classified as “least concern” on the IUCN Red List, according to the organization. For many other species, we don’t have enough information to judge their risk. Octopuses are not thought to be in danger, overall.

Which Lives Longer: Octopuses or Squid?

Octopuses and squids have a similar life cycle and lifespan. Unless you’re looking at a certain species, neither really lives longer than the other. Squid species, on average, survive for about a year.

Squid, like octopuses, die soon after mating.


What Is the Longest Living Octopus?

The Graneledone octopus (Graneledone boreopacifica), a deep-sea dwelling species, is the longest-lived octopus. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research and Exploration Institute (MBARI) researchers were taken aback by this species. They appear to have uncovered something intriguing about this octopus’s lengthy life and brooding period.

Only about 4% of octopuses survive past their first year. As a result, it’s surprising to learn that these octopuses brood their eggs for 4.5 years, far surpassing their natural lifespan. Among any other creature on the planet, this is the longest period of contemplation.

The lifespan of these octopuses is unknown to researchers. Octopuses, on the other hand, spend around a quarter of their lives alone. As a result, they could potentially survive up to 18 years.

Is the Kraken an Octopus?

Of course, the Kraken is a mythical creature. It is a feared creature that originated in Scandinavian folklore. The tale is thought to have evolved after sailors observed massive squids, according to experts. Giant squids reach lengths of 40-50ft (13-15m) and resemble octopuses. If you didn’t know what you were looking at, that would be enough to scare anybody!

Giant squid sightings are said to have inspired the myth. The figure is often best represented as an octopus’s body.

How Intelligent Is an Octopus?

Octopuses are incredibly smart creatures. Several examples have already been discussed. Cans and shells may be used as camouflage, and they may imitate other animals. These guys are great escapologists. Furthermore, they have a specialized region of their brain for problem-solving.

Octopuses may also separately control each of their eight arms. Although this isn’t exactly accurate, some individuals consider them to have “brains in each arm.”

They have suckers with specialized receptors that can detect chemicals by touch. These sensors can be used to engage with the surroundings. Even so, each arm may be used independently to do so.

They also have a centralized brain that governs everything from the top down. The brain didn’t seem to be able to allow each arm to operate independently at first.

In 2011, though, scientists performed an experiment that refuted this. When necessary, the brain in the center could take control of the arms. They disabled octopuses’ particular receptors by testing them. As a consequence, their arms had to be moved using the centralized brain.

As a result, octopuses have central and regional control over their behavior.

How Many Hearts Does an Octopus Have?

The hearts of octopuses are three in number, and their blood is blue.

Hemocyanin is a protein that both their bodies and ours contain. Throughout the body, this protein transports oxygen. Iron is a component of hemoglobin, which gives blood its red color.

An octopus’s hemoglobin contains copper, rather than iron. In cold, low-oxygenated environments, copper is more efficient than iron in transporting oxygen. Copper-based blood is more beneficial for marine life in a nutshell.

Octopus blood isn’t always blue, to be honest. The blood becomes deoxygenated when the animal dies. As a result, the blood turns clear rather than blue.

Since each heart has its own job to do, an octopus now possesses three hearts. Blood flows through the body’s organs thanks to one heart. The second set of hearts is concerned with allowing the body to take in oxygen by pumping blood through the gills.

Can an Octopus Be a Pet?

Keeping an octopus as a pet is permissible in most places. Even so, it’s only for experienced aquarium owners that it’s recommended. Octopuses are appealing as pets, but they are difficult to care for and get bored quickly.

Your new pet may escape and dry up if your aquarium is not properly secured. Octopuses are sensitive to changes in water quality as well. It’s also vital to keep an eye on your water quality.

Second, because they are extremely bright, they get bored easily. That is not fair for the octopus since most people do not have enough time to properly educate it. For the typical aquarium keeper, a well-equipped tank isn’t feasible.

A variety of enrichment items, such as shells, pots, and beads, should be available in octopus tanks. However, octopuses seem to get bored even when they have all of these things. Octopuses that are under-stimulated often self-mutilate.

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