According to Two Oceans: A guide to the Marine Life of Southern Africa (Struik, 2007), the common octopus lives at depths of up to 200m and feeds on crabs, shellfish and rock lobsters. It lives in crevices and holes and is fiercely territorial.
The female lays eggs and tiny octopuses hatch directly from the eggs. The young grow quickly, gaining up to 6kg in a year.
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What do a snail and an octopus have in common?
Octopuses belong to the mollusc family – to which snails, mussels, squid and cuttlefish also belong – and are probably amongst the most sophisticated of all invertebrates.
As with all molluscs, the octopus has a shell, but this has been modified to an internal rather than an external shell.
A beak like a parrot?
Octopuses live on or close to the sea bed and feed mainly on small fish and other invertebrates. Using long tentacles studded with suckers, they are able to catch their prey with great speed and accuracy.
They have a strong beak similar to that of a parrot, with which they can tear their prey.
Some also use toxins from poisonous glands to kill prey. The toxin of one species in Australia, the blue-ringed octopus, is capable of killing a man within seconds.
Master of camouflage
The octopus is the master of camouflage and renowned for its rapid colour changes. It can adapt its body colour to match that of the surrounding environment within seconds, and thus ensure its protection.
Another defense mechanism used with great effect is its ink – octopuses have ink glands, which can squirt clouds of ink into the water to confuse potential predators.
It is said that the octopus has the intelligence of a domestic cat and can be taught to distinguish between objects of different sizes, shapes, colour and texture.
The eyes of an octopus are remarkably similar to those of humans in that they also have a cornea, an iris, a lens, a pupil and a retina. Octopuses can escape through any space so long as their eyes can fit through it!
I live here!
As octopuses are fiercely territorial and solitary animals, we can only display one octopus in the same exhibit at any given time. Octopuses will fight to the death to retain ownership of their cave.
To ensure the health and well-being of our octopuses, we provide each of them with a natural habitat that includes a cave, movable rocks and algae. At times we also provide “food puzzles” and non-food items. This encourages natural behaviour such as foraging and exploration.
As intelligent as a domestic cat
If its eye can fit through a hole, its body can fit