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Octopus Facts for Kids

Octopus Facts for Kids


By Lauren Orme 

Where does an octopus live? What does it eat? And if you are talking about more than one, do you call them octopuses or octopi? Keep reading to learn more about these intelligent ocean problem-solvers with octopus facts for kids. 

Where do octopus live? 

Where do octopus live? Octopuses can be found in every ocean. Some species are tiny, and others have an arm span of several feet! They are shy creatures who spend much of their time in dens or rocky crevices under water. These dens can be very hard to spot, except for one clue. 

What do octopus eat?


What do octopus eat? Octopuses eat shellfish, sails, and other mollusks, and have been known to leave the shells of their prey outside their dens, sometimes stacked like dishes. These piles of shells are called middens, or octopus gardens! (Monterey Bay Aquarium)

Octopuses are solitary animals, which means they rarely interact with each other, but if you are talking about more than one, ‘octopuses’ is the correct term (‘octopi’ is considered acceptable, though it is technically incorrect). 

The word octopus combines two terms in ancient Greek to mean ‘eight footed,’ but scientists refer to their amazing appendages as ‘arms.’  Each one of these muscular arms is equipped with powerful suckers that are capable of taste! Unlike squid, their close relatives, octopuses do not have tentacles (Smithsonian). 

Octopuses use their arms to bury themselves in sediment, catch prey, and even carry things! Some octopuses in Indonesia have been seen carrying two halves of a coconut with them underwater. If threatened, they will sit in one half of the coconut, and pull the other half over them and hide! (National Geographic)

Clever Problem Solvers

Octopuses are mollusks, which means they have no bones. The hardest substance in their body is their beak, which looks just like a parrot’s beak. This sharp mouthpiece can be found at the center of their body where the eight arms meet. Because octopuses don’t have a skeleton, they can squeeze through any opening their beak will fit through! These escape artists can be difficult to keep in captivity. (Seattle Aquarium)

Another octopus fact for kids – scientists believe octopuses are very intelligent. They are one of the few animals outside the mammal class that use tools. Octopuses can solve puzzles, learn by making observations, and even open the lids of jars! (Maui Ocean Center).

Masters of Camouflage

Octopuses have special skin cells called chromatophores that allow them to change color and texture to blend in with their surroundings. The chromatophores change color when the octopus expands and contracts their muscles (Ocean Conservancy). Try it out! Squeeze the tip of your finger and see what happens to the color of your fingernail. 

An octopus will use their camouflage skills to hide from predators, like eels, fish, and otters, or to sneak up on crabs and other prey. Sometimes they will copy the shapes and colors of coral, algae, or even patches of sand! This behavior is known as biomimicry. (Scientific American)

Be a Friend to Octopuses 

Octopuses are sensitive to pollution and need safe places to live. You can be a friend to octopuses by protecting their habitats and food sources. Discard your trash in the proper receptacles, and leave shells on the beach. Follow Ocean Blue Project to learn more about other ways to help, like hosting your own cleanup or finding a beach or river cleanup near you! 

You can also learn more about Ocean Blue’s K-12 STEAM Curriculum by visiting our youth education page and learning how you can bring OBP Blue Schools to your classroom.

Author Bio: Lauren Orme is a writer with a background in environmental studies and marine science. She loves exploring the ocean and is passionate about sharing it with others. In her free time, Lauren likes to be outside with her dog.