How do octopuses avoid getting tangled around themselves?« Back to Questions List

Octopuses are highly intelligent cephalopods (mollusks) with good memories. They possess eight arms and can instantly regenerate them if they lose one. The arms are joined together at the bases by a web. They are highly curious and their intelligence has taught them to negotiate mazes. They have an amazing ability to escape from containers by making their tentacles and body extraordinarily flat and then ooze out through cracks.


Octopuses normally live on the seafloor and crawls on its tentacles. They can also crawl out of the water to catch crabs on land but not for long. By flapping the webs between the tentacles, it propels itself slowly through the water. They range in size from midgets to giants.


Their tentacles have some hundreds of suckers strong enough to stick to anything. As they do not sense their own skin, it was a mystery as how the arms did not get tangled with each other. This is because the octopus released a tactile or chemical signal, which automatically shuts down the suckers, whenever it sensed one of its own hands.

The suckers on octopus arms that are amputated can remain active for up to an hour after being cut and can even try to pick up food. Even then they must never stick onto their own or the amputated arm of any other octopus.


Octopus normally preys on crabs and lobsters. It seizes the crab with its tentacles and dispatches it with a bite of its powerful beak, aided by poison from its salivary glands which is absorbed by the crab’s gills.

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