Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    mototi
    Genus
    Octopus
    Family
    Octopodidae
    Order
    Octopoda
    Subclass
    Coleoidea
    Class
    Cephalopoda
    Phylum
    Mollusca
  • Size Range
    A large octopus with an armspan of up to 50cm.

Both the common and scientific names for this octopus come from Rapa Island in the South Pacific, where the species is referred to as ‘fe’e mototi’, or ‘poison octopus’.

Identification

Normally Octopus mototi are drab orange-cream-brown in colour with black papillae over each eye. When alarmed they may change colour dramatically to maroon stripes over a white background along the body and arms. A pair of iridescent blue rings act as false-eye spots to scare off potential predators.

Habitat

Octopus mototi occurs on coral reefs, coral rubble and sand habitats from shallow waters to at least 50m deep.

Distribution

This octopus has a wide distribution through tropical waters from Okinawa, Japan to Australia and throughout the South Pacific.

Feeding and diet

Appears to feed primarily on shellfish and hermit crabs, both for which it drills through the shell, injecting a paralytic saliva before extracting the paralysed prey.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The female lays small eggs in long branching strings. The young are thought to be planktonic, accounting for its wide distribution throughout the South Pacific.

References

  • Norman, M., (2000) Cephalopods- A World Guide, ConchBooks, Germany (Hackenheim)
  • Norman, M & A. Reid., (2000) A Guide to Squid, Cuttlefish and Octopuses of Australasia, CSIRO Publishing, Victoria (Collingwood)