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