Fear Or Fascination: Are Octopus Dangerous?

are octopus dangerous

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Octopuses can be found in all five of the world’s oceans, often living in coastal marine waters and spending lots of time in their dens.

With eight tentacles and a large super-intelligent brain, they’re exceptional predators that feed on crabs, clams, sea stars, and more.

Despite their lack of a skeleton, they crab onto their prey before injecting it with venom through their parrot-like beak, which quickly liquefies their prey and allows them to slurp it up easily.

In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at the octopus and answer a question that many are eager to learn the answer to. Are octopus dangerous?

No, for the most part, octopuses are not dangerous. However, there are some small species of octopus that are capable of killing you if they inject you with venom, but provided they are not provoked these animals are very passive and not a threat to humans.

Are Octopuses Actually Dangerous?

With over 300 total species of octopus roaming our oceans, some are much more dangerous than others when it comes to the venom they contain.

For example, the large Giant Pacific Octopus is the largest species of octopus in the world that inhabits the Northern Pacific Ocean off the United States up to Alaska and around Japan.

Whilst this octopus may look cute, it can weigh up to 600 pounds and if it feels threatened or intimidated will not hesitate to defend itself.

These are some of the most effective and intelligent animals in our oceans, so you really don’t want to get on the wrong side of one.

Thankfully, octopuses as a species are very passive animals and no recorded fatalities or harmful attacks have been recorded by the Giant Pacific octopus.

There are some smaller species however which are much more deadly. The Blue Ringed Octopus is no bigger than your fingernail, measuring only seven to ten centimeters but containing one of the most deadly venoms on the planet.

Blue-ringed octopus contains a deadly toxin known as tetrodotoxin or TTX, the toxin is used so the tiny octopus can paralyze its prey before consuming it.

The TTX that a blue-ringed octopus contains is so deadly that only 1 milligram of it can kill a human. It’s one of the most potent toxins on earth and there is no antidote.

Will An Octopus Attack A Human?

Whilst some species of octopus are capable of killing a human if they are bitten and left alone with no help.

This is an incredibly unlikely scenario as many octopuses are completely passive animals and more inquisitive and friendly than aggressive.

The blue-ringed octopus is a highly venomous animal that could cause death with just one bite, but if treated with respect and care will likely not attack or bite a human.

Many people have had these octopuses walk across their hands without even knowing that they are incredibly deadly, which shows you how passive these animals really are.

The larger octopuses such as the Giant Pacific will only attack if it feels provoked or intimidated. Attacks from octopuses are incredibly rare, these animals would more often flee than attack.

It’s important to remember that octopuses are wild animals and need to be treated with respect, if you abide by these rules then there is little danger being around an octopus in the wild.

Is An Octopus Dangerous To Touch?

Yes, it is certainly dangerous to touch an octopus or get too close to one. Many species of octopus are incredibly small, so trying to handle one could be seen as threatening and provoke a bite.

As mentioned earlier, the blue-ringed octopus is tiny, so trying to handle this octopus can be threatening and leave you with a deadly bite.

It’s worth noting that most small animals in the ocean that have stunning colors are toxic. It’s nature’s way of saying “don’t mess with me, I’m toxic”.

The blue-ringed octopus is no different, and whilst sometimes they will allow you to touch them and crawl across your hand, the instant they feel threatened they will bite, so don’t risk it!

Some people have been bitten by this species before and have been incredibly lucky to survive. The venom blocks the nerves that are responsible for breathing in humans, with is more often than not deadly.

Some lucky people have been known to survive by being put on a ventilator within 15 minutes of a bite, but you don’t want to risk it and are best staying out of harm’s way when it comes to venomous octopuses.

For your own safety, do not try to touch a wild octopus, and always ensure you admire marine wildlife from a distance.

Why Would An Octopus Attack A Human?

It’s incredibly rare to be attacked by an octopus, and whilst they do have the ability to seriously harm humans, no fatal or even harmful attacks have been recorded.

An octopus will usually only attack a human if it feels threatened, intimidated, or provoked, but they are more likely to flee the scene than attack.

Trying to touch or hold an octopus could also provoke an attack, so it’s best not to get too close to these animals in the wild.

Being attacked by an octopus is certainly the stuff of nightmares and some attacks, although rare have been verified.

For example, a 240 pounds Pacific Octopus that was perfectly camouflaged attacked a diver by wrapping its tentacles around the diver and the camera.

Luckily the diver was able to release the grip of the octopus tentacles before the animal was able to bite, which could have led to much worse injuries than a few nightmares in the weeks after.

Final Thoughts

Are octopus dangerous? For the most part, no, provided they are treated with the space and respect they deserve.

Octopuses have no interest in attacking us humans, they are highly intelligent and well aware that we are not prey.

However, there are some species such as the blue-ringed octopus that are highly toxic and capable of killing humans in one bite.

For this reason, octopuses should be admired from a distance as all octopuses contain venom and all can leave a nasty bite.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this post and have learned something new today about why some octopuses can be more dangerous than others.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article and feel free to stick around to learn more about octopuses and other marine life.