Outside The Comfort Zone: Can Octopuses Live On Land?

can octopuses live on land

Octopuses are surprising us more and more every year. They are incredibly intelligent animals that are capable of problem-solving, recognizing faces, and feeling emotions.

These alien-like creatures have adapted to life in our oceans over millions of years, but can Octopuses live on land?

In a nutshell, no, Octopuses cannot live on land. However, it’s not unheard of Octopuses to come out of the water as they can survive for typically between 20 – 30 minutes on land.

Can Octopuses Really Live On Land?

Although Octopuses cannot live on land, they are able to come onto land for short periods of time.

These animals breathe in the same way that fish do, by using gills. These gills extract oxygen from the water in order for them to survive.

On land, they are really gambling with their lives. Their gills collapse which means they are unable to get as much oxygen as they need to stay for long periods.

However, whilst their skin is moist and wet they can still manage to extract some oxygen through their skin, but after a while, they need to return to the water.

How Long Can An Octopus Survive Out Of Water?

Octopuses can generally survive for between 20 – 30 minutes on land before they need to return to the water.

Whilst in water, they can pump water through their gills in order to get all of the oxygen they need, whereas on land this is not possible.

Venturing onto land is incredibly risky business for Octopuses, they may be spotted by aerial predators such as birds, or could become trapped and not able to return to the ocean.

Not only that but the longer the Octopus stays out of the water, the more chance it has of permanently damaging its gills.

If the Octopus stays above water for too long, it will ultimately die.

Why Do Octopuses Go On Land?

Octopuses are marine animals that live and breathe underwater, however, at low tide, Octopuses can become imprisoned in their rock pools.

When this happens, they can venture out of their rock pools and move to other pools in order to find food.

Check out this video from the BBC of an Octopus moving between rock pools:

The good news is that Octopus’s tentacles are filled with muscles, meaning they are able to pull themselves over land rather quickly.

It usually takes around 2 – 3 minutes for Octopuses to hop between rock pools, giving them more than enough time.

These super-intelligent animals can calculate the risk distance from pool to pool and decide whether it is worth the risk to move or not.

Sometimes the risk may not be worth it, as the new pool may be empty. But sometimes they may move to a pool filled with their favorite food, crabs!

Can All Octopuses Move Over Land?

Almost all species of Octopus are able to move over land for short periods of time, with some even searching shorelines for food at night.

However, there is one species of Octopus that is no stranger to land and comes ashore more frequently than any other species of Octopus.

The Abdopus aculeatus is a species of Octopus that is often found in Northern Australia and is well known for its ability to move over land and search for food.

This Octopus is specially adapted to be able to walk across dry ground, by using its long, sucker-lined tentacles to pull itself along the shoreline to search for crabs.

How Fast Can An Octopus Move On Land?

Given that these animals are not natural land creatures, they typically move slowly across land, no faster than 5km/h.

However, when in the water, Octopuses can move at speeds of 40km/h in order to escape predators or chase after prey.

Final Thoughts

So, can Octopuses live on land? No, but they can take short trips onto land in order to search for food.

Octopuses are marine animals that are required to be in the water in order to breathe. Their gills are used to extract oxygen from the water and keep them alive.

Whilst out of the water, their gills collapse which means they are unable to breathe. They are able to temporarily extract oxygen from the water through their skin, but cannot survive out of water for over 20 minutes.

Hopefully, this post has been helpful and you’ve learned a thing or two about Octopuses traveling onto land today.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and feel free to share it with others who may find it valuable.