Miracle Of Life: Do Octopuses Lay Eggs?

do octopus lay eggs

Octopuses are perhaps the most alien-like animals that inhabit our planet, with 3 hearts, 9 brains, and blue blood, they are certainly different from most animals on earth.

They are invertebrates, which means they lack a backbone, but they also have no skeletal system either, which allows them to squeeze into the smallest spaces in search of food.

If you’ve ever wondered how octopuses give birth and do octopuses lay eggs? Then you’re in the right place, as today we’re going to discuss exactly that.

In a nutshell, yes octopuses do lay eggs, but the amount of eggs a mother lays depends largely on the species. The Giant Pacific Octopus for example will lay between 20,000 and 100,000 eggs at a time.

Does An Octopus Lay Eggs Or Give Birth?

Female octopuses lay eggs in the thousands which they weave together and guard with their lives to ensure the survival of their species.

The only purpose in life for octopuses is to reproduce, which is why both male and female octopuses die shortly after reproduction.

This seems like nature’s way of restoring balance, if they did not there would likely be octopuses overcrowding our oceans as they lay so many eggs.

Female octopuses spend months caring for and protecting their eggs, they often lay them in a den or on coral and then proceed to keep the eggs safe from predators.

During these months, the female octopus does not leave the eggs for one second, she gently wafts water against them and keeps them clean so that they get a constant supply of oxygenated water.

This means that she doesn’t eat, move or do anything other than guard her eggs. By the point in which the eggs hatch, the mother is near starvation and shortly after perish.

Why Do Female Octopuses Die After Birth?

When a mother octopus lays her eggs, she remains by their side without eating, slowing starving herself to death.

Towards the end, sometimes mother octopuses will even start to tear off their own skin and eat the tips of their tentacles.

Now scientists know why this happens. It’s to do with a gland located in between the octopus’s eyes known as the optic gland.

In 1977, researchers removed this gland from a mother octopus and found that once removed, she abandoned her eggs, started feeding again, and went on to live much longer.

The maturation of the reproductive organs appears to be driven by secretions from the optic gland. These same secretions appear to inactivate the digestive and salivary glands, which lead to the octopus starving to death.

It seems to be a pre-programmed behavior that may be a way to prevent mother octopuses from feeding on their own eggs, ensuring their survival.

How Many Eggs Do Octopuses Lay?

The amount of eggs that an octopus lays is largely going to depend on the species, and with over 300 different species of octopus, the quantity of eggs varies.

The Giant Pacific Octopus as mentioned earlier will lay typically between 20,000 to 100,000 eggs, but some octopuses can lay as many as 200,000 eggs.

Although these numbers seem extraordinarily high, they are crucial for the survival of octopus species as they are semelparous creatures, which means they die after they reproduce.

They also have a short life span, often only between 1 and 2 years depending on the species with only one shot at reproduction, meaning it’s difficult for them to ensure the survival of their young.

Octopuses are some of the most intelligent animals in our oceans, with a large brain-to-body ratio they are notorious for their problem-solving and human facial recognition.

Whilst their reproductive process may be saddening, it’s necessary and helps you to appreciate the flow of nature.

What Are Octopus Eggs Called?

Octopus eggs do not actually have a specific name. However, newly hatched octopuses are called larvae, and then they develop into hatchlings or fry.

The newborn octopi once born are tiny, but do not rely on their mother for support and require no maternal care.

They go out into the world and fend for themselves as soon as they are born. Newborn octopuses must grow incredibly fast, they come out at night to feast on crabs, clams, sea stars, and more.

Every two or three months young octopus double their weight until they reach their full potential where they often become dominant predators, as is the case with the Giant Pacific Octopus.

Where Do Octopus Lay Their Eggs?

There is no specific place where octopuses lay their eggs, but they will often look for a safe space, usually in a den or amongst seaweed to provide constant cover from predators.

They need to ensure that their eggs are hidden and that they can also stay safe whilst staying with their eggs until they hatch.

Octopus eggs incubate over a 2 to 10-month period depending on the species and water temperature, so it has to be in a spot that is safe and not temporary.

Final Thoughts

So, do octopuses lay eggs? Absolutely. These highly intelligent animals can lay up to 200,000 eggs at a time to ensure the survival of their species.

The amount of eggs an octopus mother lays is going to depend on the species. The Giant Pacific Octopus lays anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 eggs, whilst the Greater Blue-Ringed Octopus lays between 50 to 100.

Octopuses are some of the most fascinating animals on earth, with mothers protecting their eggs until the very end, eventually dying from starvation.

Both males and females die shortly after reproduction, which seems to be a pre-programmed way to ensure control over the octopus populations as a whole.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this post today and have learned a thing or two about octopuses laying eggs and their reproduction process.

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