Octopus mating

Do Octopus Kill Their Mates?

Octopus matingOctopus has evolved brains and long tentacles, which shows that they are both intelligent and deadly, but when it comes to mating, things take a strange turn.

Octopus can kill their mate, especially the bigger and longer female, which strangles the male octopus and kill it. They do it by wrapping their tentacles around the male mantle, cutting them off of fresh water intake, thus suffocating them.

Although octopuses are highly intelligent, they also resort to some of nature’s most brutal activities. For example, mating can be a dangerous game for the male octopus.

Why Octopus Kills Their Mate?

Well, for most parts, the female is bigger than the male, and the male that comes for mating is like an easy meal for the octopus. So after mating, they get to have a meal. However, the male octopus tries to escape and is always careful during mating. But even being cautious doesn’t help because this female octopus traps the male octopus very carefully.

The male may not even be aware that the female will strangle. The attack starts abruptly. The female goes close to the male reducing the distance and then starts to strangle, and within 2 minutes, the male octopus loses its breath. The female octopus eats their mate after killing it. These provide them with nutrition. This is probably the most risk-free meal that the female can get. It is like the lunch is coming directly to her den.

Inexperienced Octopus Are At More Risk

Young and inexperienced octopuses are at more risk of getting killed by their mate. If the female octopus is not young, but the male is young, then the chances are that the female octopus will try to eat the male octopus once they are done mating. The problem here is that the male octopus won’t even realize it unless it’s too late for the male octopus. So young, inexperienced and small octopuses are at the most significant risk.

Why Do Female Octopus Die After Giving Birth?

female octopusAlthough the female octopus may kill and eat the male octopus during mating after giving birth, the female octopus also tends to lose their life. It’s because of rapid changes in the hormone that lead to the female’s demise. Giving birth creates massive hormonal changes in all living beings, but the octopus cannot tolerate that. As a result, they end up dying.

Octopus are cannibals, and the older octopuses can attack the baby octopus. While dying, the female octopus releases certain chemicals in the water that stop predators. Also, certain death prevents the predators from coming near the baby octopus, helping them mature. The female octopus also releases nutrients that help to nurture its baby. It looks brutal, but that’s how the octopus has evolved, and evolution has taught them this is the perfect way to increase their survivability.

Now, if you consider the self-sacrificing behavior of the female octopus, you’ll understand why they end up killing their mate after mating.

Does Male Octopus Try To Escape Their Death?

Like every other organism, male octopus also tries to escape their death. However, it’s pretty tricky once the male gets strangled. The only way to escape from the hands of a female octopus is when the male octopus can identify the threat and move away without completing the mating ritual. Some males can sense the danger, and some males have the experience of dealing with the threat.

As mentioned earlier, they have well-developed brains and learn from their experiences. If a male octopus can survive certain death, then the male octopus will learn the lesson from it, which can help them mate in the future. However, even with experience, the male octopus may not always be successful.

The female is more significant than the male, and if the male tries to avoid the strangulation, there will be a fight between the male and the female, which will be very difficult for the male to escape. However, if the male can sense the danger early on, the male octopus might survive and complete the mating ritual, but the chances are slim.

Can Male Octopus Kill The Female Octopus?

In most cases, no, because the females are usually more significant than the males. The male approaches the female when the male is planning to mate. However, in some cases, the male can kill the female. If the female attacks the male during the mating process and if the male is comparable to the size of the female then there may be some chance for the male. In the process, the male might end up killing the female. Although the chances are very slim, but it can happen.

Can Camouflage Help The Male Octopus From Getting Killed?

If the male is too close to the female, it can be difficult for the male to escape from the female tentacles even with camouflage. However, if the female is on a chase and the male octopus decides to camouflage and hide, then the male octopus might have some chance of surviving.

If any male tries to attack the female’s den, it can get troublesome for the male as the female octopus is very protective of its babies, and the female will do whatever it takes to protect them. Sometimes the female starts a fight against a big predator if the predator is after its babies. This protective instinct helps the babies to survive. However, the female dies shortly after giving birth, so the babies are on their own.

How Long Do Octopus Live If They Don’t Mate?

Male octopuses can live much longer when they don’t mate. The lifespan of octopus varies from species to species. Common octopus tends to die earlier, whereas giant octopus lives much longer. On average, the common octopus lives for two years, whereas the giant octopus can live for 3-5 years. This is the average lifespan that they live if they don’t mate.

Apart from mating, various factors, like the environment and predators, can also determine an octopus’s lifespan. The same species of octopus can die much earlier than the same species living in a proper environment. If the environment is not adequate, i.e. if there are a lot of predators that eat octopus, there is not enough food, then the lifespan can get significantly reduced.

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