Important Question About Octopus Lifespan


Oct 17, 2004
I was chatting on a REEF forum and mentioned that even O vulgaris has a short life span, but somewhat longer than other octopus species.

One member stated:

"octopus in the wild would live allot longer than a year or so - the lifespan you are referring to is in consideration of being kept in a captive envioronment - this animal doesn't survive close to its full life expectancy in captivity - this is what I read."

Is the above statement true? I did not state that an octopus would live "a year or so" but the member referred to "a year or so", and states that octupus would live alot longer in captivity than in the wild.

Is this true? Of course life span will vary depending on captivity factors, but what is the wild life expectancy of O vulgaris and O bimac?

Do octopus in captivity live nowhere as long to their natural life expectancy?
Well, it depends on the species...but as a rule, not too many octos make it past two years...a year to sixteen months is more normal, or under a year for a dwarf. This is the same in the wild as in captivity...perhaps with the captive breeding programs now in place, we will see some longetivity increase...
Also, a lot of octopuses don't survive until adulthood in the wild. Maybe they'll have slightly better chances under the captive bred program in an aquarium.

I believe the longest-lived octos are in the arctic - 5 to 7 years, I've read. A bimac's lifespan is usually given as 1 to 1 1/2 years. With the wild caught bimacs last year, three of us managed to keep our bimacs until they died natural deaths at the end of their lives. We kept them for around 10 months each. I think they were about 3-4 months old when we got them.

I visited the Alaska wildlife center in Sewart this summer. They had a female GPO that was 4 yrs old on display. I took the back stage tour and also saw their 7 year old male! They said he was the largest and oldest in captivity.

That's wonderful that they can live so long. They're so intelligent - I remember thinking with my bimac, if we only had more time together! After five years we would have had a real communication system worked out. I guess that's why, sooner or later, everyone wants to keep a GPO!

in captivity the cephs gets spoiled, good feeding and good temperatures, so it really is a case of live fast die fast...

I think its fair to say that captive animals generally live shorter lives as they can become sexually mature at a much younger age.
The male GPO was so old he was loosing the ability to repair damage to his skin. The wildlife center tried to breed them and the female was with eggs at the time of my visit but none of them look fertile. I need to call and see if the male is still alive.


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