How Long Can an Octopus Live Out of Water?

Octopuses are super-intelligent but utterly strange cephalopods. And it seems to represent everything sinister and intriguing about the deep blue sea.

They have a very mysterious body with more than 100 suckers on each arm, large eyes, and different anatomy. Among a lot of mysterious things, one of the fascinating things is that they can live in and out of the water.

Isn’t that a bit confusing? They are born to live in saltwater, but if they need it, they can live without water. But not for too long.

Then how long can an octopus live out of water?

At maximum, they can survive out of the water for 20 to 30 minutes. However, depending on the size and species, this timespan may vary.

If you’re interested in these things, then you’ve found the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss it. Alongside, you’ll discover many other interesting facts.

So, without wasting any time let’s get started.

How Long Can an Octopus Live Out Of Water?

You’ll find octopuses in the saltwater mostly. Having said that, if you take an octopus out of the water, it won’t survive. However, the time it survives will depend on its size and the adaptability it has to the new environment.

But in most cases, an octopus won’t survive more than 20 to 30 minutes out of water. This fact was discovered by a biologist called Ken Halanych.

Octopus  live out of water

Octopuses are one of the smartest marine creatures. They can breathe oxygen through their gills like many other fishes. Now the question is how?

Basically, their gills help them to breathe. They pass the wave of water using their gills. And during that passing, they absorb oxygen from water. In this process, they need another organ, which is a siphon. Through this tube-like organ, they exhale oxygen.

However, if you think they intake oxygen through their gills only then, you’ll be surprised to know that they can take oxygen through their skin too.

Their moist skin will help them to breathe through passive diffusion. Because octopuses’ gills collapse when they’re not submerged in water, they can’t breathe when they’re on land.

A lack of water causes these creatures to dry out and perish since they can no longer take in oxygen. Finding food is thus a matter of taking a risk with one’s life.

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Over forty percent of an octopus’ oxygen needs are satisfied via gas exchange through its skin with the surrounding water when it is at rest. The percentage of oxygen absorbed by the skin lowers to below 30% when it is swimming or otherwise actively moving.

After eating, an octopus’s skin’s ability to absorb oxygen drops to its lowest level. During digestion, oxygen absorption declines to single digits even in a motionless state. The percentage can dip to 3% occasionally.

Can Octopus Live Without Water?

As already said, octopuses have a basic respiratory system. They take the help of gills and skin in the process. And the most important fact is that they don’t have any lungs.

With that being said, as they have no lungs, they won’t survive on the land for more than a few minutes. To be specific, they can’t breathe oxygen from the air.

Even if you take them out of their natural habit or place, they will die in a few minutes, or at maximum, they can survive for one hour, not more than that. However, surviving for almost 1 hour is a rare scenario.

What Will Happen If You Take an Octopus Out Of Water?

The octopus will die, and the answer is as simple as that. Basically, they belong to the mollusk family, and they love to be in the saltwater. As a result, they’ll die in the freshwater.

Moreover, osmoregulation is a chemical process that helps in balancing the salt level in the body. That’s why their cells will lose water through osmosis if you take them out of the water for too long.

Do Octopus Crawl or Walk on Land?

Octopuses have three hearts that help them to pump blood to the gills. And the heart will keep pumping to flow the blood in the whole body.

But surprisingly, when octopuses swim in the sea, their heart will stop beating. And that causes them a lot of pain. This is one of the reasons that they prefer crawling over swimming.

Even though they crawl to ease their pain sometimes, they seem to walk near the shore. This happens when they search for food.

That’s why if you see an octopus walking on the beach, don’t try to touch them. It’ll frighten them, and they may bite you. So, it’s better to leave them in their condition.

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Do An Octopus Feel Pain If You Take It Out of the Water?

Octopuses are certainly one of the smart marine creatures you’ll find. If you compared them to other sea animals, you’d be able to see the differences.

According to a San Francisco study, octopuses can feel pain both physically and emotionally. In that regard, if you take them out of the water for a very long period of life, they’ll feel physical pain.

How Long Can an Octopus Live Out of Water

And doing that to a living creature will be very inhuman behavior. That’s why before taking them out of the water make sure to create a place according to their requirements.

Why Does an Octopus Need Moisture To Survive?

You have probably seen octopuses in a tank at some point. They are commonly displayed in marine life centers, zoos, and aquariums.

Since most people need to keep track of their age, it can be difficult to estimate how long they can survive without water. They only have a three-year maximum lifespan when released into the wild. But that lifespan can be extended to four years with proper care in captivity.

Though many octopus species make great pets and can be taught to do tricks. But others cannot be maintained successfully outside their natural environment due to their large size. Because octopuses take in oxygen through gills under their arms on either side of their head instead of their lungs, maintaining an appropriate humidity level is crucial to their well-being.

Can You Keep an Octopus In An Aquarium?

You can put an octopus in an aquarium. But this won’t be a good idea. The reason is they are not fish. They can breathe air from the environment. And if you take them out of the water for too long, they will die due to dehydration.

Moreover, in some cases, octopuses are also able to survive for more than an hour if they are kept with enough moisture content.

Additionally, octopuses live in deep water levels. So as soon as they come in contact with the land, they search for oxygen. But an octopus won’t breathe in the open air like us humans.

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What they will do instead is they will be keen for more moisturized weather so that they can breathe by their skin.

Now, returning to the main thing, it can be kept in an aquarium. From the previous discussion, it’s clear that wherever you place an octopus, the first thing it’ll need moisture to survive.

So if you can ensure that environment, you can keep an octopus in an aquarium. To make the exact humidity of the ocean, you can use a pair of wet sponges and moss inside the aquarium.

Even more, you can place a humidifier near the aquarium so that it keeps the aquarium environment moisturized.

With this method, enough moisture is reintroduced into the surroundings to prevent sogginess, and maintain a pleasant aroma is maintained even if no condensation forms on the walls or windows.


Is the octopus capable of living on land?

An octopus can potentially live for many minutes on land if the conditions are just right. Because of their gills, octopuses need to be submerged in water in order to breathe. When a fish is brought to shore, its buoyancy is lost, and its gills collapse.

How long does an octopus typically live?

It’s estimated that the average lifespan of an octopus is only six months. Of the two largest octopus species, the Giant Pacific Octopus has a potential lifespan of up to five years.

Can an octopus make a living on land?

Aculeatus is “the sole land octopus” since it lives on beaches and hunts for crabs by wandering from tidal pool to tidal pool. While several mollusks are capable of short-distance land crawling, only octopuses do it as a matter of course.


So how long can an octopus live out of the water? Hopefully, you already know the answer from the above discussion. The next time someone asks you about that hopefully you’ll enlighten them from the knowledge of this article.

But it’s better to leave them in their natural habitat. However, if you ever see an octopus suffering on the beach, call the marine rescue team as soon as possible. Don’t try to do anything if you don’t have enough knowledge.

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