Squids have two tentacles and eight arms. The two tentacles are longer than the eight arms and only have suction cups on their ends. The tentacles are used for striking and grabbing onto prey, while the arms are for controlling the prey and stabilizing the squid while swimming. Tentacle size differs by species, but the longest ones measure 27 feet.
Squids are some of the largest predators of the oceans and seas. They are ruthless, efficient, and strong. Apart from their venom and fast speed, their limbs play a huge part in hunting.
But what do squids use their tentacles for? How big are they? What’s the difference between arms and tentacles? And how many tentacles does a squid have?
This article covers every area of squids’ limbs, including their appearance, size, use, and anatomy.
How Many Tentacles Does a Squid Have?
Squids have two tentacles. They also have eight arms. The difference between arms and tentacles is that the tentacles are fewer, bigger, used differently, and only have suction cups on their tips.
Squids have ten limbs altogether. These limbs differ in size from species to species, but they are similar in appearance and use.
These are the two types of quid limbs:
There are two tentacles on each squid. These are longer than their arms. Squids use their tentacles to catch prey and strike their adversaries. The tentacles are long, slender, and have suction cups only on the ends.
Squids have eight arms. They are similar to octopus arms and are shorter than the tentacles. The arms are used when squids handle their food or while they are swimming. They are short, narrow at the tip, and have suction cups all the way.
What Do Squid Tentacles and Arms Look Like?
Squid tentacles are generally slender except for their ends, where they have a collection of suction cups. Some species have hook-like tips on their tentacles. Arms are shorter and have suckers throughout their length.
Tentacles and arms on squids mainly differ in size. The two tentacles can be more than twice as long as the arms. In the case of the colossal squid, the arms are between 2.8 and 3.8 feet long, while their tentacles measure 6.9 feet.
Both arms and tentacles have suckers, albeit in different numbers, sizes, and placements. The suckers are calcareous, meaning they are mostly composed of calcium carbonate.
What Do Squid Tentacles Look Like?
Squid tentacles’ appearance differs from species to species. Still, they share some general characteristics:
- Club-like endings
- Suction cups with toothed rings on the club-like endings
- Generally four rows of suction cups
- Hook-like tips (in some species)
What Do Squid Arms Look Like?
Squid arms are similar in appearance to octopus arms. There are some differences between species which consist mainly of size.
Here are some general characteristics of squid arms:
- Shorter than tentacles
- Wide at the base, narrow at the tip
- Suction cups on all of their lengths
- Suction cups present only on the undersides of arms
- Generally two rows of suction cups
Arm Vs. Tentacle: What Is the Difference?
The main difference between arms and tentacles on squids is that tentacles are fewer, longer, have club-like endings, only have suction cups on the endings, and have more rows of suction cups.
While octopuses have eight arms that are all similar in size and appearance, squids have two specialized limbs in the form of tentacles. These tentacles differ on many fronts from their arms.
|Longer than arms (colossal squid: 7.5 feet)
|Shorter than tentacles (colossal squid: 2.8–3.8 feet)
|Narrow with club-like, expanded endings.
|Wide at the beginning, gradually narrower by the tip.
|Generally placed in four rows, only on the club-like endings.
|Generally placed in two rows, on the underside of the arms, all the way from the base to the tip.
Why Do Squids Have Tentacles?
Squids have tentacles to catch and strike their prey. Arms are used for holding and controlling the prey and stabilizing the squid while swimming.
Tentacles are specialized appendages that are mainly used for hunting. Some species use them as bait for prey by generating vibrations.
Although this is a testament to squids’ intelligence, not all species use their tentacles so creatively. Most species use their tentacles for the following:
What Are Squid Arms Used For?
Squid arms are less prominent than tentacles, but they are vital. Squids use them for the following:
- Holding prey
- Controlling prey
- Generating lift while swimming
- Stabilizing while swimming
Squid Tentacle Size
Tentacle size differs from species to species. As there is a huge size disparity between the smallest and largest species, the length of tentacles also greatly differs.
The smallest Thai bobtail squid is merely 0.4 inches, while the giant squid can be as large as 43 feet.
Having the longest tentacles does not mean being the biggest species. While giant squids are longer than colossal squids, much of their length is their tentacles. Giant squids rarely have mantles longer than 6.5 feet and weigh up to 606 pounds. Colossal squids could have twice as long mantles and weigh up to 1,500 pounds.
|Total Body Size
|Around 7.5 feet
|Up to 33 feet
|Up to 27 feet
|Around 3.3 feet
|Around 8.2 feet
|Around 10 inches
|Up to 26 inches
|Thai bobtail squid
|Less than 0.2 inches
|About 0.4 inches
Squid Tentacles Compared to Octopus Arms
The main difference between squid tentacles and octopus arms is size, use, and appearance. Octopus arms are shorter than squid tentacles.
Octopuses do not have tentacles, only arms of which two are used as legs and the others are used as arms. Apart from the similar-looking arms, squids have two tentacles that vastly differ from octopuses’ arms.
Here are the main differences between squid tentacles and octopus arms:
- Squid tentacles are longer.
- Squids have two tentacles, while octopuses have eight arms.
- Squid tentacles are slender with expanded endings, while octopus arms get gradually narrower by the tip.
- Squids have suckers on the end of the tentacles, while octopuses have suckers at all of their arms’ lengths.
- Squids only use their tentacles for hunting and combat, octopuses use their arms for hunting, swimming, crawling, searching, grabbing, and manipulating objects.
- Squid suckers are calcareous, while octopus suckers aren’t.
Squids have two tentacles and eight arms. Their tentacles are longer than their arms. Tentacles are narrow with club-like endings that have suckers on them. Arms are wide at the beginning and narrow at the tip, with suckers on their undersides.
Squids use their tentacles to catch and strike prey. Their arms are used for holding the prey and swimming. Tentacles vary in size from species to species. The longest tentacles belong to giant squids and measure up to 27 feet in length.
What Are Colossal Squid Hooks?
Colossal squids have hooks on their arms and the end of their tentacles. These hooks are small, calcareous structures of which the tentacle hooks can rotate 360°. These hooks are used for catching prey. There are other hooked squids than the colossal squid, mainly the family Onychoteuthidae (hooked squids).
Do Squid Tentacles Have Teeth?
Technically, squid tentacles do not have teeth, but they have similar structures. There are teeth-like calcareous rings embedded in each sucker. These are razor-sharp, serrated hoops that are used for grabbing onto the prey more effectively.
Do Squid Tentacles Grow Back?
Yes, squid tentacles grow back. Squids can regenerate their arms and tentacles after they are torn off. A species of squid, the Octopoteuthis deletron, is known to autotomize their limbs (detach them willingly) if they are threatened.