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Cuttlefish
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The cuttlefish is a marine animal that has eight arms, two tentacles, and a soft body. It is a cephalopod, a fast-swimming, intelligent mollusk that can change its skin color and spew ink in the water to confuse predators. The cuttlefish swims by using its fins and by spewing water from its body (a type of jet propulsion). The cuttlefish is nocturnal; it hunts during the night, and it hides and rests during the day. It has a life span of about 18 months.

Anatomy: Cuttlefish average about 1 ft (30 cm) long. Cuttlefish have eight arms and two tentacles that surround the mouth and beak; the tentacles are often kept in a pouch under the eyes. The body of the cuttlefish (the cuttle) is flattened and has fins that extend along the entire length of the mantle. The skin changes both color and pattern to mimic the environment. Chromatophores in the skin change the skin's color. The cuttlebone is a gas-filled shell inside the mantle that lets the cuttlefish regulate its buoyancy (the ability to float or sink). Cuttlebones are used as calcium supplements for pet birds and for polishing silver (when powdered).

Diet: Cuttlefish eat fish, small mollusks (snails, clams, other cuttlefish, etc.), worms, crabs, and shrimp. Prey are killed with a venomous bite fom the beak.

Predators and Protection: The cuttlefish is eaten by sharks, fish and other cuttlefish. In order to escape predators, a cuttlefish can squirt black ink into the water, allowing it to escape. Another defense that cuttlefish have is changing their skin color to blend into the background, camouflaging themselves.

Classification: Phylum Animalia, Class Cephalopoda, Subclass Coleoidea, Order Sepiida (Cuttlefish)



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