Squids are carnivorous predators that primarily prey on fish, crustaceans and other squid. Because squid vary greatly in size – some species are less than 1 inch in length, while others exceed 30 feet in length – their specific prey preferences differ markedly from one species to the next. Some squid hunt by chasing down their prey, while others hide and lie in wait for food to swim past them.
Squids capture prey with their tentacles. Each tentacle is covered in thousands of small sucker disks, which help the creatures get a grip on their slippery prey. Once the prey has been grasped securely, they pull the food item towards their beak-like mouths. The beaks tear the prey into small pieces, enabling the squids to swallow the food. Most species have venom glands located in their heads along with ducts that lead to the beak. This venom is used to incapacitate prey as well as for defense.
Although they resemble squids and are called “vampire squids,” the species known as Vampyroteuthis infernalis is not a squid at all. Fittingly, these unique cephalopods have a different diet than true squids do. Vampire squids consume small bits of organic matter that drift down to the dark depths at which they live, rather than hunting live prey.