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Enrichment and Toys...

Nov 19, 2007

I am working at Melbourne Aquarium in Australia and am trying to start an enrichment program for our resident octopus. Does anyone have any ideas or pictures of enrichment techniques, interesting feeding methods, toys or puzzles which may interest an octopus?
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Hi and welcome to TONMO.com!

There is a lot about enrichment on this site. I have read about octopuses being offered dog toys (with no metal), Mr. Potato Head (from the Seattle Aquarium) to take apart, various boxes and puzzles with crabs in them, Lego blocks, etc.

At least that's a start for you!

As far as toys are concerned, I'll throw in my :twocents:... small octos will interact and play with baby toys.
Find toys of 100% plastic composition, like teething rings and building bocks.
My O. Briareus plays with a few different toys designed for kids ages 6months to 3 years old.

I cannot speak from personal experience :old: with feeding type puzzles, however, there are many mentions of placing food inside of a jar and allowing the octo to figure out how to get to it. You would want an all plastic jar and lid, like a penutbutter jar. Drill holes in it and do not tighten the lid to tight. It is said that over time, the octo will familiarize itself with the jar and become quicker at achieving its goal.

You could then changle up the type of container, such as a tupper-ware type container opposed to a screw on lid... Or put a jar in a jar... This should keep the octo "occupied"...
Joefish84 recommends fishing lures as well, scroll down for the exact types:

the great escape

of course, only ones without hooks and metal rings.
Because "enrichment" cannot be quantitatively verified, as of yet, the best form of "enrichment" is live food. This allows the animal to react as it would in the wild. If you are looking for things to do that will also be a positive guest interaction device then what you are suggesting with "toys" would be good for the guests, I presume.

No one can say that an octopus enjoys having to unscrew a lid to get its food... Frankly it really irritates me when I cannot twist off some of those caps.:coffee:

Pm me Mark Rehling at Cleveland Metropark zoo has put together an enrichment handbook for octopus, which has sourced ideas from all round the world. I'll give you his email addy!

We don't use any artificial enrichment as such but provide live food, rocks etc so they can aquascape, they also interact with the staff. We keep Pinnoctopus cordiformis and Octopus warringa/huttoni. Sometimes we add in the odd fishing buoy or a mussel line.

Long Beach California aquarium

I was recently down in Long Beach CA, and saw they have a decent sized octo, and some actual literature about toys they use to stimulate their octo right next to the exhibit.

It's quite a user-friendly aquarium, so I'd expect they'd be happy to discuss with you their experiences. (they also have a touch tank for sharks/rays similar to that at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay shark tank).

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