Maya has been stellar! She is now coming out earlier and staying out later. She has come to my finger dressed in drab (vs aggressive yellow) accepted petting left and returned for more. Today she would not come to the glass even with my hand outside but I find this typical and she should resume in a week or so. We have a multi-colored geodesic looking ball that I have tried with most of the octos with little success but this time we tied it to a plastic ice cube so that it almost floats. There is a zip tie that points to the center and we have been putting shrimp on the tie so that is suspends in the middle of the ball. It has taken her several trips to investigate the ball to find the shrimp (the piece inside does not resemble anything edible visually so she pretty much has to touch it to realize it is something to eat). Today when I walked by the tank, she went over to the ball and started crawling on it, poking her arms in the holes (very large holes, not at all opaque). At suppertime Neal said it took her about 4 seconds to come to the ball after it was baited with the shrimp. It still took her several exits and returns to find the shrimp and pull it off the tie but we feel sure she is associating the ball with food we present to here. The question is, "Was she saying she wanted food when she climbed on the ball as I walked by?". Very cools stuff.
She reexcavated the unused den that I videoed last week, pulled in a snail shell and later found a chunk of coral for a door and has moved in for the night. One of the serpents is busily cleaning her other den. She seems to be changing dens about once a week. She prepared this one last week but did not occupy it. More observations to ponder.
If she does start brooding soon I know I will cry as she reminds me so much of Octane and I want lots of time with her.
Sorry that I have no photos. My wonderful camera has a jammed trigger and is on its way back to Canon. It was a Xmas present last year but was purchased in September so we are keeping our fingers crossed that they will warranty the problem.
Maya did move into the den she reexcavated. It is in a nice location right at the front of the aquarium so we can see her easily when she is not out and about. Apparently she decided the den did not afford enough privacy but wanted to stay. After collecting the near by shells and a small piece of LR she still was not satisfied and went across the tank to her old home to retreive its door. Fortunately, I had activated my old Minolta DiMage Z1 (is does not take the best of aquiarium photos but the aquarium movies are half decent) and it was sitting on the table. I missed the beginning of the door retrieval but did get the camera quickly enough to video her dragging the piece of coral across the tank to her new home. For one reason or another the SD card would not read in my computer but the camera and printer could get to the .MOV file. The propriatary USB cord has vanished but with a lot of patience and unprintable words finally got the computer to acknowledge the card on the printer and transferred the video.
It was interesting to think about whether she went to the old den just to pick up the door or if she was looking for something and spotted it. I would venture that she had that piece of coral in mind when she started across the tank because her movement was with enough purpose that I noticed it and stopped to watch. The trip back to the den showed the same sense of purpose but in one place she seems to want to take it up over the rocks then changes her mind and drags it directly home.
The ball attached to a plastic ice cube that you see at the end of the video is her dining hall. We put a piece of shrimp in side the ball (there is a zip tie attached) and she has to get it out. It looks very simple but it took her a couple of days to figure it out. She seems to see the ice cube better than the ball. When she knows we are adding food, she will climb on the ice cube first and then feel around in the ball to locate the shrimp, almost as if she can't see it. Once she locates it she has to determine how to get it off the zip tie and out of the ball. Like all octos, she would like to keep the "stick" and it won't come out. Additionally she puts her arms through multiple holes and has to figure out how to manuver the shrimp around the plastic. I will try to get a video tomorrow.
I like to go back and look at her videos too and get the same reaction from watching Situ and Situ Two's videos as well.
I have my fingers crossed daily that Maya is a youngster and will not brood on me soon. She is growing and when I compared the sizes during acclimation (I used the same critter keeper) Maya is at least twice the size of Serendipity. There is a good chance she came from Haiti and the little scientific literature I have found suggests the hummelincki found there are larger the one collected elsewhere but my other three were collected in different areas of the Keys. Additionally, she has exhibited some behavior that is attributed to young octos that are not yet sexually mature (specifically the dukes up fighting pose and the extreme color changes).
I have been putting off posting this, just in case, but I am 98% sure Maya will be locking herself in soon. In addition to the larger piece of coral she has brought to her den, she has collected every snail shell she had placed near the other dens and has them guarding the smaller entrance holes.
She has become anti-social and will "blow" at us from her den (she had been coming out to greet us before last week). She is still coming out occassionally and tonight actually came up to the glass and over to my finger but her mantle has changed drastically in the last week. It looks so heavy and whitish at the end that she moves like it is pulling her off the glass. I don't even try to take stills with my Minolta because it just can't focus into the tanks (Canon comes back on Monday thankfully) so I won't likely get a photo before she stops coming out all together.
She is still eating but pushed away her normal shrimp tonight. She did go after the crab but she is almost acting senescent and fidgits constantly with the rocks she collected for her doorway as well as the shells she has stacked. When she does come out she seems to have pent up energy and does not know what to do with it but does not stay out long.
I am beginning to think that the change in environment may cause female octopuses to begin brooding soon after they enter an aquarium. I will try to spend some time going back over the info I have collected for our octpus list and see if there seems to be suggestion of a timing for this but my guess is 4-6 weeks is all we may get for most females before they start brooding and it may not have to do with age. I know enviornment changes (particulary water temperatures) can induce mating in seahorses and spawning in other animals so it would not be surprising if the changes that an octopus goes through during shipping and tank acclimation cause the biological process to start. I had so hoped my initial thought was wrong . I hope she has stored sperm so that I might at least have a go at the hatchlings but I am afraid she is still quite young and may not have mated.
Maya continues to eat (somewhat begrudgingly) and collect things for her doorway. I added a few small loose pieces of LR after she had collected all that I had originally put into the tank as well as moving the rather large piece she had originally hauled to the old den (the new location is almost 4' from the old den). There is one piece of old dead coral still in the front of the tank but she seems to have noticed that one of the gorgonians was mounted on a small rock. My son started urging me to turn around during supper claiming she was "taking" it. At first I though she was just climbing over it but then realized what he had seen. She had picked it up and was intent on having it for a den door. My camera came back today (THANK YOU CANON!!!) and I took the time to put everything back together so it was close enough at hand to get a partial video of the redecorating process.
Her little antics would be so funny if I could stop thinking about what they mean.
Eventually, she brought the base of the gorgonian inside so I decided I would try to rescue it. Neal suggested "trading" since Haggs had some success with that idea with Situ Two. First I offered a lightweight but relatively large snail shell (FW I think but it has been in a marine enviornment for several years). She took the shell but that left 7 arms to continue to secure the gorgonian so I went hunting for something else. The second item was also a snail shell but much heaftier. Between offerings, I pulled at the gorgonian slightly. She pushed the gorgonian to the front but I don't know if that was more to block my offering or to be prepared to release it. I was able to take it away from her and she accepted the second shell but pushed the first out of the den. Ultimately, both snail shells ended up as den doors but I forgot to take a picture before the lights went out. I will finish the series tomorrow if she has them in place.