I left the light on (accidentally) that is near Puddles tank tonight. It doesn't shine directly into the tank but does give enough light for me to see inside. I don't ever remember seeing Puddles out if this light is on but tonight she was either very hungry or decided it was time to come out anyway. Since she was tollerating some light I decided to try a few photos. Not great results but better than I have been able to get.
Puddles is the first octopus that I have regularly fed by hand. I have avoided hand feeding because I did not want my hand assoiciated with food but was never sure if feeding this way would actually result in the anticipated problem. It seems that it might as the last few times I have put my hand in the tank she approaches and grabs (grabbing for Puddles is not very insistent, she does not exert much suction or strength) my finger with multiple arms in the same way she takes a shrimp from my fingers. She even pulls on the finger a little but only slight resistence causes her to release it. Today was fast day but I thawed her a shrimp and she came up to get it without much hesitation. Prior to giving her the food, she would push my fingers away but once she had her piece of shrimp she allowed me to pet her mantle for a few seconds before slowly moving off to a corner to eat alone.
I left the light under the staircase on again tonight to see if Puddles would come out in spite of the light. She did and was willing to play a bit. She let me pet her between the eyes and reminded me of a cat (as did Beldar). Puddles closed her eyes and just sat still as long as I would pet her.
She came out later and was being her normal puddle on the wall so I put the camera around my neck (to prevent it falling into the tank), woke her up and tried using my left hand to hold the camera and fire while she slipped through my fingers. Try this mentally, keeping in mind that all cameras are designed to be held in the right hand. Add the fact that I could not see where I was aiming and you will excuse the picture quality. I think I will attach the tripod and remote firing chord tomorrow (why they left off the wireless remote on this camera I just don't understand, most of the lower end models have that ability). At least the photos give a size reference with my hand to show how tiny he has remained.
Puddles continues to be more receptive to petting and play periods can last up to an hour. She is a lot like Beldar in that the underside of her mantle seems to want to be "scratched" and she likes to be squeeze between my fingers. When she no longer wants to play she normally goes off to a dark corner in the LR but last night she just curled up on the glass in her "puddle" formation. I let her sleep and played a little with Sleazy and took some photos. I was about to go to bed when who should move to the middle of her tank and be waving her arms but this silly little one so I played with her a little longer. She did not want a lot of petting but came to my hand and then started hunting (not like when she expects food. On feeding days she reaches beak first for my fingers, never biting and never grabbing but makes it known she wants food, otherwise she touches me with an arm or her mantle). I grabbed the camera to try to get picture of her arms entwined in the LR but was too late to get the image showing her arms actually coming out of some of the holes. If you really look closely you can see one arm down inside the rock where it looks something like a barnacle with a round hole.
I am convinced that when she goes into her puddle stance, she is sleeping even though I see her eyes slightly open. I have to be careful not to startle her if she is curled up like this or she will get startled and swim away (the only time I see her swim as she usually crawls).
It appears that one of her back arms (#4 right side I think, hard to tell the way she move them around) came in contact with something that severed it. She sticks her arms well into the LR so I don't know if she tried this with one of the Koralias or if she could have cut it on the LR itself. This is the shortest and thinnest pair but it is obviously shortened and the end is truncated and has no new growth so it must have happened in the last two days.
She may be a he but I just can't tell for sure. The third arm to the right is shorter than the other arms (or was until the new truncation) and may have an odd tip (all the tips have a pointy look and I can't see this one well enough to tell if it is different but I am sure it is shorter than the third arm to the left and is not recently truncated). Puddles has not grown much at all since arriving but has not shown any signs of brooding so I am hoping that this combined with the shorter arm means a male octo (there are no enlarged suckers).
On the subject of koralias, I just added one to Ollies tank. I wondered if he could possibly loose an arm tip by accidently polking at it, knowing their hunting style. I put the koralia on the same timer as my lights. I figure he is usually not out and actively hunting with the lights on. Have you heard of many amputations from koralias? Sorry to hear about Puddles. Your photos interacting with him/her are amazing. You have a way with them, they seem to trust and take to you. I think you are the octopus whisperer.
With more experience, I may steal that for my signature
If only she would play before 2:00 AM! Maybe I should not be wishing that though as it would be a sign of the end is past experience holds.
I have used Koralias in all my larger octo tanks (larger Octos that is) without a problem and you may remember the post where I discovered KaySoh actually using it as a grooming aid so I don't worry about them with the larger guys. Puddles puts her arms in a lot of odd places (the overflow box is not tight to the walls and she will put several in the small crack between them - possibly hunting pods) I have a piece of acrylic (unsanded) placed to hamper her climbing through the overflow grid (on the back side) that might be sharp enough to cut so I am still not sure where she put the arm to cause the damage. I think one of the Koralias in that tank is also missing the front grid - they are positioned to try to prevent curious fingers so I can't see them but will take the grid from of one in KaySoh's tank if this is the case.
Puddles is hitting the high point of an interactive octopus. Unfortunately, this phase does not last as long as one would like but it enamors you to them for life (yours). This animal and her cousin Beldar (not certain if they are the same species) are both extremely gentle animals. When she expects food she will come to my hand beak first but whether I have food or not, she never grabs. If I have a piece of shrimp, she just takes it very gently from my fingers and will keep an arm on my finger for a couple of seconds while she positions it under her webbing but she does not attach to me with her suckers at all.
Puddles has been squishing though my fingers for a week or so but I had to move my hand to pet her or surround her so she could slowly do her squish through pet (no real pressure but she kind of slowly pulls herself through only going as far as to get her mantle to the other side and then waits to be tickled or resurrounded. Tonight she discovered she could go back into my hand by herself so she spent half an hour or more going back and fourth. I use a red flashlight to see her and she is not crazy about it (but does not react like she does with white light). The top of the tank has a 3" black band surrounding the tank and she often plays in that darkened area so I really can't see her too well and have had to learn to trust her as much as she trusts me. The extreme gentleness of this animal is really quite amazing.
I remember Beldar discovering she could make me go away (I always try to come up with something they do naturally and use it to let them signal me they have had enough. Since it is a natural action you can't really call it learning but they do understand what it means and remember. I think that is called conditioning). Bel had me getting up and down for 2 full hours and I am not sure which of us was having the most fun. Puddles didn't show the same kind of enthusiasm but she did repeatedly go through my fingers and then return through the presented hole many times tonight.
If she is typical of what I have observed with starting a new interaction, she will likely not want to play for a couple of days now and then will suddenly remember and continue with the routine.
Puddles is eating well and seems to want to eat every other night but has "asked" for food two nights in a row this week. I can't detect any growth from when she came so I still believe she is full grown. Hopefully the increased food intake is not a sign she is ready to start developing eggs though. So far, there is no mantle swelling like I noticed in Bel before she started brooding. I am really hoping Puddles is male but only time will tell as the arm never hold still long enough to get a good look in the dim light.
Puddles is my second in the Macropus complex and both have learned to accept human interaction with zeal. They would be terrific (particularly one Puddles' size) aquarium animals if they would adapt to daylight. Sadly, this has only occured just before death (like the mercs) and I have yet to come up with creating a reverse daylight room
I did not see Puddles last night and tonight she acted very strangely and was initially making it clear she wanted nothing to do with me by swimming away (she rarely swims) but she would come back immediately to the front in almost a taunting gesture. Ultimately she came for some petting but did not repeat the back into the hand maneuver (maybe once but not repeatedly). She also "stuck" to my fingers once and she never uses her suckers to play with my hand (she is so delicate that when she sticks, you are barely aware of it, not like other octos. Even the mercs have a very strong suction). I had offered food earlier and she was not interested so I just chalk it up to the unusual way they seem to learn.