Nautilus enrichment

Discussion in 'Behavior and Intelligence' started by Perky, Nov 2, 2008.

  1. Perky

    Perky Cuttlefish Registered

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    Hi all,

    I am currently looking after a nautilus as part of my job at the local aquarium. Although I've had quite a bit of keeping octopus and subsequently enrichment I've never had the pleasure of working with a nautilus before.

    Does anyone have any suggestions in regards to maybe enriching either the little guys environment or his daily routine, I've tried a few things already but am open to suggestions
     
  2. gjbarord

    gjbarord Sepia elegans Staff Member Moderator

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    Enrichment with nautilus?? I believe that there are other things you can do that would actually benefit the animal, rather than doing some enrichment activity that will most likely be impossible to quantify.

    Why not try live food and let the animal "hunt" for it naturally?

    Greg
     
  3. Perky

    Perky Cuttlefish Registered

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    Live food might be an option and I'm up for it hunting naturally. However I'm stuck with the designs of the tank and don't get enough variation on live food.

    On a whole I'm not trying to quantify I'm just trying to make the life better for our nautilus. I feel that we don't give them enough credit they can figure out stuff a lot more than we think.
     
  4. gjbarord

    gjbarord Sepia elegans Staff Member Moderator

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    But how would you know if you are making its life better?

    Greg
     
  5. L8 2 RISE

    L8 2 RISE Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    you probably wouldn't know, but I doubt that you could do any "enriching" that would make its life worse so I say why not.
     
  6. gjbarord

    gjbarord Sepia elegans Staff Member Moderator

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    But if you do not know if it is good, how do you know if it is bad? What if you are actually doing damage to it?

    Greg
     
  7. Perky

    Perky Cuttlefish Registered

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    That's a great question, certainly from what I've seen so far of his behaviour if he goes to the other side of the tank or decends far away from the object it's not something he wants to come in contact with.

    When I've put floating rods in with food on for him, he will often investigate and even hold onto the rod after the food is gone. Whether this is good or bad for him i'm not sure, but as his tank is very bare I feel that no interaction with anything is possibly worse
     
  8. robyn

    robyn Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    In my experience working with nautilus there is little value in adding 'toys' or trying to use balls or rods to shape the feeding response - attachment to the feeding stick might simply be due to residual olfactory cues on it.

    We either keep our nautiluses (experimental subjects so this affects the way we house them) in an empty tank with no internal structures, which prevents the animals from damaging themselves in collisions with abrasive objects etc., or occasionally we use solid structures to build artificial 'reef' environments for them, which we know increases exploratory activity (so this probably meets the definition of 'enrichment'). I think the best thing that you could do with them is stick a piece of fish or shrimp somewhere in the tank and allow the animal to track the odour source for the food reward. If the tank is large and contains any type of structures giving you a hiding spot, this might provide an hour or more of relatively 'natural' behaviour. I personally am not an advocate of 'enrichment' using artificial stimulators such as toys or anthropogenic interactions. Depending on your needs and circumstances your preferences might differ.

    Let us know how it goes! I am always curious to hear more about nautilus behaviour.
     
  9. Perky

    Perky Cuttlefish Registered

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    Cheers roybn that helps quite a bit. The tank currently doesn't have any hiding spots for food etc. However I could happily build a small artificial reef with quite a bit of ease, using materials that wouldn't be abrasive to the nautilus.

    I'm not a huge fan of enrichment myself , however I do believe that sometimes having a completely bare tank with nothing for the poor creature to do or even display something close to natural hunting etc can sometimes be detrimental. At the moment I'm dropping the food to the bottom which allows the nautilus time to 'hunt' it.
    Unfortunatly it only seems to allow him about 5 minutes of something to do. Building a small hiding spot could allow a bit more stimulis for the creature without going over the top with feeding rods and toys. Will let you know how i get on.
     
  10. Chlosapel

    Chlosapel Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Know this is a bit off topic, but thanks for the info in your signature. Even when I asked my teachers, they couldn't give me a straight answer on what the plural of "octopus" was.
     
  11. robyn

    robyn Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    For artificial reef building we've used cinder blocks and PVC pipe - you can make little over-hangs and nooks for them to explore, and I think they like to settle in the same spot after a while, like they actively choose a shelter. This suggests to me that changing their environment by moving stuff around might approximate moving to a new location, and thus give them something new to think about. As long as the tank is big enough to add blocks without risking getting the animals trapped in tight spaces, this is an easy way to liven up their lives a bit. And it gives you plenty of spots to stash food.

    As Greg implies though, it is difficult to tell whether such changes are stimulating or stressful, with nautilus its pretty hard to tell the difference!
     

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