8-8-19. I’m pretty certain the Es mated this week (on August 6th). They are fierce little maters! I didn’t get to observe any mating activity last summer, so their mating behavior surprised me and I first took it as aggression. I have a decent hunch as to which of the two males mated with Saskia. I believe, based on follow-up protective behavior, that it was Frederico again, so this would be the same parents of last year’s successful brood. This would put spawning for the Es sometime on or around September 4th.
I have yet to see any mating behavior in my Purple Pinchers and no sign of eggs, although my main breeders are up and active now: Kermit, Lola, Artemis, Garbo, and Blue. It’s fine with me if they wait. If they mate in September, that gives me a little bit of a break between batches. The full moon is still a week away, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they “went for it” then. My PPs are pretty reliable full-moon maters.
As for the strawberries, it’s now 31 days since Abby was observed mating and then was subsequently brought to me to give her eggs a chance to hatch. I’ve seen no spawning, but I did observe her shifting around and acting broody earlier this week. However, that behavior seems to have stopped as of this morning, so I believe Abby dropped her eggs overnight somewhere in the tank. I did a search, but didn’t find anything that looked like eggs. I’m guessing they were consumed by the other crabs. I really wanted this to work first time out of the gate, but straws, as a species, are completely new to me and I still have a lot to learn about their behavior, mating or otherwise.
I’ve also been spending some time thinking about the breeding program in philosophical terms, too, including the bioethics of what I’m trying to do. Also what my long-term goals are, and just generally trying to figure out what I want my role to be in this long-term breeding project. Last year, I tried to induce spawning in Blue when I was sure it was time and she wasn’t going into the saltwater on her own. She was terrified as she went underwater, scrambled out as fast as she could, and then spent hours drying the eggs (which clearly hadn’t been ready after all). Then two days later she cast them onto some wood in the tat and the other crabs ate them. (I gathered some and added them to the saltwater, but none hatched.) I had clearly interfered at the wrong time and I took that as a reminder that I don’t actually know more than nature and that it’s not really under my control–it’s all up to the crabs.
So, I won’t be forcing any human-induced spawning on Abby. I want her to trust me long-term, and we’re still just barely getting to know one another. Plus, I want this whole breeding thing to be a cooperative effort. I want the crabs to WANT to spawn and give me a shot at this. It’s an approach that I believe respects the animal’s role in this whole venture. I need to let her do her part and I need to learn more about her–and straws in general–and I need to remember that this is a process. Do I want straw babies? Heck yeah, but I want them to hatch on their terms.
Does this make me a little crazy in some people’s eyes? Probably. Do I care? Not that much, as it turns out. This is between me and these beautiful crabs I get to care for–and we’ll do it the way that works best for us, but I promise I will give it my all if Abby (or anyone else) gifts me with little baby swimmers.