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March 15, 2018

Noise, Bucket, Monster

I've been working on this Frankie Tortoise Tail for a while but just couldn't get it "framed" right.  Just didn't seem to have a start or a finish so it's been left undone. Surrendering to pressure to post "anything" about what Frankie is up to I thus present this:

Over last year's holidays I shared a Frankie Tail over dinner with some friends. One friend laughed so hard I thought she was going to fall off her chair.  Another stared in confused-disbelief.  Guessing the "Tail" is tell-able here it goes told just the way I told it over a dinner party.

Frankie got his first noise complaint.  Really.  I brag that neighbors can't complain about noise because sulcata tortoises don't bark. It's a perk point for tortoises.

Apparently I am very, very wrong.

During one of the last year's warm Fall weekends, I headed out to check the mailbox. My next-door neighbor spotted me and waved to have a word.

My neighbor, an avid lawn and garden caretaker, asked me if everything was okay as he grew concerned about the loud "moaning" and "groaning" noises coming from our backyard.....all morning.  

Immediately I face the dilemma whether to explain in scienfic or slang terms exactly what my sulcata tortoise is doing to his favorite orange bucket.

I choose "humping".

My dear 14 year old, sexually mature, 108 pound sulcata tortoise, Frankie, is outside in his yard "loving" his orange bucket.....for four hours.  Four.  Hours.

This four hour love-fest is perfectly normal behavior for Frankie and most all healthy male sulcata.

This happens all the time.  Yes, humping for hours. All the time.

Although my neighbor didn't ask, I promised I'd take Frankie's bucket away on weekends so everyone could work peacefully in their yard.

Back to the Dinner Party.  The disbelieving-astonished guest inquired further as to what a 100+ pound tortoise humped as obviously we don't own a female sulcata tortoise and never will.  I went on to explain about "bucket love."

I explained about Frankie's obsession with buckets. Not just buckets. There's been other objects of Frankie's "Tough Love."  "Tough" in that object's of Frankie's Interests don't survive that long....intact.

In the past there was Umbrella Stand.
Umbrella stand is an all-time favorite but getting too small to really please Frankie.

Julie of Long Island Turtle Rescue's gifted Frankie this turtle umbrella stand. 

Grey bucket's gave five year of service.

Frankie's current  bucket is it's third year of Tough Love.  
Orange Bucket needs the weekend off.  Orange bucket is beginning to split so it needed some recovery time anyway.

Frankie was pretty grumpy about loosing orange bucket.  I thought I would make it up to him by buying a big pumpkin.  I thought he would be amused chasing down the big round pumpkin trying to eat it.

I watched him chase the pumpkin trying to chomp into it before it would roll away again.  He seemed quite engaged in the activity so I went back inside the house.  An hour or so later I went back to see what was left of the pumpkin.

To my horror I found Frankie upside down next to the uneaten pumpkin. Humping trumped eating and obviously Frankie slid off the round pumpkin and onto his back.

This is real horror to any sulcata owner.  Sulcata tortoises cannot right themselves.  Left on their back, they can die of heat stroke if under a hot sun or suffocate if left there.

I ran to Frankie and turned him back over.  He seemed to be stunned and I didn't want to leave until he recovered.  I sat with him for what seemed an eternity before he started walking around again.

This is where it gets strange.  This is also how Frankie got a new name:  Monster.

Once Frankie was feeling more like himself he started stomping around the yard. Not the usually Frankie-walking-around-enjoying-yard but with a madder-than-hell look.

The aftermath was total destruction of the greenhouse's door cover.  Door cover I built (picture below) BEFORE Mad-As-Hell Monster took revenge for bucket loss.

It wasn't an accident.  After ramming one side he sorta swayed back and forth to make sure it came all the way down.  I ran inside to get the camera!

I cleaned up the mess once I pulled everything off the top of I mean Monster.  He seemed satisfied that he had made his point.

I don't know what the point was. The door didn't do anything.  He's gonna get a new bucket.  He'll get five days of tough love with weekends off.  He got to eat the pumpkin!

So ends the Dinner Party Frankie Tortoise Tail.  The story of how a sulcata tortoise can bother the neighbors.  The story of Bucket Love.  The story how Frankie got his new name, Monster.

May 1, 2017


Frankie and I are gonna have a big discussion. Big Discussion real, real soon.

No matter that Frankie wants me to believe he doesn't understand English.  He does.  Ask any pet owner.  Pets understand what we are saying.

And I have something to say to Frankie. Something must be done.

It's about the back door.  The French Door to the backyard.  The French Door that double opens wide, the main thoroughfare between Frankie's kingdom and our human domain.  That door is used A LOT.

If that door was a grocery store it would be the busiest store in the whole city: demanding people coming and going 24 hours a day gettin' what they need, staff working to stock shelves and help customers, cars coming and going....busy, busy, busy. You get the picture.

I use that back door all day, in and out, over and over, going out to give Frankie hay, opening Frankie's greenhouse in the morning and closing the door at night, watering the grass, watering Frankie, checking on loud noises, feeding the box turtles, giving Frankie a carrot, checking why I haven't seen Frankie in an hour....busy, busy, busy, all day.

It's a key door in my life.

Most irritating is I only use 1/2 of the French door. Only one side.  The other side is blocked by a cat tree so that Newt and Scrat can watch Frankie, the birds, squirrels, and nocturnal visitors like raccoons and possums.  I only need the one part and the cats have the other.  One door is enough.

Here lies the problem.  Frankie is claiming territory.

When Frankie does something the first time it can be considered a random event, just something that happens, and usually not a repeating offense.

I open the back door and find a huge Frankie poop and pool of pee right smack-dab at the base of the busiest door in the house.  Its worth a roll of the eye and a huff of disgust.

The large pool of pee spread the length of the door means I have to jump to avoid getting the smelliest urine in the animal kingdom on my feet.  The poop is not so bad.  It's the least offensive smelling animal poop I know. In 24 hours Frankie poop can just be punted off the porch just like a football.

I walk to the front yard, turn on the water, and drag the hose back to the patio. Thirty seconds later the offensive smelling pee is off the patio.  Small side track from a day's worth of chores. Irritating but not so bad.  Task done.  Onto other things.

Next morning I open the door and there lies a pool of Frankie pee with a side of Frankie poop. Eye roll and huff of disgust accompanied by a deep disturbance that today may signal a very unwelcome Frankie behavior.

The second time Frankie does something is worth noting.  If Frankie rams the lime tree two days in a row then it's time to move the lime tree out of Frankie's reach.

Come on, Frankie!  You have the whole yard!

Every day I gotta scoop poops in the greenhouse, even in the summer, because morning poops in your greenhouse house are a rule.  I accept that.  The Purple Pooper Scooper lives in the greenhouse to accommodate this poop habit.  Accommodation at hand.

But, Frankie, the back door?

Day three.  Yep.  Again.

The greenhouse means never having to clean up poop and pee off the bathroom floor ever again.  Summer means all poop and pee are in the yard...WHERE THEY BELONG.

Day four.  Nothing.

Day five.  I am doomed.  Frankie has staked claim to the back porch right by the back door. His to do as he please.

Maybe it's just be a message.  He may want more attention.  Or carrots.

My mind is made up.  Tomorrow morning: coffee by the back door.  I am laying my own claim.  If he wants that spot he will have to push me off, chair and all.

The gauntlet is tossed.  Gloves are off.  Challenge made.

Don't lay bets on me.  The odds are always in Frankie's favor.

Dedicated to Anne O'Bryon who is married to champion pooper-scooper Marcus O'Bryan. Peace and love to you.

September 6, 2016

Dress For Dinner

With Frankie Tortoise Tails, I only ever want to tell the truth about sulcata tortoises and give a clear warning to potential buyers and those ooging I-wanna-cute-wittle-big-eye-tortoise-like-'tis-wittle-pet-shop-baby-sulcata-dat-the-clerk-says-will-never-get-bigger-then-da-tank-I-put-it-in impulse buyer. Yeah.

Ya gotta know what you're up against when that cute baby turtle hits 105 pounds.

A friend told me that a storms blew over her fence and within a day her big adult male sulcata pushed through temporary fixes to the fence.  With some incredible good luck and attentive neighbors, the runaway tortoise was spotted and an animal rescue group quickly located Franklin's worried owner.

...storms, fence damage, tortoise rescue isn't the point of the story.  The point is the rescue group weighted big ole Franklin.....wait for it.....a whopping 150 pounds.

I always thought that reports of 150 pound sulcata were unsubstantiated guesses.  After all how many tortoise owners have a large animal scale in their bathroom?

I KNEW I should have underfed Frankie all these years!  Too late now.  I am doomed.

As I continue to creep around in my now six month depression Frankie...the future 150 pound Frankie...continues to keep me on my toes.

He is a force to be dealt with.

Last week he tore up the box turtle's outdoor enclosure who luckily were inside at the time.  It appeared that he just went full-out sulcata ram at the back corner fence area.  The long line of the fence was pulled away from the permanent cemented weather station pole, and area around front tumbled the stacked bricks that held it in place.

Really?  Is Frankie now ramming structures?  Do I need to worry about the shed?

After a little clean up and careful observation I discovered the truth of how that fence came down. Frankie didn't ram the box turtles fence after all.  Nope.  Frankie was enthusiastically loving on his orange bucket right next to the fence and consequentially the fence became collateral hump-damage.

Truth.  Nothing is safe in Frankie's yard.

Like wearing nice clothes or your best shoes around Frankie.  Don't.

I have this dress.  It's a gorgeous dress from my favorite clothing store, Clear Water Creek.  I cannot afford to buy anything at full price from the place so when I find a $150 dress for $20 (did someone accidentally mislabeled this?), I was thrilled.  It's a dress that I will never have occasion to wear: sherbet green eyelet cotton, sleeveless, scoop neck, ankle length, lined,...beautiful!  I've had it since last summer...never worn it.

At home, doing nothing, I wore it.  The dress really made me feel a bit better.  Went outside to see Frankie.  He liked the dress so much that I had to drop the carrot and run back to the house.

The dress required hand washing which means I put it in the washing machine anyway, but I was not going to put it in the drier.  I put it on a hanger and hung it on the fence out of Frankie' reach.

Just after dinner I went outside to bring the dress back inside.

Do you know how far a sulcata tortoise can stretch their neck?  Have you ever seen a sulcata tortoise stand up on tippy-toes?  Between an outstretched neck and tippy-toes the dress was just not high up enough.

I found the dress on the ground.  At first I thought it just fell on the ground and Frankie hadn't noticed it at all.  Then I saw the chew marks.

Go ahead and say it.  I already did.  Frankie had the dress for dinner.

The good news is Frankie couldn't shallow.  He just chewed.

The dress got washed again then hung in the shower to dry.

Really I was never going to wear that dress out in public anyway.  Never going to have an occasion to wear it when jeans and a tailored shirt will suffice just as well.

I am never going to install a clothes line in Frankie's yard. No, that clothes line would need to be high up to keep Frankie's inquiring appetite from eating more clothes.  I'd have to use a ladder.

Do I need to explain what happens to ladders when Frankie is around?