Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: May 2005



May 31, 2005

Day Three of Rain

Well, it has rained or been overcast skies for the entire Memorial Weekend and today (Tuesday) too. It looks like the entire week will be like this. Not that this bothers me but a sulcata just don't like it! Frankie, the sulcata, has been inside for three days. We have a very generous gecko room that has a cement floor and a special light set up for him, but I think that Frankie would much rather be outside. He gets up at 10:00 a.m. (lucky) and then goes back to bed at 3:00 p.m. He doesn't do much in between.Posted ImageI brought the four box turtles in on the second day as their enclosure turned into a muddy bog. Although they can do okay in it, they have a tendency to look a bit miserable. I brought them inside and put them into a basket. Posted Image Turtles in a basket.Today I took them on the back porch and let them have water. Yesterday I fed them superworms.

May 28, 2005

Slugs in the night

Last night, after dark, I went outside to the enclosure to find Mattie, the spiny tortoise, to bring inside the house. Usually she is brought in before dark but last night I was out walking so didn't get to it before I went to the park.While searching for her I came across remains of Frankie's, the sulcata, corn and cabbage snack. Feasting late at night was about twenty big slugs, large sized up to two inches in length. I don't come across this size slugs very often as they are elusive and hide well during the day but there they were in a large group. They were too hard to resist! I woke up Mama turtle (three toed box) to have a slug fest. She was a bit irritated being waken up but once she caught sight of these large slugs, the late hour became un-important. She ate about twelve of the largest. She would have eaten more but I was wanting to get back inside the house.

May 24, 2005

Frankie the sulcata

After considering some better information that I've been reading on sulcatas, I've adjusted Frankie's diet a bit. I've reduced his fruit intake and, for the summer quite supplementing his diet with salads greens. His enclosure is full of grasses and weeds and during the summer months this should be sufficient for him. I put cuttlebone in his enclosure and throw old egg shells there too. I may have to add to his food during winter but during these summer months, he should be fine. Certain veggies, like carrots, I will continue to offer to him as they are vitamin A rich.Yesterday I gave him one strawberry that was stuffed with a vitamin A pill (beta carotene). Today he got a banana. That will be all the fruit this week. I am not planning on giving him any other food items this week other what he gets in his enclosure.He is so happy getting certain weeds and flowing plants that I don't think that he will feel that I am neglecting him. Hibiscuses and dandelions are his favorites which I have available.

May 17, 2005

The start of another hot May day

It is morning.  Frankie, the sulcata tortoise, who sleeps in the kitchen right now, just got outside to his pen.   He loves it outside.  He is sunning.

Yesterday I gave him a big bowl of water (size of him). Up to now he has show very little interest in water except as a youth (under two years of age).  This water was different.

Frankie approached the water dish with great enthusiasm, drank it and then proceeded to play in it. He walked through it over and over, and kept stepping in and out of the dish with this front feet.  In the water dish.  Out of the water dish.  In the water dish.  Out of the water dish.  You get the point.

Brown Eyes is not acting restless as if she was to lay eggs, rather she is sitting under a shelter like the other box turtles. I gave her a couple of chunks of cuttlebone and left her under the shelter (top half of a cat crate that I got at a garage sale).Bama is practicing his mating skills by mounting Big Turle on her side. Her attititue to all this behavior is "what ever, kid."

May 16, 2005

Turtle Fest

This morning was turtle fest! I head outside to the box turtle pen around 8:00 am with super worms, supplements, and bananas. Gathering Bama, Big Turtle, Mama turtle and Brown Eyes around, I feed them supplemented super worms and bananas. This ritual has gone on for many years. I figured in Alabama that Turtle Fest would be several times a week since their pen here is smaller than the one in Oklahoma (which was the whole front and back yard).  In Oklahoma, they had lots of grasshoppers, worms, snails and bugs to eat. 

Our back yard is new.  No grass, no weeds.  Nothing yet grown in.  But, Alabama being a bit more moist than Oklahoma, there are rolly-pollies, snails, snails in shells and other crawly bugs. 

The box turtles don't eat as much during Turtle Fest as they used too. This bothers me somewhat because when I feed them I can be assured that they are getting enough calcium and supplements. In Oklahoma, I usually had eye problems. Supplementing helped a great deal. I haven't found a good balance here so right now I give them a vitamin a (beta carotene) pill every month. I have cuttlebone sitting in the pen so that they can eat it when they want.

Bad news is there are fire-ants in this area so I cannot leave any food around. No fruits or veggies can be left in the enclosure without attracting fire ants and risking the lives of the turtles.

Frankie gets a bigger area

Greg and I went out this evening and doubled the size of Frankie's pen this evening. Of course we were feasted on by every evening bug in Alabama; Greg said that he was low a quart of blood.

If it rains tonight again then all the dirt will settle around the stakes that we put in the ground. It will settle all the grass back too. Frankie will definitely have access to a bunch of new grasses, weeds and flowers.

We are still using wire fence that is hooked up to steel posts driven into the ground.  Have I mentioned that Alabama dirt is nothing like Oklahoma dirt?  Oklahoma dirt is all red sand.  Alabama is all clay and rock.  This is not easy to dig into.  

May 1, 2005

First hot day in Alabam

The Turtle Times forum seems to be out-of-whack so the best I can do under these circumstances is to start a BLOG and muse myself about my turtles. This is not a problem as I take great pleasure in thinking about my turtles.

The first turtle to come about was Mama Turtle, a rescue off NE 63rd street in Oklahoma City. Her territory was being torn down for several human houses putting her out of a home. I can estimate this time to be about 1995 as I have a picture I took of her sometime soon after that. She moved to our house in Spencer, Oklahoma where the entire yard was fenced from the front to the back.

Since her, there have been other rescued turtles to come and go but she remained with me as she could not be returned to her old home. Another turtle unable to return to a old home due to habitat destruction is Brown Eyes. Brown Eyes was half the size of Mama Turtle so I guessed her a juvenile.  In just a few short years, Brown Eyes has reached sexual maturity and weighs the same as Mama Turtle.

The monster of the bunch is Big Turtle. Too large to dig and unable to cover herself, she cannot hibernate.  This three toe turtle was dying of a respiratory infection when we found her in November wondering near a church looking for shelter (not in the church but somewhere around the church).

Big Turtle fully recovered within a month but has never since attempted to hibernate. I have always had to provide her with additional shelter as she is too large to dig her own shelter. Russ Gurley has told me that she is the largest three-toe turtle that he has ever seen. Big Turtle, Brown Eyes and Mama Turtle are my permanent residence.

When we moved to Alabama, I reluctantly brought a third box turtle, Bama, who was rescued after being run flat by a car on NE 63rd street in Oklahoma City. Pronounced as un-recoverable by our Oklahoma veterinarian, my skills as a turtle nurse were good enough to pull this young boy through a six month recovery period.

By the time we left Oklahoma, Bama was just learning how to walk again (he suffered a lot of neurological damage). I had planned to only bring females so that I would have no turtle offspring in a foreign area.  I didn't know if Bama would eventually recover enough to become a daddy. That looked like an ornate/three toe hybrid so it did not thrill me either.

That Brown Eyes is currently looking for somewhere to lay eggs means that Bama has recovered and come into sexual maturity.  This leaves me with the dilemma of what to do with coming the eggs. Right now I am just hoping that Brown Eye gets the eggs laid safely.There have been other turtles who were adopted out when we moved here to Alabama. I hated giving any of them up.  It is best just not to breed turtles at all.

Frankie is my spur thigh sulcata tortoise. He is my joy. I thought for many years about getting a spur thigh sulcata and about what that meant. The commitment was serious, I knew.Sulcata get HUGE.

When we looked for houses in Alabama, the backyard size was a top 5 concern (price, gecko room possibilities, location, kitchen were others). I don't have children so didn't have to worry about finding a good schools and a nice place to raise children - just needed a good turtle location and were there any no exotic animal laws.

Our yard is fantastic -- we just don't have a completed fence yet.  Frankie has already, in two years, out grown three smaller fences. I keep pushing Greg (husband) to get the large privacy fence build, already!

Mattie is a small spiney tortoise. She is Greg's baby. She has free roam of the house on colder days plus a great turtle area set up for her in the living room with lights, shelter, water and food. Greg insists that she free roam and luckily she prefers to stay in the living room. On good days (lots of them in Alabama) she goes outside in a nice pen to roam around, eat fresh flowing grasses and enjoy the sunshine. Greg can never find her outside because she hides so well. I find her everytime.