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September 16, 2007

Behavior observations

Fall temperatures are quickly overtaking the former hot summer days which means behavior changes in tortoise and turtles. The sun is nice and warm. Frankie and the box turtles are able to get out and roam around. At night, the temperatures are dropping into the sixties.

Turtles Mama Turtle and Brown Eyes have made tremendous efforts to dig under ground. Big accomplishment considering this Alabama soil is the toughest I've seen. When dry, the soil is nearly impenetrable. When wet, its clay with rocks throughout. Mama Turtle and Brown Eyes have both managed to dig far enough to cover their carapace. That is not too deep but I think it is a good start. I think this is a sign that they will want to hibernate.

A discovery of two box turtle eggs was made when I checked on the turtles yesterday. Who ever laid them didn't take time to really cover them making me think it was Brown Eyes. Mama turtle is strong instincts and does very well with her eggs. Brown Eyes is not so careful: she has laid them in the open before.

The previous box turtle eggs laid just a few months did not make it. Two died early in development. One never started to develop. One made it all the way to making slits into its eggs but failed to complete the job and get out of the egg. I regret this occurred when I was out of town or I may have been around to see the problem and help it out. Overall, I am not very good at incubating turtle eggs.

Frankie has a night ceramic heater in his enclosure that comes on when temperatures get under 70 degrees. I've checked on him the last two nights and so far our heat set-up is working for him. Still, I don't think its a good enough solution for winter temperatures. When he is cold, legs and head are pulled into shell as far as he can. When he is warm, the legs spread out.

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