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December 28, 2007

Cold Reminders

I admit. I was out of town for Christmas and have no idea how Frankie & the gang did on Christmas eve. However, our caretaker told us this:

"When I arrived on Christmas, the cricket containers had been dragged all over the gecko room. The gecko container on wheels was pushed over to the far end of the room and almost had flipped over. Hay was everywhere. Frankie acted completely innocent. In fact, he looked rather bored".

But, said our caretaker, he was in his box every night when he went to water the geckos.

Of course he was in bed every night. Frankie values his sleep time - or should I say his beauty sleep.

When we got home there was seven hibiscus flowers freshly bloomed that day. I gave them to Frankie first thing this morning. He was happy with his treat and was happy to see me. He followed me all over the gecko room and then insisted on going outside. It was warm enough for him to go out and graze for about 30 minutes. Big change from where we spent Christmas with snow and daily 30s temperatures. I miss my family but I DO NOT MISS THE WEATHER!

Pretty sure Frankie doesn't miss the cold weather either.

December 24, 2007

Santa Anticipation

Oh, I wonder what Frankie and the box turtles will get from Santa this year? Sweaters? Bedding? New Hides? Food treats? (Can't give it away - don't want to spoil the surprise)

I am horrible at buying gifts for people....I have no idea what to get anyone for any occasion.   Not so with pets.  Why is it easy to gift them?

December 22, 2007

Book Turtle

Yesterday was a grand day - it was warm and sunny. Just what a tortoise would ask for.

Young Macy, a neighborhood girl, was over early to see the baby turtle. Frankie was having a fit because we were looking at the baby turtle and not taking Frankie outside! He was butting at the door and pacing in front of it. How does he know if it's nice outside? So, I let him out.

After Macy left, I needed to go to the library before it closed at 1:00 to pick up some books. I decided to bring Frankie along. I loaded him in the Prius and headed out (library is 6 minutes away).

Our library is always very warm so he enjoyed his walk around the books. He checked out the children's area - maybe because he is only 7 years old or perhaps because there are lots of primary colors. Probably the latter. Kids at the library had fun seeing him.

We went back home and Frankie spent the rest of the day in the yard grazing and basking.

December 20, 2007

Making Mama Happy....Almost

Frankie continues to make his mama happy by eating his soaked hay everyday. I am mixing in some weeds and grass just to keep him very happy. Now if I could just get all the box turtles to eat vegetables. They are picky (especially Brown Eyes who never eats veggies except the occasional corn and it better be fresh!). Today the boxies are getting veggies and a banana mixed in for lunch.

Brown Eyes failed to go into hibernation. She just got sick. She has managed to pull out of it already: A good warm up did the job.

I saw the baby box turtle drink water this morning. Every morning I put her in water but she is so secretive that I didn't know if she was drinking. But she is. Overall, she is better about letting me see her eat and now, drink. I can better monitor health when I know they are getting sustenance and hydration (ooo - big fancy words today).

Frankie is so well behaved this year inside. He simply doesn't go stomping around the room unless I am there. Any other time I check he is just sitting nicely under his heat lamp. He hasn't peed in his water since last week and I am worried that he will have a pee on the floor instead of his water. Today I will put him back in the water to see what happens.

December 18, 2007

Hay Fever

I had asked my neighbor, a very nice school teacher, if she could take care of our cats during Thanksgiving which she said she could (we ended not going anywhere, oh well). She said she would always do what she could to help but she just couldn't take care of our 200 geckos.

That's okay. She did say she could feed Frankie while were gone since "wouldn't I just give him a bag of lettuce?" "Oh, no," I explained, "you would have to go outside and pick weeds and grass for him." She was silent for several moments and then asked if someone else could feed Frankie, please.

I have tried feeding him dry hay but he won't touch it. I've been steadfast and just not tried any other suggestions on feeding him hay.

Since Frankie won the costume contest, and we got the gift card from PetSmart, I bought some Orchard Grass for the heck of it. Try one more time. I did this yesterday. Frankie didn't even bother to try to eat just walked over it. So I surrendered to suggestions of other sulcata owners and took a handful of orchard grass, cut it to pieces and soaked it in warm water for five minutes. I put it in front of Frankie and HE ATE IT!

Now don't everyone get too excited. I am NOT going to start buying Frankie orchard grass for everyday food - I like his $5 monthly food budget and I am not going to pay $40 per bale of hay or grass for him (its expensive in Alabama because of the drought). BUT, it is great to have an alternative food source for Frankie in situations like me being out of town and having someone else take care of Frankie. I figure I can mix damp orchard grass and some lettuce and put it in a bag it and store it in the refrigerator. Not too much work for anyone.

I love solutions. :P

December 16, 2007

Water Works

When keeping Frankie inside for any length of time especially during cold winter months, pee is probably the biggest problem. A gallon of pee on the floor is a big clean up chore especially if the pee runs under tables, etc. So, solving this problems has been on my mind as anyone may know who reads this blog. I may have a solution.

I've been giving Frankie soaks in water every day to every other day for the last month as he spends more and more time inside. The water is put in a under-the-bed sweater box which fits him snug. He can't get out of it (which surprises me). The water is warm.

So, plop Frankie in the warm water and about three times weekly he will pee in the water (he doesn't pee every time I put him in water). Bravo! Frankie. Like magic. Why had I not put two and two together sooner. I have a sulcata trained to pee on command! He has not peed on the floor in the gecko room in a month - yeah!

So here are the pictures. The first is him drinking. The second is about five minutes later and Frankie is doing what is called a 'water exchange." Look close and you will see the brown pee water behind him. What is unseen is the white/brownish urates, heavier than water, that also come out during water exchange.
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Drinking new water in the front end.
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Old water & poop & pee out the back end.

December 11, 2007

One of the really nice things about this time of year is I can hear where Frankie is in the backyard (crunch, crunch). I so love to look outside our window and see Frankie walking around the backyard.
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Frankie basking in the backyard. He just worships the sun.

How happy can one turtle be?

December 10, 2007

Sha Sha Shell

I was feeding and watering the box turtles when I noticed that Mama Turtle's carapace was looking flaky. I washed her shell up a bit and really it was flaking off. This may have made a new box turtle owner nervous but shell shed is not unusual. She simply was having some of her shell chip off (very, very thin layer) revealing a beautiful shell underneath. I did put some shell conditioner on in small amounts and then buff it away. This just treats the shell a bit and helps the shedding parts to come off.

I DO NOT recommend the use of shell conditioners - constant use is contrary to the shell's health. This is the first (maybe second) time in 2007 that I've used it.

Baby turtle, Pumpkin, is back. She was at Macy's house while we were away. Macy loved taking care of Pumpkin and Pumpkin did well under her care.

Frankie's Perfect Day

No ice storms here - while the Midwest weathers one of the worst ice storms in years, with 100,000 customers without electricity including my mother and Greg's mother, we here in Alabama are enjoying Spring like weather. Yes, in the mid 70's today and this day it was SUNNY! Frankie couldn't wait to go outside. I could barely get him to come back inside!

He was all over his yard eating and walking and sunning and resting and eating and walking - you would think he was locked away for years. But after all, he has his favorite weather and sunny in the 70's is IT!

I even brought out the box turtles. Rather than them running for shelter, they strolled around their enclosure and found comfy spots to watch the day go by. I checked them again and again to make sure no one was digging their way to China.

Have I mentioned that Frankie is Mr. October 2007 on the Turtle Times 2007 Calendar. The handsome boy made the calendar. Thank you to anyone reading this who voted for him.

His friends, Tater and Bowser, are making fun of his "celebrity" status. One of them put a car under Frankie's My Space Christmas tree so he could flee the paparazzi. Cute. We love Frankie's My Space fiends.

Back to Frankie who came inside reluctantly an hour later than he usually comes inside for "bedtime". He stayed up way past his normal bedtime. I guess one doesn't always get a perfect day to enjoy.

December 9, 2007

A Trip to the Store

We had two days of exceptionally warm weather, into the 70's, which Frankie should really love but without the presence of the sun he just couldn't enjoy the days fully. But, he did get out and eat some grass and do a little walking around.

So, we took him to PetSmart. We had to go and get some cat supplies. We had the gift cards from Frankie's Halloween costume prize. Off we go. Of course he was restless in the car ride over but we got used to it.

When we got to PetSmart, everyone made a fuss over him as always. It was very neat that there were the employees that remembered Frankie from the Halloween contest and from his other visits. The new PetSmart manager got to meet Frankie. We also stopped by the PetSmart veterinarian office for a quick weigh in. Frankie is 45.2 pounds - not much heavier. His weight gain seems to be slowing. Probably okay for a fellow his age.

December 3, 2007

Winter DIgs Done

All is nice and quiet on the turtle front. Everyone seems to be settled into the winter digs provided in the gecko room.

The box turtles seem to really like their big tub of dirt. Mama Turtle and Brown Eyes dig in every night. Big Turtle snuggles into the leaves. I think today, along with their regular soaking in water, I will let them walk around the gecko room a bit for some exercise.

The baby box turtle is eating. She doesn't like to be watched so I have to leave the food with her and walk away. I will pre-count what I leave her so I can tell how much she has eaten. Every few days I put her under a UV light. She doesn't like this -- its like she is too exposed -- but she needs some UV.

Frankie is being good and walking outside on his own each day. He only gets about two to three hours before the sun begins to set or gets too cold. Today its to be rather chilly so I don't know if he will get out at all. Since he doesn't seem interested in the water outside (maybe too cold), I am soaking him weekly. Even if he is reluctant to drink water, he will have the opportunity as well as the soaking. Last winter he just didn't get enough water and at the time I didn't have a good solution. This year, I have a big plastic container that I can fill with just enough water for Frankie and its big enough to get Frankie in (the box turtles use this container to eat super worms).