Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: March 2008



March 31, 2008

Some of my favorite things

So, this morning, before coffee, I see Frankie. Always a lift to my morning. Too cool and wet to let him outside but I will be able to see him anytime I want by just going downstairs. I checked on him before Greg got up and Frankie was sitting in his box "hello, Frankie, honey"! How nice.

After breakfast, I take Frankie a carrot. I go downstairs and walk into a disaster area! He has peed on the floor. The pee is in his area, which is okay, I am prepared for that. But there are Frankie pee-footprints all over the gecko room, from one end to the other. And, what the heck, a drop a poo here and there for good measure. And while he is at it, he ate part of the mop. Nice. Can't wait until I see the mop parts he ate in a few days.

So, I mop up the whole gecko room with half a mop. Oh, now Frankie wants to go outside. Fine. He will just want back inside in ten minutes 'cause its cold outside. But, I let him outside anyway.

30 minutes later, when the gecko room floor is dry, Frankie comes back inside which takes him 15 minutes to walk inside cause he is cold and so walks slow from yard to door. I am still in my night shirt and big fluffy green robe and all the neighbors can see me but what do I care. I just smile and wave.

Just a few of my favorite things.

March 30, 2008

Walking to a different beat

When one owes a sulcata, a large sulcata, there just comes a day when picking it up is the last thing one wants to do. Weight become too much to pick up the sulcata without a second pair of hands, ingenious thought-up methods (like planks or ramps or lift systems) or just plain waiting for the sulcata to get where you want it. And then the realization comes that the sulcata walks to the beat of a different drummer....a much slower one.

Yes, when one calls Fido the dog into the house because it is about to down pour like Noah's flood one can usually count on the dog to make it into the house within 30 seconds or less...even if the dog is on the other end of a big yard. But when you call the sulcata to come into the house, it is just going to take ten to fifteen minutes because that is just how fast they walk. And I kid you not. I've timed Frankie.

I've had thunderstorm warnings hit our area and I can put on a rain slick, run outside to the box turtle pen, hunt down three box turtles some which may be fully to partially buried, and get them back into the house in five minutes flat. I promise I have done it.

With Frankie, I can get him headed toward the house, willingly (a unwilling sulcata is thrice the trouble), and had enough time to clean up the yard, get all the box turtles into the house, take inside garbage to the outside garbage can, take the outside large garbage can into the garage, secure all patio furniture and Frankie will still not be in the house. I know because I have done this.

So, I have a red wagon in the yard (still means I have to pick Frankie up), a skate board with a pull string, and a garden cart (must pick up Frankie but the cart isn't as noisy as the wagon) as transportation devices when I must move Frankie quickly. Its either that or take a book outside and read while Frankie ambles into the house.

I have seen Frankie walk faster, usually when he is on "the big walk" and having fun. But I can't remember anyone warning me that I would be standing dead still waiting on a sulcata to get somewhere on his own four feet when I want him to hurry and get his butt inside because there is a storm coming, oh, please hurry, please. Forget it. Sacrifice the back. Pick Frankie up.

Don't say someone hasn't warned you 'cause I just did.

March 27, 2008

Push, Shove, Guide, Slide

It is a gloriously nice day so I took Frankie for a walk....because he wanted to go on a walk. When I took him outside and he stood outside the door, not proceeding to the backyard, which by his look said he wanted to go for a walk. It was a long walk. When we got back around noon Frankie was not ready to be done with the walk. I think he could have done another walk around the block. It was all I could do to get him into the back yard - push, shove, guide, slide with my foot- everything. I was hungry, thirsty and tired. End of walk.

I wanted to get him water but Greg had not set up the hose in the backyard yet. I will wait until this afternoon when he comes inside. Yesterday he demanded water (pushed his way to the Water Dragon's water) and then peed all over the floor. Still, after a nice hot walk, he could probably use more water.

The girls (box turtles) are outside in their yard enjoying the sun and nice weather. They stay out until dark. I still bring them in each night.

Back to Frankie. The walk went real well (until the end) so he looks like he will do well in the upcoming Autistic Walk and Do Dah Day Pet Parade. Still have a month to get him into shape. Me too. I threw my back out yesterday and really hoped Frankie would behave on our morning walk so I would not have to pick him up. Except for my push, shove, guide and slide with my foot, he did not have to be picked up.

March 22, 2008

Gabby Gathering

Greg and I had a table at the Dixie Reptile Show in Birmingham, Alabama today. I really wanted to bring Frankie but we just didn't have room in the car for him along with all the other stuff we brought to the show. Frankie has come along to a show before when he was younger and he had lots of fun just walking around. The really nice thing about the show is I got to meet up with some turtle friends that I have never met in person before: Kim, Theresia, and Vicki! Everyone but me had a long trip to come into Birmingham. But we really enjoyed spending time together talking about our sulcata and our other turtles.

Vicki had some beautiful baby red foot tortoises. If I had the money and a little more insanity, I would have brought a couple home with me.

Frankie and the box turtles spend an incredible day outside. It was sunny, temperatures in the low 70's, minimum wind. When I got home I went out to make sure everyone was okay. The boxies were basking. Frankie was walking like the walking fool he is. He got a carrot treat then took another 1/2 dozen walks around the yard. Since it is going to be cold tonight, all turtles came in for the night.

March 20, 2008

Weather Wimp

Frankie, the box turtles, my two cats and I spend yesterday morning in the basement 'cause the weatherman said there was a change of storms with dangerous straight line winds and tornadoes. I call it more of a drill, especially for the cats who dislike the gecko room (not sure why). Too windy and overcast for any of the turtles to go outside. I am beginning to really resent how very tender Alabamians are when it comes to the chance of dangerous weather. They are making me a nervous wreck!

In Oklahoma, I cannot ever recall running outside and bringing all the box turtles inside when it rained or when there was a tornado watch. Only once did Greg and I seriously consider going into our storm shelter during the Midwest City F5 tornado. There was a 1/2 foot of water in our storm shelter so we sat on our living room couch as the worse of it swarmed within a few miles of us. Frankie was sitting in his enclosure munching on greens and the box turtles were outside taking care of themselves.

Since I have been in Alabama, I have turned into a Weather Wimp. All turtles must be inside if there is a chance of dangerous weather. If it rains hard, turtles inside. If its too windy, turtles inside. If there is a weather warning, everyone downstairs. Have enough gas for the generator. Change the batteries for the Emergency Weather Radio. Put flashlights all over the house. Store extra water for toilets AND geckos. I even put a comforter in the gecko closet this week so I could be comfortable during storms.

Turtles just take it as it comes. If it rains, they go to higher grounds and tough it out. Hail is probably annoying. But they just sleep through it all. Wish I could be more like a turtle.

March 18, 2008

Today Forecast: Cloudy and Wiiiiinnnndy

After several days of ideal weather (nights may be stormy but days are sunny and warm), Frankie and the box turtles have enjoyed great days outdoors. But now we have a couple of days of clouds and rain ahead.

I went ahead and put the box turtles outside because they seem to enjoy overcast days. Only these type of days and a day following rain will I find the box turtles walking all over their outdoor area. Before putting them outside, they got a meal of corn and meal worms. Mama Turtle and Big Turtle ate all the corn and Brown Eyes ate the meal worms. Pretty normal.

Since Frankie has taken it upon himself to re-arrange the gecko room now that he is well, I will have to check him during the day to see that he doesn't do too much damage. Today is also the last day of his medications.

Yes, yes, Frankie is his old self again. Definitely a signs to look out for when a sulcata is sick: change of personality, change of habits, lack of activity, turning away favorite foods. Oh, there are "technical" terms for this like lethargic and anorexic but sometimes for us everyday people those terms need to be described in everyday words.

March 14, 2008

Oh, yes! He is feeling better!

oday was overcast so Frankie and the box turtles stayed inside.

Based on Frankie's behavior, I can say confidentially that Frankie is feeling better. While downstairs feeding the geckos, Frankie was up to his old antics - walking all over the gecko room, munching on things, demanding to go outside, pacing. I did let him take a look at outdoors to see if he really wanted to go outside. He took a quick round on the side yard and came right back inside. He went to his box to sleep so I didn't expect him to get come back out.

When I finished feeding the geckos, I went upstairs. An hour or so later, I went downstairs to see how everything was. Frankie was again up to his old antics. He had dragged a cricket container across the floor, knocked down some wood, dragged newspaper across the floor and trampled over some plastic enclosure -- basically he tore up the gecko room.

So, Frankie is back to his normal self.

March 13, 2008

Time for Pictures

It's been a while so here are some photos.

How Frankie gets to the backyard without me picking him up:


Box turtles outside in their water dish

We are soooo happy its warmer!

March 11, 2008

Sulcata Two Step

Its been a few really nice days - Frankie and the box turtles have been outside enjoying good weather and sunshine. Yesterday I waited until all the chill of the night air was gone before taking everyone outside.

The box turtles, who have the choice of shade or sun in their area, chose sun. They moved from their water bowl which is in the shade and up the hill to the sunny area of their pen. Each selected a niche to catch some sun yet be secure. When they all reached a very warm temperature, I put a small shelter over each so they could feel secure and still keep warm. Later in the day, just before taking them in, I hunted down snails and slugs to feed to them. Mama Turtle helped me dig around. She loves to help. She is first to run in and catch anything moving that I dig up.

I was happy to see that Frankie chose to do the "sulcata two-step" most of the day. The sulcata two-step is when a sulcata walks two steps, stops and takes a couple bites of grass, takes another two steps, eats some more grass, takes another two steps, eats more grass.....get the idea? He was very busy in the yard. This is good - much better than heading for the pile of leaves and digging under. Usually when he heads for the leaves it means one of two things - I don't feel well or its the end of a long day and I am ready to sleep (hey, Mom, get me inside!). Since he stayed out of the leaves yesterday, he is feeling better.

Before going in for the day, Frankie was put into his tub of water. He drank up some water (yea!) and then was ready to go in for the night.

Today is overcast. Not sure if anyone will be getting outside.

March 8, 2008

Run Down By Sulcata

For Frankie, it continues to be two steps forward and one step back. Today....well, you judge.

He was awake when I went downstairs at 6:30 am. He is in his warm box. He chippers up when I come inside: that is a good sign.

(Its snowing in Birmingham for the first time in 10 years...if you can call what is happening outside snow. Birmingham is nearly shut down, weathermen urging us not to go out in our cars....but the streets are completely clear, just wet.)

I followed a friend's advice and quit the tough love. I think to go outside and pick Frankie lots of green. But green stuff covered in white powder. So I wait. Frankie has gone back deep into his box, guess it is a one-step-back day.

Now it is 1:00 pm and sunny and most all signs of the white powder stuff is gone. I go outside and pick a load full of Frankie's favorite weeds and grasses. Take fresh greens back into the room and place them on the feeding platform. Nearly get run over by stampeding sulcata headed for green food pile. He eats it all and begs me for more.

This hay stuff is just not working. Maybe I shouldn't have just spent $30 on hay stuff from Carolina Pet Supply

March 7, 2008

Heavy & Hot

In the morning, at least for the last month (have I written about this?) I sometimes find Frankie sleeping outside of his box. This is bad because when he does come out to sleep elsewhere, he usually ends up on the cold cement floor. So, in the morning, when I find him, he is cool to the touch. This is getting very frustrating. I don't want him getting a respiratory infection due to cool temperatures just when he is showing signs of recovering from his gastrointestinal infection.

So, must think of a solution. I used to unplug his pig blanket when he is outside for the day and only plug it back in at 10:00 pm. I figure he has gotten plenty warm from being outside and a small cool down is good in the evening. At least he seems to sleep well when he is cool (but not cold). Then at 10:00 pm until the morning, he can warm up again when the pig blanket is plugged in. Yes, I have checked the temperatures and in the box with the pig blanket the temperature ranges from 82º-85ºF.

Last night, at 10:00 pm, when I found Frankie sitting on the cold cement floor, I picked him up (!!!!) and placed him on the pig blanket outside of the box. This morning, he was 75% on the pig blanket.

I have, in the last week, actually gotten up at 3:00 am just to check to see if he is sleeping in or out of his box.

I am guessing humans go through these kinds of frustrations with children, but in the end you love them anyway. Its just they were easier to pick up when they weighed less than 35 pounds. Trouble and difficulties double when they get heavy.

March 5, 2008

Wagon & Snails

Frankie is really feeling better. He demanded to go outside. He walked around in the yard, basked and I assumed (because I didn't see him) grazed on some grass.

I still had to go out when it started cooling down to bring in him. I took an old red wagon and put him inside (will there ever be a day when I do not have to pick him up???). He went straight to bed when he got inside. A good day for Frankie.

When I dragged the red wagon from under the patio there were two very large snails on the inside. I let Brown Eyes and Mama Turtle eat them. First time in a long time that I saw Brown Eyes beg for more. I guess snails on on the favorite list.

March 2, 2008

Good Day Sunshine!

It was such a wonderful, sunshiny day that not only did Frankie get outside for a long day in the sun, but the box turtles got outside to have sun fun, too. All turtles yell 'Hooray!'

I cannot remember when the last time the box turtles got outside but they must be just loving the fresh air and nice warm sun. Looking back on the blog is a definite plus when I want to find out that kind of stuff.

Frankie went for the first walk around the block this year. He wasn't as good as he usually is about walking and there was a lot of toe stepping (my toes) and putting Frankie on the cart. More and more people in the neighborhood recognize Frankie, stopping and say hello. One neighbor said it was about time I got Frankie down to his yard to eat all the dandelions (I do believe Frankie is a little behind on his yard duty).

About Frankie being ill. He is doing better. He takes all his medication. He does get tired a little quicker than usual (probably why he was not as cooperative walking). Dr Atlas told us to give Frankie more heat, up past 85º, but when I do this, especially at night, he comes out of his shelter and sleeps on the cold cement. Just to keep him from getting a chill at night, I have put down various pieces of plywood on the floor near his hut so if he does come out, he will sleep off the cold cement. I've been waking up at 4:00 am just to check on him!