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



June 23, 2008

Caught With Candy

I was doing my afternoon check on Frankie and found him in the very back by the fence eating candy! It looks like stringy jelly candy with white powder on it, smells like watermelon. It looked as though he had already eaten about 1/4 of it when I arrived.

I took what was left from him (he was pretty upset). I've kept what was left just in case.

I usually do a daily walk in the back because occasionally the apartment people will toss empty coke cans or beer bottles in our yard. Frankie has no interest in any of that. But this is the first time that they've tossed food (that I know of) and I've found him eating it. I am pretty upset. Maybe I will have to put another camera in to monitor that area.

So, I guess I am on Frankie tummy ache watch. Hopefully he is okay and just got away with some contraband.

June 20, 2008

Spot the Turtle

Last week of all fruit for the box turtles. The cricket man cometh! Hard to believe the box turtles would tire of fruits. I brought them some freshly picked blackberries (yum) and they hardly ate any. I guess variety is the spice of life even for turtles.

Frankie is just a sulcata in a yard. He gets up when the sun wakes him but he stays in his enclosure watching until it suits him to come outside which is usually around 8:30 +/-. He starts his yard walk around 9:00. By 9:45/10:00 its warm enough for him to choose a morning shade spot. He may do another walk around before settling under the porch by 10:30. And that is where is stays to nearly 4:00. Then its time for yard walk-about. To his shelter at 5:45 and watch out the door until 6:00. I check on him around that hour and if I stay in the yard he will come out and spend time with me before going back to bed for the night.

During the day I spend time at the computer watching Frankie on Frankie TV. I know his routine so I get to see him lots. Some people have e-mailed me mentioning that they never see Frankie. I think checking Frankie TV for two minutes hardly stands a chance to see him. Checking him according to his routine affords better chances of seeing him. I've told people to e-mail me when they are going to turn Frankie TV on and I will lure Frankie out into the open. So far, no one has taken me up on this.

But for now, Frankie TV is pleasurable for me. I can get some writing done and still watch ole' Franks.

June 15, 2008

Summer Treats

There is a plethora of fruits available for the box turtles as of late but I think they miss their worms. I've had pears, bananas, peaches, blueberries, blackberries (from my yard) and nectarines. Summer diet can be a bit different than a spring or fall diet so I think they can handle it until I get crickets and worms next week.

Frankie is all set up under the porch for hot days. The air conditioner's water hose is near by him so his ground is always damp. No need for me to constantly water him down. The bad thing is Frankie dumps the water from his pool every time he uses it. No water conservation in Frankie's life. I've put various things in the way to prevent him from walking over the edge but its no use. He has taken down tables in his exit out of the pool.

Frankie is enjoying occasional left overs from the box turtle's fruit. Not enough fruit to hurt Frankie because when I cut up fruit for the boxies its only about three table spoons of fruit. Frankie is lucky to get one tablespoon. I just don't want any fruit left on the ground for the fire ants to find.

The Frankie Cam is up and working. PM a request for the web address.

June 11, 2008

More Work Less Talk

I've been spending more time with the turtles than thinking about the turtles which is why there is less to write about the turtles. I think that is normal for good weather. Daily routines are doubled since I have to go outdoors to do my turtle maintenance rather than work them into my daily indoor gecko chores.

But getting outdoors can be tricky for me. As much as I like warmer temperatures and so do the turtles, none of us like the hotter temperatures. So I try to get out early in the day to feed and water turtles. In the late evening when the sun is not directly on the yard, I can get some work done on the yard. Which is what I did last night.

I did another section of the chain link fence. Frankie does not pace the area that is fixed. But it looks as if I will need to buy another section of boarder to get everything covered.

I've let the box turtle area's grass get tall so they get to run around in areas with good cover. When I go looking for them they are tucked under large clumps of grass. Each morning before it gets too hot I clean out their water and refill it for them. Since the "pond" is not set into the ground, I still have to help them in. Digging a hole for the big dish is also on the late evening chore list.

The box turtles are getting lots more veggies mixed in with ripe fruit. I've had banana, peach and pear to mix in. They all love that. Even the baby box turtle is getting more fruit and veggies. Once a week the boxies, young and old, get super worms.

Frankie grazes so no need to supplement his diet. But with the Frankie Cam working, I find myself tossing treats in front of the camera so people can see him. Not everyone can move the camera so they can find Frankie so I try to get him front and center so he can be seen. Just something else that needs to be done.

June 8, 2008

Fence Solution

One fourth of the fences in Frankie's yard is chain link. Chain link fences pose a major problem for sulcata tortoises. Sulcata see through the fence and so they want through to the other side. As sulcata get bigger, pushing through chain link fences become very easy.

We've done several things permanently and temporary to keep Frankie from pushing through. First, we sunk the chain link fence about a foot underground into cement. Helps a lot. Last year I put up black cloth to keep him from seeing through. Frankie didn't mess with the fence where the cloth was hung. But weather finally brought most of the cloth down. This year another solution, semi-permanent, but seems to work better.

I've had some plastic garden strips since Frankie was little.
Attached Image

The strops worked well when Frankie was shorter but since he has grown to see over the top I have not used them for much except for the box turtles.
Attached Image

This spring, I got an idea. I attached one strip to the fence and added a second strip over the top of the first. And it works.Attached Image

Frankie doesn't pace this area of the fence. I still have some more areas to finish but I am about half way through getting it put up.

June 4, 2008

Cool Strategies

Today is the hottest day so far this year - about 90ºF. Frankie is coping by checking out several possible sites around the yard for the coolest, shaded spot. One is up right by the old brush pile, one is back by the fence where he occasionally attempts to sleep during cooler days, and the third is under the porch.

Of course, I like Frankie under the porch. Easy for me to go out and give him his daily carrot. Plus his pool is right there and I can fill it up (cause he is constantly draining it). The dirt under the porch is getting a little muddy and when I was down there today it smelled like "dirty barn". I tossed some Frankie poop out hoping that helps. May have to consider other things to keep it tidy. But the wet ground is part of the cooling process.

[On a side note, I saw Frankie do a big pee outside this morning and thought to myself how lucky I am its summer and I don't have lots of Frankie pee to mop up - Yea!]

Big turtle is sitting in an area right next to Frankie. I suspect that Big Turtle watches Frankie's activities. But Big Turtle has selected a very cool area. She is next to the box turtle's water source which gets dumped and runs right to where she is sitting. Again, cool wet ground is a good strategy.

Me? Well, I don't use AC in the house during the day so its not unusual for temperatures to get into the mid 80's which can feel hot. How do I cool down? Why go outside for a little while and feel that 90 degree heat. When I go inside again the mid 80's feel down right cool. Another good strategy - ice tea.

June 2, 2008

Frankie Cam

Greg is going to install a camera for Frankie! We already have security cameras installed but they don't show anything interesting like geckos or turtles. But this one will show Frankie doing his thing in the backyard. How cool is that? During three seasons it will be really fun to watch Frankie because he is such an active tortoise. I guess during the winter we can keep the birds in bird seed and we can watch them.

I really enjoy watching Frankie from the window and porch so I figure lots of people will like to watch him do his thing in the yard. It will be not only nice but educational. Not everyone gets to experience a sulcata living in a large space. Maybe it will be time to put in another Frankie slide.

Does this mean I will have to start wearing make-up and wearing nice shirts? Gads, when I work with the geckos I wear some rough looking T-shirts. Certainly not for public viewing. Oh, well, I guess that's life. Besides, its all about Frankie!