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



April 29, 2008

How the Wicked Witch Really Died

The difference between a dog and a sulcata is 15 minutes.

If the weatherman says you have ten minutes to get to your safe area, that a tornado will be at your house in 15 minutes, you will probably die if you have a sulcata outside.

A dog will get inside in 20 seconds but the sulcata will be the death of you as it meanders toward the house -- "oh, look, a dandelion! I just have to stop and eat that!" -- As time ticks away and the sulcata hasn't even gotten ten feet, you have to run outside to drag it inside.

Meanwhile, a tornado swoops down and carries you and your sulcata to the great Emerald City. Splat. And that is how the Wicket Witch really died.

April 27, 2008

Walking on eggs

I'ts Sunday evening and I just found Brown Eye (box turtle) laying eggs. Took her about 30 minutes to complete the process (she had already dug the hole when I found her). Three eggs were laid. Its been around a year since she been around a male so they may very well be fertile. I am treating them as such.

I'ts going to be in the low 40's tonight so all turtles are in for tonight and tomorrow night.

Frankie did fantastic at the Walk for Autism. Here are some of my favorite pictures.

April 24, 2008

Two Days To Go

Two days until Frankie walks in the Walk for Autism. Melanie Jones, who invited Frankie to the walk, e-mailed me that she was pleased that Frankie was planning to attend. She liked his fundraising page ( ). I also had contact with Kathy Sealey from the Birmingham News who is looking forward to seeing some pictures of Frankie at the walk. I am bringing the camera and a walking buddy so someone can take pictures.

We are expecting some scattered rain on Saturday. Good news that it will not be so hot and there will be some clouds. No so good if it gets too cool or Frankie doesn't want to walk. But I have the cart so I could pull him - oh, that isn't great news either. I wish they would give more information about the walk like how long the walk, on cement or track, etc. so we can all prepare.

I have to get dressed, etc. so I can take Frankie on a walk around the block this morning. We went for a short walk yesterday afternoon but it got too hot and Frankie headed for bushes to cool off. When we got home he went into the garage to cool off. After his temperature reduced he went into the back yard to resume mowing responsibilities.

April 22, 2008

Earth Day Activities

Frankie got to sleep inside for probably the last time this spring. So he had to tear up the gecko room one more time for good measure. He very much wanted a walk this morning when I got him outside but I had a load of work to do so I sent him off to the backyard to do some Earth-friendly mowing. First he acted as a solar power battery and got sun-energized. Then he did a couple of laps around the yard. When he finally settled into some grazing, oops, I mean mowing, Frankie looked a bit hot so I hosed him down with some water after filling his pool with clean fresh water. Right now he is mowing the very back area so I can't see him but I can hear him walking though the leaves.

Box turtles stayed inside last night, too. I think they are ready for outside sleep, too. With the box turtles I still need to check on them nightly to see that they are "tucked" in securely. Big Turtle cannot dig into good spots and can sometimes leave herself exposed. With her, I have to be extra careful to see she is okay nightly.

For my Earth day activities I planted a tomato plant, a red bell pepper plant, some basil and parsley. Love fresh garden foods. Still have more to go. I also replanted a fern. I brought out houseplants that were inside for the winter. Back porch was cleaned up and my porch umbrella is up. Now I can watch the turtles in comfort and shade.

April 20, 2008

Ode to Go

Sulcata seem to be eager about sharing their "natural functions" when visiting schools and groups. I usually show up carrying a basket of towels and cleaning agents just for these "accidents." But its my techniques to prevent Frankie accidents when he visits groups that my friends rave about.

Just recently I put together "2+2" that a female turtle equals Frankie faucet (i.e., if Frankie gets around a female turtle, he nearly always pees). So before taking Frankie to the church the other day, I put the full prevention plan to work.

First, I put Frankie on his heated pig blanket in the morning which almost always gets the poop machine going. Then I brought out one of my female box turtles for Frankie to sniff. When Brown Eyes was set in front of him for a few minutes Frankie peed. So, before Frankie was packed into the car for the trip to the church, he had done both "business" for the day. At the church there was no "funny business".

All this got rave reviews from sulcata friends who know all too well about generous sulcata outputs during outings. I mentioned that if I could bottle that female turtle smell then I would not have to expose the poor female box turtle to horny Frankie. Phoebe, on of my friend sulcata owners, thought I should call the bottled scent "Ode to Go". Priceless!

April 18, 2008

Frankie goes to church

Frankie had a special day visiting Huffman United Methodist Church Day Care Center. Frankie was so very well behaved. We expected initially to see about twelve children for about thirty minutes. But who can resist Frankie. I think he saw the entire school (except babies) and was there for forty five minutes. We were in the center court yard which made management of Frankie the Walking Fool in one area. Left to his own mind, he would have walked down the street to the next county. He is just like that.

At the school he just walked and walked and walked and walked. One endless walk all over the courtyard. Children simply gathered in areas and Frankie would walk by them. Students touched his shell and some got to feed him dandelions and carrots (the only time Frankie wasn't walking)

We took a picture of him. Of course, he didn't sit still for the photo. We had the children in a group and then got Frankie to walk in front of them. The photographer got to be on the ball to get Frankie's picture.

When we got back home, Frankie was ready to take a long walk in the neighborhood. I was exhausted. He went into the yard. I could really use a nap - but the day is early and I may still get one in.

Special mention and thanks to Kim Rafferty for the invitation.

April 16, 2008

Why We Like Spring

The last cold snap has passed (hopefully) and we have lots of spring-like weather to look forward to. Of course, spring weather is turtle weather! Probably the favorite time of year for turtles.

The box turtles love it simply because it means getting out of the house (or hibernation for those down for the winter). Their diet can include insects, bugs, grubs, slugs and snails - yea!

Frankie is ecstatic! His favorite temperatures are in the high 70s with full sun. Yep, 80s get too hot and 90s are just way too hot. The reason being is that the sun really brings up a sulcata's body temperature to its preferred temperature. So ambient temperatures outdoors don't need to be HOT for sulcata to be happy rather the temperatures need to be warm with sun.

So, here are some pictures of Frankie enjoying the sun and fresh grass.

April 12, 2008

Training for the Walk

Frankie is in training for the Walk for Autism. Today we went to the Leeds Park that has a 1 mile walking trail and guess what....Frankie walked the whole trail. He did a very brisk walk, had few difficulties, and didn't get overheated. I bought his skateboard in case but never needed it. That is real progress on his training. Cool! I guess it took about 1 hour and 1/2 to finish. Or at least that is how long it took to get to the park and back and walk the mile.

What is really neat is three people have donated $45 for Frankie's walk. Having Frankie invited to walk at the Walk for Autism is such an honor, but for him to be able to help too is really great, thanks to his benefactors. I have sent thank you letters with Frankie's picture to the donors.

Frankie enjoyed the rest of the day at home. We have a cold front coming through but hopefully we will have a little sun so Frankie can get outside - otherwise he will go crazy! "Let me outside to walk!!!"

April 10, 2008

Sun and No Sun

Although spring is here, I am having to bring turtles in at night. Mostly because morning sun is not all that reliable. This morning, I didn't turn Frankie's heat on because we were expecting some sun this morning. So, I let Frankie outside (moving slowly to the yard he was) so he could warm up under the expecting sun -- which didn't really materialize. Finally, I brought Frankie in at 11:00 am to warm up on his pig blanket.

45 minutes later, I go downstairs and enter into a Frankie disaster area. Guess I am getting used to it -- pee & poop everywhere. He was outside for two hours but waited until he came back inside to do his duty. As I say, I am getting used to it. So, since he was warm, I let him outside.

I am also pleased that Frankie is his old self. Nothing like what he was like in February when he sat around, stayed in his box and refused to eat. Checking on him for the rest of the day, he was all over the yard grazing and walking. He wanted a walk but I was really needing to do things in the house and then later in the afternoon it was getting a bit hot outside.

Box turtles are out in the day and in at night. When I fed them yesterday, only Brown Eyes was real hungry. Big Turtle ate just a little and Mama Turtle didn't eat. Maybe they are finding food outside. That would be nice.

April 7, 2008

Frankie is Walking for Autism

Frankie is walking in Walk for Autism on April 26th. He received a special invitation from teachers at a special needs school he visited. Yep, he is the only tortoise walking!

If any of you are interested in sponsoring him, even $5, it would be awesome. Friendly request - no pressure.

On Sunday, we went to the park to practice. We walked on the walking trail. Frankie walked about a mile completely enthusiastically and at a very brisk pace. He did stop to eat every dandelion brought by kids in the park but it was obvious, he was one serious walker.

April 4, 2008

Frankie is so Kind

(Since Turtletimes was down this last week, this would be April 4th entry)

I got up extra early this morning -- Greg had a foot therapy appointment so at 6:00 am when I went downstairs Frankie was very asleep.

Finally got back down later in the morning. I guess Frankie knew I was going to mop today because he was kind enough to give me back the half of the mop that he ate the other day. Nothing like stringy poop. It also looks he thought to himself that as long as Leann has to sweep and mop today, I might as well give her something really good to mop up. Frankie is so kind to think of me.

While I was trying to clean up a bit, Frankie banged his head on the door to go outside (literally banging his head - new habit). I had to stop everything to walk him outside - I like to make sure he gets all the way into the backyard since he could knock down my flimsy barrier. Soooo, 8 minutes later (he had to think about going outside once he saw clouds), he finally gets all the way to the back gate, stops, turns around, and heads back inside. Fine! He will be underfoot all day 'cause the weather is expected to get worse, not better.

I have a chipmunk who considers my yard part of his territory. Well, yesterday he shows up with a girlfriend and three youngsters. You could tell the youngsters because while the adults were seriously scratching out seeds for a meal, the three young ones where playing grab-butt with each other never wandering more than three feet from the ground hole entrance. Wonder what they will think of Frankie?