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



October 31, 2008

Happy 5000

A milestone for Frankie....or should I say for Frankie's and Turtles Blog. 5000 hits total! So cool.

Back to Frankie. No more rocks in poop. Had me worried for a day. I got him cuttle bone in the house and out side in the yard so he can have access when ever he wants. I guess when a boy wants calcium he's gotta have calcium.

I set up a nice area in the gecko room for the box turtles. Not quite a turtle table but more like a turtle shelf. 1/3 of the shelf is covered so they can feel cozy and the rest is open to a feeding area and water. If they need a turn around the gecko room I will let them on the floor for a while when I am there feeding geckos. Plus when they are on the floor they can catch loose crickets. Big Turtle is best at this. She gets in the back corner of the room and picks those crickets one at a time as they hit the corner. Every now and again I will see her scramble after one.

Still cold at night but daytime is Frankie time. In the high 60's to mid 70's is fine for Frankie. Lots of basking. At 4:00 in the afternoon, its back inside for sleep.

Usually on Halloween night we bring Frankie to the front door to show off his costume to the kids when they come to the door. Last year he was so grumpy about it that I am going to skip that. Next year, when he gets a new costume we can do that again.

Oh, yea, Frank-O-Lantern took third prize in the AARP Halloween Pet Costume Contest. I am telling you that pumpkin outfit has not only paid for itself but now has bought cat food, reptile vitamins and a big box of cuttle bone. It is going to be hard to top the pumpkin. My ideas for next year.....can't reveal yet!

October 29, 2008

Frost and Rocks

Two nights of frost make Frankie a very grumpy boy. It's almost like he knows the temperature dropped below 32ยบ F during the night and there is no way he is going outside. I am going to have to design a hoist!

I have a pig blanket inside for Frankie to sit on the morning and I set up his overhead heater. He has somewhere to warm up every morning. Then I will show him its sunny outside (around 10:00 am) and he can go outside and bask. The answer from Frankie is NO WAY!

Yesterday, after warming up under his lamp and sitting on his pig blanket Frankie attempted a poop. This needs to be mentioned because Frankie is a poop master and never has problems in this area of his life. Yesterday there was a problem. Only a poop problem would get me within two feet of his rear end while he is attempting to poop! He managed one small poop and it was loaded with small rocks. No good.

I am thinking this is due to too many weeks without cuttle bone which we just got replenished last week. Three weeks without just was too much and Frankie started eating rocks. From what I understand from other keepers, sulcata do this for (mistakenly) calcium.

Because this causes constipation that can become serious, I got Frankie into a hot (but comfortable) bath. I put him in a plastic garden/shop container with the hot water just inside the garage door. I opened the car garage door fully so he could soak and bask in the sun. Since we were just inside the garage the temperature was a bit warmer. That Frankie soaked for a whole hour. He loved it.

I had enough time to soak the box turtles while Frankie soaked. They got a separate container and the water was warm and not hot. They enjoyed it.

So, I will do this all again. Check poop for rocks. See if everything is clear with Frankie.

October 27, 2008

Ooo, Another Layer

Mr. Greg has made some good progress on insulation of Frankie's outside house. After putting up to one and 1/4 inch of Pink insulation, he has decided on cement backer board for the outer surface. He believes this will minimize any damage from Frankie from scratching the sides. I am thinking that the cement may also be beneficial in holding a bit of heat.

I was worried that the inside walls would be difficult to clean but Greg assures me that the cement backer board is washable. He said it is like washing a driveway. Okay, I guess I will see.

He also bought foam to spray in the cracks. He hasn't done that yet. But there is a few things still to do: reflective insulation on the roof, insulation and backer board on the doors.

October 21, 2008

Warmer is Better

Greg was Frankie's hero this weekend. Greg began the process of adding insulation to Frankie's outside enclosure.

Greg used leftover Owens Corning Pink Board insulation from our gecko room. He is piecing in parts on the inside of the enclosure. In some areas he can even go double pieces deep: Better for Frankie. When all that is done he will put something over the Pink Board although he has not yet made his mind up on that.

Once all the Pink Board is installed he is going to put reflective insulation on the top and some insulation along the lid to keep drafts out.

Here is a picture of the initial install. More pictures to come.

This makes it possible for Frankie to safely sleep outside more months out of the year.

October 18, 2008

A Little Trim

Frankie got a beak trim this morning. It was a major task. I use an electrician's flush micro sheer cutter. They are sharp, very small and can trim a little at a time. Frankie does not like getting trimmed so a little at a time is best I can do.
I let him look and smell the trimmer first. Then I touched his legs and then parts of his head. He resisted but eventually I could touch his beak. If I try to cut portions like on would cut carrots then I would be unsuccessful. I cut very small bits at a time, more like an artist at work. After lots of cuts I make some progress.

Frankie does his best to move away from me and I have to scoot along with him. There is no way to keep him from moving. At one point I am laying on my side, face to face with Frankie. Then I feel something wet on my legs and feet. Frankie has peed all over the floor and all over me. I will definitely need a shower after this! But, after 30 minutes, Frankie has a nicely trimmed beak.

October 15, 2008

Sun Welcome

There have been several days of really nice weather so Frankie is a much happier sulcata. He is spending nights inside and in the morning I take him outside. It still takes nearly 15 minutes to get him from his bed (whatever you want to call it) to his yard. He walks slow, he wants to stop and bask, he wants to stop and eat. Pretty typical for a sulcata.

The boxies are going in at night and out in the day. Mama and Brown Eyes usually get half dug in for the night when I find them in the evening. Big Turtle is usually sitting in the open. She looks bewildered because she cannot provide decent shelter for herself. I am sure she is happy to get inside to a more secure stable environment.

Working on getting Frankie's outdoor shelter fitted with reflective insulation. Do I keep saying this? Greg is supposed to be doing this but he is the outside the house worker in the family and by the time he gets home at night he is very tired.

Although this is not turtle related, a very dear tokay of mine, Betty, is under the weather. She is quite old and having some problems. Always difficult in reptiles to decided when its treatment time or if this is her finish time. I am nursing her making her as comfortable as possible.

October 13, 2008

Fall Challenges

Fall is definitely the season the turtles and tortoises are dealing with. After three weeks of no rain we finally got what was needed for Mama Turtle and Brown Eyes to dig into the dirt. Of course, as always, Big Turtle cannot dig into the dirt and must have shelter or I must bring her inside. When its been nicer out at night I've left her outside.

Frankie is dealing with shorter days so he is going to bed earlier and getting up later. A few nights were spent inside and a few nights outside. This week I will be putting reflective insulation in his enclosure to help keep him out a few more nights with cooler temperatures.

Little Acorn is doing nicely although still very shy. In cleaning her up over the weekend I discovered that she had been bitten numerous times by ants. Perhaps this explains why she was walking in the open in the middle of the day when it was very dry outside, no clouds and very warm. Very contrary behavior to the secretive box turtle. But the bites are all healing and I've made sure none are infected. Poor girl.

I've noticed that fewer people read the blogs (not that there were many anyway). I think its because it is so very hard to navigate in the blogs. I know I have trouble getting to my own blog. Links are crazy and the page looks nuts. Hopefully things can get better but then the blogs are not a big priority compared to other very active features at Turtle Times.

October 3, 2008


Today brought an unexpected surprise. My next door neighbor who my box turtles share a fence, found a hatchling three-toed box turlte on her drive. She was so kind to let me know and for not running over it.

Probably its a a month old. Bad time to come into the world as we have no rain in more than three weeks. The box turtle area is so dry that all the grass is turning brown. It was so dry that I decided to bring the adult box turtles in last week.

Poor thing. If I had seen it I could have improved its condition quicker. But I got it inside and its sharing the turtle enclosure with Pumpkin. It was so very shy that I had a difficult time getting it to soak in water. It just wants to hide. When I left the room and returned thirty minutes later it had come out of one of the hides and was wandering around. I tossed it two meal worms and moved away quickly. She ate them. She had to be thirsty and hungry.

Now for a name. I am thinking something fall, just like Pumpkin's name. Squash would be appropriate but I don't want to jinks her. Acorn, squash, potato, corn, wheat, berry: so far I like Acorn. The name sticks unless someone can come up with another one.

October 2, 2008

Little problem makers

We have a cold front coming through so its time to think about insulting Frankie's current outdoor house. I think for now I am going to put up bubble radiant insulation on the top and front panel. That should do well until late November.

But something needed to be done this morning about the growing cockroach problem in Frankie outdoor house. The large outdoor cockroaches have earnestly moved in with Frankie. When I check him at night there may be six or eight on the floor and a few more crawling up the sides. There is no evidence that they do anything to bother him. They simply like to eat his poop (eeegads!), and enjoy the heat and humidity.

But they do bother me. When I clean out his poop I will uncover several and they scatter around seeking a haven. Of course, I do the eeeeewwww-cockroach-dance (oh you know it!) and try to decide if I should attempt squishing them or clear out.

So the risk of ridding the house of them. Pesticides are very risky. They could hurt Frankie. I have chosen to clean out his house (must have been 60 roaches hiding in crevices) and put down a cockroach bate. For the next couple of nights I will have Frankie sleep inside. After a couple days pass I will soap down his enclosure. Hopefully that will have an impact on those little critters from hell.