"If I had wanted to raise a sulcata tortoise in Seattle-like weather, I would have moved to Seattle!" So I said to Greg a few days ago.
"It's colder there." He says.
When you own a 70 pound sulcata is there a difference? ….we will get back to this.
Alabama makes for a fine place to own a sulcata. We have lots of sun - summer through winter - and a mid to high amount of humidity. For a captive bred sulcata this is really about perfect. They are, after all, from the sub-Sahara semi-arid areas of Africa. Contrary to the general public, this is not desert. Sulcata get a good deal of humidity during the rainy season or they provide their own humidity in their underground burrows -- they pee and poop where they live.
This means they do not like it wet. In fact, if I had to describe the humidity they like I would have to say it's like what a good violin needs: humidity from 30% - 40%. Alabama can do this easily, with some extra humidity to boot which seems to benefit the captive bred sulcata over its family still in the wilds of Africa.
But 60% to 100% relative humidity for three weeks is going to far! And more than 6" of rain in a month when Alabama should only have less than 5"! Nearly 80% cloud coverage all month! And we have more than a week left to the month.
And Frankie is miserable.
Makes me miserable too.
Frankie had his last invited public appearance this last weekend at the Leeds Downtown Folk Festival. Anticipating really hot weather, we only planned on Saturday morning until it was impopssible to keep Frankie outside walking on asphalt. Instead, on Saturday Frankie shows up rain drenched.
Silly us, we thought this may be a good thing. He would not run crazy through the street knocking down art exhibit and little children. And we were right. He was slow with no interest in terrorizing anyone. Instead he spend the entire time attempting to walk under cars where some remaining engine warmth was beckoning him in for some comfort.
Lifting a cold 70 pound sulcata back into the car was no easy task. If you are interested in owning a sulcata and can't accomplish this task, maybe a pet rock would be a better choice for the family.
When we got home (again lifting a cold 70 pound sulcata out of the car) the choice was put him outside where sulcata should be for the summer which is what I preferred. Or, I could give into those puffy cold pleading eyes crying to mommy "Where is my sun? What have I done that is so bad that you've taken my sun away for two weeks."
So I lead my cold, slow, wet, 70 pound sulcata into the gecko room. Drag out stored away a livestock heating pad and a ceramic heater. Set it up for Frankie. Go outside in the rain (big fat rain drops) and cut a bag full of grass, weeds and clover. Bring the wet greens back to Frankie who is finally snuggling under his warm lamp and sitting on his warm pad.
Frankie looks up to me with those deep back round eyes. Am I mistaken or is he saying "Awe, Mom, you are so wonderful to me. I love you."
Sure he does, delivering two steamy poops right on cue.
If you live in Seattle, I recommend a pet rock. If you just got tears in your eyes over a couple of poops and think owning a 70 pound bag of cement sounds like fun, go adopt a sulcata. I got tears in my eye too but I think it was from the steam off the poop.