Today is the fourth day Frankie is inside after romping around outside for three spring-like weeks. Compare this to a child raised in the open lands of a small Texas town and that child's reactions when suddenly moved to the cramped city of Manhattan. It's difficult.
Is there a good side to Frankie staying indoors? From his view point, no. I can think of a couple of small nice reasons to have him close at hand (singing "Good morning, Frankie") but above all, I can continue my studies into Poopology.
Of all the animals I have cared for (small list – horses, dogs, goat, cats, ducks, chickens, fish, iguana, birds, turtles, geckos, husband...etc.) none have poops as fascinating as the sulcata tortoise's. Is fascinating the right word?
With the help of Sulcata Math (use of mathematics and physics with variances unique to the species and first described by sulcata owner, Farmer) the study of poop is a unique yet highly accurate view into Frankie's physiology.
If I lost a reader for a moment, let me make this simple: what goes into the front end of Frankie comes out the back end of Frankie packed with information as to the well being and even the travels of my sulcata friend. For nearly ten years, I have observed and studied Frankie's output like a scientist.
Getting to the point of all this: I cut a small pumpkin in half to feed to the crickets yesterday. I had no intention of giving half a pumpkin to Frankie who has not grazed for four days. His total food input for these last few days equals a few hands full of hay and weeds daily. It's simple sulcata math:
Frankie + dry hay (DH) = no poop. This is because Frankie will not eat dry hay.
Frankie + hand full of moistened hay (MH) = 1 poop.
Frankie + MH + hand full of weeds (weeds) and grass (grass) = 2 poops.
Frankie + grazing grass & weed divided by available March outdoor foliage growth X 3 hours outdoors = five large poops.
Frankie + unlimited summer outdoor grazing yields 1 compost container of sulcata poops + 30 days sun = sulcata gold.
Oops, got excited and a head of myself.
If the above formulas are changed by adding any vegetable or food content that is high in sugar, moisture or fiber, the output poop is greatly effected.
So (back to yesterday), the cut pumpkin was divided among 5,000 crickets leaving half a small pumpkin. This was set aside for the next day's cricket food. Out of Leann's sight, out of Leann's mind.
Frankie watched my gecko chores for a while then set out to stroll about the room for a bit. Frankie finds ½ pumpkin. I am on the other side of the room. Frankie eats ½ pumpkin.
Poopology says that the resulting effect will be.....interesting, from a scientific view point.
Frankie + handful of MH, grass & weeds + ½ pumpkin = 4 poops moist enough for Frankie to step in and drag along the floor like an Avant-Garde artist tossing paint on a clean white canvas laid prone on the floor. Add 1 quart sulcata pee to the poop and this is Sulcata Art.
Poopology helps me to anticipate potential Frankie messes indoors: how many large beach towels to stow, should I have Monday and Tuesday's newspapers nearby or the Friday, Saturday and Sunday editions, or will I deeply regret not washing all the gecko room rags yesterday when I had the chance.
Paper towels? Ha! There are not enough paper towel coupons or store sales that could make these affordable to use on Frankie's output. This is Sulcata math we are discussing, not how many paper towels are needed in a house with a two year old toddler.
Is the masterpiece on the floor all I should expect from Frankie today? Ha! Poopology teaches me that there will be more.
Pumpkin poop + pee = little brownish droplets that tells a story like blood at a violent crime scene. I can determine Frankie's walk direction, if he has stopped for a moment to consider if a piece of paper on the floor is editable, and if he pushed a cricket container today or if the container was moved yesterday....all from the tell-tell droplets of poop mixed with pee issued from Frankie's rear end.
The masterpiece at my feet is nothing unusual to me. Each color, each texture, each form tells a story about Frankie. Frankie's poop speaks when he cannot speak. I am the scant interpreter. Frankie's official turd inspector. I know a good poop when I see it. I can read the logs. I hope for poop. I worry when Frankie doesn't give a crap.
I am a master of Poopology.
So, excuse me while I destroy a masterpiece.
(Dedicated to my friends at Sulcata Station's Yahoo Group, the Arizona Sulcata Group, and Turtle Rescue Long Island who all taught me all the crap I know.)