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June 24, 2009

Beat the heat

Hello. Frankie here with some cool summer tips.

First, humans complain way too much about the heat. Humans have build in "weather regulators" to cool their bodies where us "cold blooded" tortoises can't sweat. Our tortoise bodies don't have anything built-in to fix body temperatures, so we use our big sharp brains to stay cool. We're not as dumb as humans think.

We sulcata tortoises love the sun. The sun helps us digest our food, warms our bodies, helps calcium absorption, and most important, supply light so we can walk everywhere and put away a lot of grass. When the sun goes down we just can't do these things very well. Our shells are hard but we can really bump our heads running into tree stumps in the dark. We are just day creatures.

But that sun can get to be too much. After a while the sun gets us so hot that we could be come crispy tortoises on the half-shell. Try to avoid this at all possible. I have quite a few things to "keep cool", so here are my favorites to stay cool when its hot.

Get a good sized kiddy pool. We need a space cut out so we can get in otherwise we let out all the water climbing in. I like my kiddy pool in the shade. After a couple of hours in the sun the water gets hot and that just defeats the purpose of getting into the water. If I wanted to be boiled, I'd been born a shrimp! Get into the pool and kick some water over the shell and enjoy the cool. Help yourself to all the water you can drink. If you just can't help yourself go ahead and poop or pee in the water: just be sure to call out the human to clean it out and fill it up with some new fresh clean water.

As long as you got the human outside, have them turn on the hose and spray down the old shell with some water -- remind the human that spraying in the face is just not all that funny. A cold spray of water over the shell goes a long way to cooling off.

If you are lucky, you got a mud hole somewhere. Now this is heaven on earth for a sulcata. Get in and splash some mud all over yourself. And it's just too bad that human has fresh laundry hanging just within the mud zone. Don't give it a second thought: Just sit there for a while splashing mud everywhere.

For those really long hot afternoons, find a nice large green bush to sit under. This is one of my favorite ways to pass the afternoon. Trees do just fine too. Take a snooze, count the birds or watch nature in action.

My personal dream is to dig a big hole into the ground about 8 to 12 feet long. These make for some super cool places to hang out during hot days. Poop and pee keep tunnels nice and humid so don't be shy about laying some around. I selected a real nice spot for my tunnel but my human put me into "time out" when she found me digging under the air condition system. Now I am not allow any tunnels. Instead the humans supplied me with a big outdoor house. Yea, just wait until they go on vacation again.

Outdoor houses are nice but some humans don't realize that sunlight can turn these things into ovens. Make sure your human puts your shelter under some shade. My human has a tent over my house and it keeps the house nice and cool. Still you can't beat a big tree.

In my yard I happen to have a big pile of leaves in a shaded spot under a tree. I dig under the leaves until I get to the cool soil underneath. This is about as nice as it gets.

Well good luck you fellow sulcata. I hope you got a good human who keeps a big yard for trekking around in the morning with lots of spots for kicking back when it gets hot. While you are out grazing try not to eat all the bushes in the yard: you may just need these for some nice cool shade.

Your friend, Frankie

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