It started about a week ago during a heat wave. Frankie brumated on the hottest days. He stayed in his enclosure not bothering to come out to graze or walk which is not so unusual during the hot days. But even in the evening when he would usually come out, he stayed inside.
Then the weather improved, cloudy skies and lower temperatures. Frankie failed to exit his abode. This is unusual. Frankie would usually take advantage of a break in the weather. He would head out for as long as possible to make up for missing days grazing and walking.
I dragged his shelled-self out of his enclosure one evening since his abode needed a poop-mucking after a weeks worth of Frankie offerings. As soon as he abode was poop free, he went right back in. I was suspicious.
The next day, Frankie began marathon visits to his pool. A ten minute soak would advance to a thirty minute soak, and finish around an hour. Usually, Frankie is fan of short soaks. He is more like a drink-n-spill, a poop-n'-go, or a pee-n'-go kind of fellow. Suddenly he acted more like an aquarium turtle than a land tortoise. Water is good for sulcata and soaking is good for a sulcata but an all-day pool party is out of the norm for Frankie.
And then it rained. He interrupted his burmating for sit in the rain. Regardless of how miserable he felt he chose to sit in the rain rather seek shelter. Then it dawned on me that he was soaking in the rain. I've heard of this. The minute it starts raining, sulcata head out into the rain. Sulcata are taking advantage of the rain. Now I understand Frankie's insatiable love of rain.
So here is Frankie, double soaking: in his pool and in the rain. He just had to be waterlogged.
It was a few days into all this that I did take him to his his doctor. I had too. After watching a non-normal Frankie, brooding around and looking sad, I administered the sulcata wellness test: offer Frankie a carrot, his favorite treat.
Frankie turned it down. Uh, oh. So I did the Just-How-Sick-Is-The-Sulcata-Test. I offered him a small bit of banana. Frankie turned it down.
Oh, shells! This is bad.
Into the house to make an urgent appointment with Dr. Atlas. At the veterinarian clinic, the usually exploring, lets-move-the-reception-room-furniture-the-way-I-like-it Frankie sat in a corner. A third ominous sign.
Dr. Atlas took the history: lethargic even when during good weather, reduce poop output, increased brumation, refusing favorite treat, refusing banana.
Dr Atlas took out some land tortoise food and put it down in front of Frankie. Frankie smelled at it and then ate it. When he was finished, Frankie went back into the corner.
“He is eating,” Dr Atlas says.
“Well yeah. But he isn't chasing you around the room trying to get more.”
Dr. Atlas considers this. “There is that.”
Frankie gets an x-rays which revel he has bowels full of poop and “substances”. “Substances” would be non-sulcata approved food items that sulcata eat just to prove they can and do eat anything. The good news is there is no nails, sticks, rocks or plastics. He has no gas bubbles in his intestines which is also good news. But he has lots to pass, and pass it must before Frankie will feel better.
Doctors orders: Take 7 each tabs of Metoclopramide/Reglan each day. Feed aloe vera, cactus plants or any sulcata safe laxative plants and lots of grass and hay. I am ordered on Poop Watch: how many, what is in them.
So Frankie goes home to begin the road to wellness. I go home to start Poop Patrol. Yep, I look through each and every fresh poop looking for the right stuff and wrong stuff. I think Shakespeare said something like “Out, damned poop” in Macbeth, or maybe that was spot or blood, but the point is Sulcata stink hangs on like grass stains white cotton. Thirty minutes later and three soapy hand washings and I can still smell Frankie butt on my hands.
So besides Poop Watch, begins the daily monitor Frankie's behavior: sleep, walking, soaking.
It's a roller coaster. Frankie has better moments of the old walking and grazing fool which is a relief to me. But the other moments are still there.
I'll visit him under the porch and he will just look like the most miserable feeling sulcata in the world: eye semi-open, head hanging, thinking of pooping but nothing happens. He feels so bad he just wants me to sit by him and rub his shell. Not exactly big-sulcata boy stuff but it seems to put him a bit at ease.
If he manages a few poops, he feels like a trillion bucks (inflation). Off Frankie goes to graze and walk around his yard.
On day 7 of Frankie not feeling good, and he is still not feeling good. No poops in the morning. Lots of time in the pool. Lots of sleep under the patio. Miserable sad looking Frankie.
So I sit under the patio with Frankie hoping for poop.
When a sulcata get's sick, recovery is slow. It just takes time. It's up and down, feeling good then feeling bad. Unlike humans, Sulcata tend to take just as long to get well as they do to get sick. It is usually not just something that happens over night. And so an illness may take a while to show up on Frankie's face, or poops, or lack of.
Frankie is miserable. I am miserable. Frankie can't wait to get better. I can't wait for Frankie to get better. It's watch and wait.