Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: December 2011



December 5, 2011

Cat on a hot tin roof

Today was big chore day in the gecko room which includes the yuckiest job of all:  cleaning cricket containers, all eleven of them.  Each box has about 1,000 or so crickets.  These boxes must be cleaned or the gecko will stink.

It's a nice morning and so I decide to do the dirty deed in the garage where I can open doors and get a nice breeze and fresh air.  What the heck!  I will make it a party.  I drag the box turtles out so they can get some sun.  I put Rose, the water dragon, on her leash and set her in a nice place in the sun.  Newt the cat joins the party to catch some rays too. 

The final participant of this fine gathering?  Frankie of course!  He however goes outside the garage to his favorite basking spot.

There is a reason for this madness:  Birmingham is expecting rain for the next three days so the chosen critters get some sun before everyone is shut indoors. 

Now to my work.  I drag all 11 cricket containers into the garage and commence cleaning:  scraping cricket poop, dried fruit, dead crickets, and old food from each container.  I do this all the while the thousand live crickets are in the container.  It's not a job for the dainty.

Bump!  Bump!  Bump!  Looking outside I can see Frankie banging the side door.  Hmm.  Too much wind?  Too many clouds?  I am reluctant but I like having Frankie around.  I open the other door so Frankie can walk into the garage out of the wind.

Frankie comes into the garage and walks around a bit.  He quickly gets bored and decides to inspect my work.   This gets more than mildly annoying.  Frankie gets up against the container and tries to get his head over the side to look inside.  Of course when he does this the container moves.

The cat nearly get's run down by the Frankie driven container so she jumps to a higher area in the garage.

"Really, Frankie?  Do we have to do this?"  Frankie is having fun so yes, it has to be done.

I retreive the container so I can actually get some cleaning done.  Frankie just moves on to another container.  Eventually he is moving all the cricket containers around the garage.

This goes on for fifteen minutes.  Frankie pushes, Leann retrieves, Frankie pushes, etc.

Then Frankie's keen eye spies an orange object in one of the clean cricket containers.  It looks like a carrot.  He wants the carrot.  Frankie attempts to get his head over the side but this only causes the container to move again.

This starts a chain reaction of one cricket container driven into another cricket container which bumps into two more cricket containers.  Frankie, in his attempt to get the carrot, is driving a number of containers across the garage.

Newt the cat has no intention of leaving her safe overhead spot and Rose the water dragon decides to find higher grounds as it is no longer safe on the garage floor.

I try to get control of the situation.  I throw Frankie the carrot out of a cricket container that's been push up on my foot.  He doesn't notice.  Three more carrots later and Frankie spies one on the floor.   While Frankie is eating, I safely escape the containers surrounding me.

Did you note the huge error?

Frankie now absolutely knows that those orange items in the containers are carrots.  He must have all the carrots.  Commence a new and fervent cricket container drive.

I can't just halt rescuing the containers (the mess would be horrific) so I throw carrots around Frankie to distract him.  It's not working because I don't have enough carrots to slow down an 85 pound sulcata.

It's a loosing battle.  Frankie isn't gonna quit. The cat and water dragon look terrified.  I am out of carrots.

A brilliant idea crosses my mind.  There is a big pumpkin in the gecko room.  I scoot Frankie back six feet from the nearest container and run for the pumpkin.

I get back just in time to plop the Frankie-sized pumpkin between him and cricket containers.

Awe, shells and tails!  No knife.  It's in the gecko room.  Frankie is is staring at the pumpkin so I have a few seconds to fetch knife.

When I get back Frankie is in an utter state of confusion.  He is total unsure of what he should do with the pumpkin:  should he eat it or date it?

With no patience to see if a romance will commence, I cut a large slice out of the pumpkin.

Frankie pops out of his X-rated fantasy world as I a big slice of pumpkin is set next to him.

For the first time in 20 minutes, I feel in control of the garage again.  Containers are set against the wall.  The cat is taken down off the shelf and the water dragon returns to basking again.

A dozen bite sized pieces of pumpkin are line up toward the back door, past the drive way and into Frankie's back yard.  Having finished the big piece of pumpkin, Frankie takes the bait and starts eating his way to the backyard.

Once again, disaster is averted.

I do my very best to explain to people what it's like to own a big sulcata.  They think all the information they need is in the books and care sheets.  All that husbandry stuff is only 10% of what you got to know.  The other 90% is pure experience.