Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: December 2012



December 23, 2012

Unusual Holiday Job

Caretaker needed for large sulcata tortoise.  Tortoise is an 11 year old, 85 pound with the push and destroy power of high torque Ditch Witch and operates independently from screaming humans who believe they are the operators.

That tortoise stays inside our basement gecko room during winter.

He's there now.

We really want to see our family this Holiday Season.

We need a Frankie Sitter.

Must be able to lift 85 pounds of put-me-down-right-now wiggling dead weight tortoise.  Bonus if sitter has genius, mechanical and/or carpentry skills to create an emergency lift for emergency situations and can navigate over terrain from grass, mud, sidewalks, linoleum, and basement floors.

Must put up with copious amounts of urine and dozens bits of poop trailing from the sleeping area, across the gecko room, and often found in mysterious places that there is no explanation how the poop got there.  Often the poop will be mixed with the urine so must be skillful with a mop and tolerant of wringing a disgusting drippy mop five or six times daily as the amount of output from the rear end of the tortoise can only be described as "amazing."

Must be present downstairs in the gecko rooms when lights automatically come on at 7:00 am to check if the beast has moved around during the night and taken down a couple of chairs or tables or shelves.

Monitor weather daily checking for possible sunny skies.  If there is sun, it will not matter if its 30ยบ F, the tortoise will want to go outside and bask. Even if there is no sun the tortoise will want to "see for himself" and may get lost between the back door and the gecko room.

Since the tortoise has refused any type of hay for 11 years the sitter will need to walk or drive to a chemical free area and pick a bag full of grass and weeds every day.  Okay, sure, buy a couple dozen brands and types of hay, cut them up, and soak them -- the tortoise will not eat any of it.  He wants fresh green grass and weeds.  If he doesn't get his fresh grass he will eat newspaper, socks, wash cloths, plastic, glitter and anything that has no resemblance to grass (except hay) because he's hungry and pissed. 

Be on alert between one o'clock to four o'clock in the after noon because there is no predicting when the tortoise wants to come inside.  He will bump the door a couple of times and if it doesn't open he will ram it;  If the door still doesn't open he will turn around to try the back yard gate which we keep closed so he will  turn around again toward the fenced barrier that "keeps him from escaping."  He will then ram through the barrier to look for someone else to shelter and feed him.  

This is important!  No matter what has transpired during the day, no matter how much poop and pee had to be cleaned up, how often he re-arranged the gecko room, how long it took to find pesticide free grass, how often the 85 pound monster has to be picked up, or how much destruction occurred, you must give him a carrot.

The carrot is not a reward. The carrot is the daily peace offering he expects otherwise he will take down a couple of walls, doors and shelves.

In the late afternoon, after he has had his carrot, and has crawled under his table, pile tons of newspaper all over him so he feels like he is safe in his cave.

There is one easy task:  feed and water the cat who will then attempt to love you to death for feeding and watering her.

Frankie doesn't have owners....Frankie has staff.

It's a lot to ask.  We just hope for the best and feel lucky to get an occasional Christmas with our families.

Dedicated to Julie Maguire, Turtle Rescue of Long Island, who does this every day for dozens of rescued turtles and tortoises. 

December 14, 2012

Nice things do happen

Just a reminder that sometimes nice things do happen. 

Not 10 minutes after hearing about the Connecticut school shooting, Frankie, Greta and I went to the local park to give Frankie some sun and graze time. 

I just didn't want to stop and dwell on the events of the day.  I knew that I would hear about it, non stop, for days.  It was just that kind of heart wrenching national tragedy. I felt it was best to move forward with plans to visit the park. 

I am not sure if anyone there knew what had happen.  I hadn't considered that people may feel uncomfortable around strangers. When we arrived at the park we were almost the only ones there.

Frankie is like a magnet.  People started showing up. 

A little girl at the park with her mom just had to meet Frankie.

Very quickly, an empty park fills with people.....gravitating toward the large tortoise.
Frankie dissolves barriers.  Frankie makes people smile.  Frankie's presence just makes the world seem a little nicer.

Thanks, Frankie, for making my life a little better.  And making the lives of people you meet a little better.


December 5, 2012

Finger Pointing

I want to tell you something.  Something that happen.  But I am afraid if I just come out and say it then it's gonna be misunderstood. 

If I just came out and said 'Frankie bit me' it's gonna sound wrong.

So first, before I go further, let's find some common ground by explore the meaning of some things.

Like "bite'.

Usually when someone says they got "bit" by an animal images of teeth and dripping saliva and blood and ripped skin flashes through the mind. Horror stories are conjured up like the werewolf or Cujo.     
This would be giving you the wrong idea of what happen.

Not all animals bite.  Well, not all animals open their mouth intending to put your flesh between their teeth so they can purposely infect pain and injury. 

Sometimes it's not the animal's intention at all.  It's even very possible that the said-animal never intended to touch human skin at all much less pierce the thin surface and cause bloody harm.

Possibly it may not be their fault at all.  It could be said that said-person knew better than to put their finger into fore-mentioned animals's mouth.

Putting skin or finger or hand into the mouth of an animal who otherwise does not want your skin, finger or hand in their mouth could very well be the fault of the skin's owner.

So, if we are are all on the same page and everyone is thinking is unclouded by previous experiences and notions, I can explain how my finger got into Frankie mouth.

There is not a lot of grass in the yard.  Frankie has to do a lot of walking to find a mere blade of grass over 1/4" long.  As it's colder out there Frankie doesn't even want to do a lot of walking to find a mere blade of grass.  So as it's colder outside and there isn't much for Frankie to graze on I step in to supplement his food by bringing him grass and weeds.

Sometimes I find some grass and weeds in other areas outside of Frankie's yard.  There are a few areas that are chemical free like my garden.  When I clean up the weeds from the garden area naturally I bring those to Frankie.

I found a very small bunch of green weeds mixed with a few blades of grass in the garden.  Not a handful but a Frankie mouth size bunch that I knew he would appreciate.

The small bunch fit nicely on the end of my fingers so I presented it to Frankie for consumption, thumb up, fingers curled under, greenery out front.

Frankie nipped the greens very gingerly.  He wasn't greedy.  He took the greens very calmly, and gently, along with a slightly protruding middle finger.

And there was a very slow tug back and forth between Frankie with a firm hold on a middle finger and the person responsible for puttinng that finger there.

Quite aware of the sheering jaw power of an 85 pound sulcata tortoise my first thought was just how much of a finger nub was coming off the end of my finger.  There was no terror.  I was quite calm.  Surprisingly there was no pain. (yet)

Frankie wasn't trying to bite down hard.  He was just trying to hang on to his greens while bring his head down to a comfortable swallowing level.

Which is why I think I still have my whole middle finger.

A couple of firm spine tingling tugs and my fingernail scraped against Frankie's botton jaw and was free.

Frankie's little bundle of greens disappear into his mouth.  My mouth gaped open in surprise at the appearance of a whole finger  And no blood.

On my right middle finger is a very sinister deep red-purple bruise across the whole finger nail. Looking at it one wouldn't suspect that it had been slammed in a car door.  Except for the odd but telling red striped badge of horror on the nail, the rest of the finger is remarkable undamaged.   ...and it does hurt.

What I am saying is Frankie didn't bite me.

I put my finger in Frankie's mouth where it shouldn't be.

And lived to tell.