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



September 26, 2012

Frankie Boost

I am really fed up with the world....really, really fed up.  My tolerance meter is busted, I've lost all patience with people, I am sad, unhappy and thinking another 20 years like this makes me want to scream.

Who doesn't feel like this every now and then.

I need a re-boost.

I head outside to spend some quality time with Frankie.

Frankie is already inside his cave for the night but since it's not even 5:00 pm I take the chance my friend is still awake.

I lean over and pull back the plastic strips that cover his door keeping drafts and rain out of the cave.

No sooner than I peak inside that I see Frankie get right up and head right out the door to see me.

My blood pressure just drops like a 50 pound weight tossed off  a tall building.

Frankie is just ecstatic to see me.  I head up to the central part of his yard where recent lawn mowing has trimmed it down to a nice soft coosh of  green softness.  I sit and watch Frankie walk directly to me.  It's a visit of buddies.

Frankie gets up to my tennis shoes.  A quick whiff confirms it's me and he settles right next to me for a firm shell rubbing. 

Best friends.
Satisfied from a thorough shell buffing, Frankie strolls past me and then turns around and walks straight back to me.  I know what this is about. He is coming back for a second round of shell rubs but this time he wants equal time for the other side of his shell.

What's sup?

He repeats the drive-by shell rubbing all the way past my feet, turns around coming back for more.  This time Frankie adds a little grazing as he receives a third round of shell rubbing.

Satisfied that I've done a good job, I sit up on my knees and walk (on hands and knees) beside him as Frankie grazes a few bites of grass.

A little walk together.
Frankie and I continue our side by side stroll around the yard.  If I see a particularly nice patch of grass I pat the area with my hand and Frankie obligingly grazes that bunch of Leann-selected greenery.

This goes on until a very rude fence stops our forward progress to greener grass.  I stand up and ask Frankie if he wants to walk around with me.  Frankie could well just have been a dog as he quickly turns around and joins me at my heals to walk back across the lawn.

When we reach the other side of the yard we both sit again.  I oblige him with another shell rub.  We sit just contemplating a world that feels a little less hostile and a whole lot more quiet.

After many, many moments of peace sitting next to Frankie who has brought my world back to a  manageable, happy place I ask him if he is ready to go in.

I am absolutely certain that Frankie has not learned a lick of English but he responds to my question by turning about and walking down the hill and straight to his cave.  Frankie pushes past the plastic strips covering his door and into the recesses of a hay covered bed. 

I watch as Frankie disappears for his beauty rest.

Rejuvenated and relaxed, I head back into the house with my patience, love and tolerance levels filled to the brim ready to be contributing part of my family and friends again.

Frankie is worth his weight in gold.


Dedicated to Michelle Renea Wales who knows exactly what I mean.

September 14, 2012

How to be a Healthy Turtle (Without Even Trying)

Frankie went to see Dr. Atlas for his annual veterinarian check-up.

There really wasn't much to it. 

Clean from the day's previous bath and well rested following fourteen hours of sleep, Frankie was swept into the car before he got a good bask or even a decent yawn.

Never take Frankie anywhere and expect him to behave if he's basked to toasty hot.

Frankie behaved himself in the car.  There was a little rumbling from the back seat but well within reason.  Frankie walked directly into the office with little fuss.  There was a short wait in the front waiting area and Frankie acquainted himself with the whole area by walking the entire space.

Frankie knows what a door looks like even when it's closed.  At each door Frankie would pause as if to see if it would magically open.  Eventually one opened for him and he proceeded to the examination room. 

The examination room is an awfully small space for at large Frankie. Greg and I moved all chairs and stools to the center so Frankie could pace along the wall.

He was like a robot sweeper or Roomba.

Frankie would walk along the perimeter of the room until he bumped into a wall.  He then manuever himself around the corner and then walk along the next wall until he got to the corner where he would again bump bump bump until he was sure the wall was not going to move out of the way.  Again he would manuver the corner and proceed along each wall and the entire room perimeter...about 60 times.

Greg and I stayed in the center of the room watching Frankie pace around all four walls.  Occasionally we would put a chair against the wall.  Frankie would either walk under it or drag it around with him.

Luckily, the Vet-tech came and Frankie got to walk the back area of the office so he could weigh in on the Big Animal Scale.

  He last weighed in at about 70 pounds.  I was betting he weighed about 100 pounds.  I was wrong.

Weigh in.
Frankie weighed in at 84 pounds.  I am thankful for the 16 pounds less than I expected.  It's still 84 pounds too much.  I can't pick him up.

We returned to the examination room to wait for Dr. Atlas.  Frankie did another 20 laps around the room.

Then Dr. Atlas came in.

Frankie on the table.  Dr. Atlas checking Frankie over.

Eye see you!
Any nasal discharge? No.  Eats well.  Poops well.  Drinks lots of water.  Lives outside.  Walks alot.  Sleeps.  Basks.  Grazes in a large yard.  Diet is 99% grazed grass and weeds, 1% vegetable treats.  No fruits.

Let's do a fecal check.  Did we bring a fresh poop?  No?  Okay.  Let's take a direct sample.

Good luck with that.

Very undignified.
So Frankie can retain some sense of dignity, we decided to forgo details or close up photographs.  

Fecal float revels Frankie has been a very good turtle.

Results of the visit, examination, fecal check:  Frankie good to go for another year.

"What ever you're doing works.  Stay with the same formula," says Dr. Atlas, "Frankie is one healthy tortoise."

Whooo hoooo!

What can I say?  Frankie loves to see Dr. Atlas and the whole staff at Riverview Animal Clinic.  They love to see him.  They even put him on their Facebook page!

When you're a healthy tortoise a trip to the veterinarian is a great adventure.

See you all next year!

September 12, 2012

Here Comes The Sun

Fall signals a whole new routine for Frankie.  Gone are the long hot hours of harsh sunlight, hiding from the glaring sun and the heat.  In the fall, Frankie changes from The Hider to The Seeker.  

The September sun is lower in sky and no longer shines direct on Frankie's cave.  Nights are cooler so Frankie sleeps deeper inside.  It's a balmy 70ยบ range all night in the cave which is more than comfortable for him.

When morning comes Frankie must exit the cave for more warmth.  He wants his shell temperature to rise up to the high 80's.  That will take some sun. Frankie seeks a spot in the middle of the yard.

Fall also brings more cloud coverage.  One moment there is sun and the next POOF and it's gone.  The Seeker needs patience to catch the sun. 

Waiting for the Sun

Oops!  Got caught yawing.

Fell asleep.

There's the Sun!

September 4, 2012

Like the First Morning (Spring Pace)

Frankie wakes.

Frankie wakes not because sun streams into his eyes.  No sound has roused him from his slumber.  Frankie wakes because he's had fourteen full sleeping hours to restore his beauty. It's just time to wake up.

He doesn't stir.  Eyes still closed, his first waking-world swirls through his nose.  He inhales nose-flavored air mixed with hay and a dash of tortoise poop.  The scent is not's familiar and comforting, like an old country horse barn, the warm scent of home.

Frankie is comfortable in his snugly place.  The warm cave temperature mixed with humidity soothes his scales just as water soothes a fish.

Frankie's legs are close to his shell like a hug, his head rests on a slightly extended front foot.  Frankie stretches the leg from under his chin in an quiet under-breath yawn and stretch.

His awareness grows as he feels his bigness in a warm, shadowy, moist and snug space:  it's everything that makes his cave Home Sweet Home.  

His eyes are still closed yet in his waking state pupils-under-cover sense light slipping in from the front cave entrance, defusing around the corner and into the spot Frankie rests.  The daylight gently knock-knock-knocks on Frankie's translucent pink eye lids.

Frankie lifts his head for a first full taste of the morning.  

Eyes open to the inviting light confirming to Frankie it's time for a bigger body stretch accompanied by a wide open mouth yawn.  Frankie's body yearns to move so he does a compact feet tucked under shuffle-about turning away from the corner and toward the cave opening. 

The busy sounds of the early bird streams into the front entrance enticing Frankie to boldly lift up and stomp resoundingly to the cave's entrance.

Frankie looks out from his threshold to see all that the day offers.

This morning has been the very best favorite part of Frankie's day.

Frankie hasn't even stepped outside yet.

It's gonna be an adventure!

Written for and dedicated to Spring Pace who died August 25, 2012.    Spring slipped off the tight shoes of a human life and returned to the universe sparking bits of star dust.