Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: May 2013



May 30, 2013

I Did This!

It was a long hard day in the house cleaning and cleaning.  And cleaning.  Cleaning.  You get the picture.  And I did two loads of laundry.  That's enough.

I go into the kitchen and grab a carrot so I can have a leisurely visit with my favorite shelled wonder:  Frankie.  Right off I see him on the upper end near the fence.  I go over to him.


"Frankie! Did you eat the forsythia bush because it took three years to get it big enough to bloom?"  I look at Frankie, "You nit-wit."

Frankie looks at me like he knows a buffalo jumped over the fence and ate the forsythia bush.  "I didn't do that."

I walk around back to make sure everything is clear and safe.  I come across a......well it used to be a knee high pile of branches and it's a strewn across the grass.

"Frankie!  Did you do this?"

Frankie observes the broken scatted twigs and branches.

"I didn't do that."


I find the bird bath turned over.  I filled it this morning.

"Frankie! Did you do this?"

Frankie approaches the turned over bird bath and proceeds to walk right over it.  "Nope.  Didn't do it."

Then I see the Frankie's kiddy pool that is supposed to last through this summer.  A new rip has appeared that may just speed the end of this pool for Frankie.

"How about this?  Did you rip your pool?"

Frankie ignores the obvious.  "Didn't do that."

I should have seen it.  I was looking at the pool and missed the three wooden fence segments I have....had leaning against the chain link fence so Frankie doesn't push through wire.  If that isn't bad enough the compost barrel filled with Frankie poop was caught in the fence-falling-frenzy and is now on it's side and all the contents spilled on the lawn.  And while we are at it let's count the wooden boards crashed and thrown down from their cinder block from being toppled over.

"How about this?"

Frankie walks past me and steps up on the nearest fence that lies partially on the ground and partially on the the compost barrel.  Frankie walks to the highest point on the fallen fence (about 18 inches high).

Frankie was as proud as one can be, like a man reaching the very top of Mount Everest, "I did this!"

May 13, 2013

Once You Learn To Ride a Bike

I walk into the backyard after a long unhappy morning of chores and errands.....(be honest, chores and errands are rarely 'happy').....instead of entering the front or side door because a mile from home the thought of Frankie pops into my mind and it's the first happy thought to arrive today.

Frankie has been settling into his summer life in the yard.  He is busy selecting basking spots, checking out new plant growth, looking over new man-made items that landed there over the winter, and re-establish his dominance over boulders and tubs lest they forget who is the king of the yard.

I catch Frankie examining a pile of wood leaning against his shed.  He spies a suspiciously evil looking white pipe that seems to have returned after he firmly expelled from the yard last fall.  He is having difficulty getting to it as there are three plastic patio chairs lined up in front of pipe.

I see whats going on.

Frankie does not plow through the chairs to reach the offending pipe but instead he sits.  It's a pitiful looking sit.  Frankie knows that pipe is there but lacks the "umph" to do anything about it.  He finally turns around and crawls under the chair I am sitting it.  Wisely, I abandon the chair.

Frankie just sits there.  3/4 of him is under the chair and the rest of him (legs and head) jut out from under the chair.  Sulcata tortoises take up this position when they plan to haul said furniture across the yard. This is why we call sulcata tortoises Furniture Movers.

But Frankie just sits.

Sensing some discontent in that sit, I sit down next to Frankie so we can not communicate about what's wrong. We both stare out into the yard.  Me because I am miserable that there is no juice or ice tea to refresh me after errands, and Frankie, well, I don't know what's got him so preoccupied.  He just stares out into the yard just like me.

I get an idea.

"Frankie.  Is it Miss Umbrella Stand?  Are you missing her?"

I dive under the patio where all kinds of yard items are stuffed during the winter.  Half the stuff should have been thrown away but it was too cold to go outside and throw anything away.  Those kinds of things are  sitting under the patio along with Frankie's stuff I just haven't pulled out yet.

There she lay:  back against the house and covered by a garden hose.  I retrieve the umbrella stand bought five years ago yet it has never held an umbrella.

I drag out the umbrella stand and set it under the Golden Rain Tree.

Frankie gets up and walks calmly to the umbrella stand.  He stops right next to it and considers it for several minutes.  He rams it.  He then half walks over it and stops so his back leg still holds on.  A quick pivot and  Frankie is on top.

He sits there.  Maybe savoring the moment.

He sits there.  Or he has forgotten the umbrella stand's purpose.

And sits there.

Maybe he its the six inch taller vantage point of the yard and he is enjoying the view.

Maybe I just need ten minutes of peace and quiet to recover my Zen.

Then Frankie leans his head down to see if the umbrella stand is still under him and then "Whooooooomp"

1) Family version:  "Frankie hits the ball outta the park and makes a clean home run.  Game Over.  Frankie wins"  The End.

2) Adult version;   For the rest of the afternoon Frankie humps Miss Umbrella Stand stopping only to graze a few bites of fresh green summer grass.  Again and again, he returns to hump Miss Umbrella Stand.

I dunno.  After round two I was too embarrassed to watch any more.

Frankie is back!

[Frankie Tortoise Tails hit a milestone this last weekend:  20,000 unique hits.  This is the second time as Frankie Tortoise Tails had that many hits when it was hosted at Turtle Times.]

May 5, 2013


I am mother to a teenage sulcata tortoise.

I brought out a carrot for Frankie and called to him, "Treat!  Wanna carrot?!  Carrot.  Treat!  Treat! Frankie, do you want a carrot?  I got a carrot.  Come get your carrot."

I got no response.

Frankie's been living outside now for a couple of weeks.  His yard is full of fresh new green grass and dandelions  and summer weeds.  He is getting hours of sun.  Temperatures hover in the 70's.  After a full hour basking in the sun Frankie can take a leisurely walk all the way around his very big yard, some of which he hasn't seen since last year.

I got a carrot (his favorite treat) and I am standing in plain sight of Frankie.  I'm waving the carrot around to catch his eye.

"Look, Frankie, I got a carrot!  Carrot.  Carrot.  Come get your carrot! Come on, Frankie."

Frankie is giving no indication that he has seen me or heard me.  He is about fifteen feet from where I stand and he is grazing away.  When he looks up so he can swallow (sometimes it's frightening when he chews and shallows for three minutes straight and never breath) he seems to just ignore me.

Maybe he is blind in that eye.

I walk over so I am six feet directly in front of Frankie.  "Look, Frankie, a carrot!  You want a carrot?  Carrot.  Carrot.  Treat! Treat!"

He just grazes.


I get down on my knees in front of Frankie and start waving the carrot eight inches from his nose so one of his two eyes will have to see the carrot.

Frankie looks up.  He chews on his grass.  He stares past the carrot like its air.  "Sup!"

Sup!?  I get a sup?! I just wanna know if you want a carrot.

He finely sees the carrot.  It may as well be air. Calmly he reaches out to bite it.  He misses the carrot and gets nothing.

And just like a teenager who is just told  "pick up all your dirty clothes off the floor, NOW," Frankie just walks past me, and the carrot, and heads out to do something else.

My relationship with the teen Frankie has been whittled down to "sup."

Walks around the block, Halloween costumes, parades, birthday cakes and Frankie-songs. Mom's favorite activities may become tragic victims of a moody teenage tortoise.

I'm gonna have to get used to it.