Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: November 2014



November 17, 2014

Fall to Winter Frankie

It's that time of the year again when I loose all sense and intelligence and start thinking of bringing Frankie indoors.  Yes, the South is headed to the plummeting cold of 30º F or what I think are shell shattering temperatures.

Actually my insanity began the first time it got to 40º F.   I dragged the electric oil heater out of storage, brushed off all the cobwebs, got on the internet to read instructions on how to set the 24 hour timer, searched for a decent extension cord and then placed it in Frankie's enclosure outside his inner cave where the heat will never get to him but it fights off the cold coming in from outside. 

It happens every fall.  I think I can't keep Frankie warm enough outside without doubling my electric bill.

Huge electric bills are nothing new to reptile keepers.  Electric bills are huge even in the summer but when winter rolls around, watch out.  We start turning off lights and computers because every spare cent is going to the geckos and the outside Frankie who are going to enjoy balmy tropical temperatures while the humans bundle up to keep warm inside the house.

Which is how I came up with the idea of shared heat.  Why should Frankie sit outside in an enclosure warm enough to grow orchids all winter long when Frankie could come inside and sleep with the geckos and keep them warm with his heat pad and electric oil heater?

It's genius....expect for one thing.

First is the set of rules for Frankie indoors:  1) Don't eat anything fabric and that includes rugs and couches and clothes, 2) Walk in the middle and don't scrape your shell on all the walls, 3) No rearranging furniture,  4) Poop and pee on the newspapers, 5) No ramming indoors.....

Then I tear all that up because Frankie can't read English and he does what he wants to do even if the table has several glasses full of juice sitting on it. 

But still, here I am clearing out the large bathroom (the gecko's bathroom) and setting up a place for Frankie to sleep.  He is assigned there because the bathroom has a water proof floor.  I don't know if Frankie can take out a ceramic toilet: just hoping he doesn't.

Frankie in the fall is much different that summer Frankie.  For the last two weeks Frankie woke up around 10:00 am, finely emerging from his cave about 11:00 am, and goes to bed around 2:00 pm.  He poops only one or two small poops.  Frankie drinks water but only small amounts and won't go into his kiddy pool full of water even after I threw a dozen carrots in there....he waited on the edge of the pool while I fetch the carrots outta the water.

Shared heat aside, the biggest reason I bring Frankie inside during fall and winter is I miss him.  Even after what follows bringing Frankie indoors.

Frankie's first day inside? Bumper car journey from the back door to the gecko bathroom including near disaster with a coffee table leg getting tangled up with Frankie's front foot, a bamboo basket getting taste tested, a new shell scraps along bathroom wall, rams the garbage can, rams the humidifier......pretty much as expected.

Then I am reminded why I keep two boxes of rags and old towels in the gecko room.  I will never get used to the Niagara Falls worth of instant sulcata pee followed up with a pond worth more pee only this time filled with urates.  Frankie had to saved all his pee from all summer.  There is no explanation for that much pee coming out of one tortoise.

Complain all you will about sulcata poo.  I think it's nothing: nothing next to the overwhelming stench of sulcata pee. Hint:  pick that stuff up fast.  Sulcata pee gets exponentially smellier by the minute.  Towels and rags have to be washed instantly or the stench will drive you out of your house.

Bring fresh grass, please when you're done mopping up the pee
 Tell me again that there are people who raise their sulcata indoors?

I hear it's going to warm up again later this week.  Please say it's true.