Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: June 2015



June 21, 2015

The Bissell Pro Heat Carpet Cleaner

When the summer heat index reaches 109ºF it prompts me into immediate action to keep Frankie cool.  The temperature is actually only 92º which isn't really all that hot (having spent years in Phoenix, Arizona) but when the humidity is 65% then it's hot.

Frankie doesn't sweat and he is cold-blooded which for anyone deprived of an honest high school biology class that just means that Frankie is the temperature of the area he sits for more than 10 minutes.  For anyone desiring a moment of intellectual stimulation, Frankie is poikilothermic:  an organism that is incapable of thermal homeostasis.  

During these really hot days Frankie, and all other cold blooded animals, will do what is required to be somewhere cooler and more comfortable.  The sulcata tortoise will do this:

Frankie, and other sulcata, will dig a huge tunnel into the cool earth.  A tunnel up to 12 feet long and deep enough that one could convert it into a cistern when not occupied by said large beast.  Never to allow Frankie to dig again I pledged to do one thing:  accommodate Frankie's need for security and comfort in his preferred temperatures zone.

Thus began the ten year quest of the perfect outdoor habitat for Frankie.  We've done well. We've invested much money and effort.  Sometimes it works.  The extreme temperature is most challenging.  Once temperatures begin to rise above 92º F it often required serious Frankie temperature intervention.

In the past Frankie has been happy to sit and soak in water.
For some reason this year Frankie is afraid of his kiddy pool and will not go inside willingly.  I am tired of dragging him inside the pool only to get trampled as he runs back out.

As I do every summer, I try to make cool areas cooler by adding shade cloths.

Yesterday I took a hand towel, seriously dampened it (wet would be a disaster) and put it into the freezer for 30 minutes.  I then took the frozen towel and placed it over Frankie's shell.  About eight minutes later it softens enough to comform to Frankie's shell providing him with coolness for an hour or so.

These simple techniques seem to fall short today.  I checked in with Frankie and he was just looking miserable.  Hot and miserable.  So I do the one thing I shouldn't but those sweet black eyes just looked so miserable.  I let Frankie come inside for a cool down.

Frankie was prompt to come inside and polite enough to just sit in the hall waiting for his shell to absorb that cool 74ºF indoor air.  He got restless about 30 minutes later so I put up a few Frankie barriers so he wouldn't start walking aimlessly, and destructively, through the house. 
It's very important to re-look at the above photo of Frankie relaxing in the living room because five minutes after this photo was taken all hell broke loose.

Frankie first set upon the rug to the top right and proceeded to eat the white fray which I immediately pulled out if his mouth.  While I took the rug and moved it off the floor Frankie decided to test the barrier that was keeping him from going into our bedroom.

The bench looks like an inadequate barrier for Frankie but indeed the barrier held has he plowed into it and jammed into the door frame.  I am hear to say that that barrier was going no where and Frankie was not getting through.

From zero to 100% impossibility scale, zero being easy to overcome and 100 to being impossible, that bench was 100% impossible to push aside.  When faced with an immovable object in the 100% impossible scale Frankie will simply break the object.

I didn't really like that bench anyway. 

The "missing" in this photo was what Frankie did while I tried to un-assemble him from the wreckage of the bench which was to poop on the rug.  What the heck, right?  He pooped and then backed up over the poop so it would really rub into the carpet.  Right?

Frankie, being cooled down to turn completely mischievous, was promptly turned outside where he was cool enough to graze in the hot sun for 30 minutes before his shell temperature reached 85º and so then headed into the shade before he reached the current outdoor ambient temperature of 92ºF which is uncomfortable for any sulcata and for Frankie.

Which goes back to the title of this Frankie Tail and why I drove to Costco and I am now the owner of my very own steam carpet cleaner, my first ever, because the poop of a ten pound sulcata or even the fifty pound sulcata is nothing like the poop of a one hundred five pound sulcata.

June 10, 2015

Frankie's Magic Poop

Frankie has brought together three of my favorite topics:  Frankie (of course), poop and mushrooms.  Patience please if you haven't read all 470 Frankie Tails and don't know that poop is a favorite subject.  Most pet owners are not fond of their pet's poops.  If you own a sulcata tortoise, poop is not an avoided topic.

Compared to any other pet with smelly gut-wretching poop, the poop of a suclata is nice.  It smells much less repulsive, it can be flung great distances (day old sulcata poop), makes the best compost, and as I have found, has other useful purposes. 

As of yesterday, Frankie poop is big.
Yep, biggest poop yet, and there were four of them.  Not dried yet enough to fling.  Think I will wait until this one is really dry before I see how far this one will fly but I bet it makes a "thud" when it hits ground.  This and the other three were scooped with the Purple Pooper Scooper.

A bunch of last week poops were set in a place where rain is washing out all of Frankie's grass.  Again, Frankie poop is useful:  while decaying and providing lots of good compost, poop is holding back rain water.  Ha!  Useful Frankie sulcata poop.

Bringing me back to the third topic of mushrooms.  Yes, I am fascinated by mushrooms and have been for years.  Okay, I'll confess, when I was young I dated a guy who took me to a Grateful Dead concert and talked me into eating a magic mushrooms and I came to an understanding why people like Grateful Dead music and I danced in the aisles but so did all the other mushroom dropping concert goers and that is my only experience with magical mushrooms (and the Grateful Dead).

That is not why I think mushrooms are cool.  They are cool because they seem to appear from no where, they come in all kinds of strange forms and shapes, and because they are cool.  While on my wanderings in the wooded area looking for turtles I find lots of interesting mushrooms. I take pictures of mushrooms when there are no turtles to be found.

Mushrooms are now even cooler because they now make appearances on Frankie poop.  Yep, Frankie poop occasionally produces mushrooms.

The first time mushrooms appeared it was just a freak thing, "Cooool!"  The second time was like "Wow, man!"  Now its like, "Ooooo, far out! They're back."

I already checked.  None of them are psychedelic.  Magic mushrooms don't show up on turtle poop.

(These are not the shroons you are looking for.)

Pile of poop and white mushrooms.

Bit of compost poop and some brown mushrooms.
Once, on a very hot and humid day, inside the compost bin, the Frankie poop inside was covered with white mushrooms.  Just blew my mind.  Should have taken a picture but I was so freaked out by all the mushrooms.

I Promise.  They are not the Psilocybe magical mushrooms.  They are Frankie's Magical Mushrooms!