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Frankie

Frankie

April 26, 2018

Burglery

I am not paranoid.  Really, I am not.  I'm not all that interesting.  I don't attract attention.  I am quite ordinary.  No one is after me.

My secret is this:  the smallest person in the room wins.  Survival tactics from growing up in a family of five kids.  Who get's called to do the dishes?  First person mom spots.  Who gets scolded?  The loudest most obnoxious kid.  When mom reaches blindly into the car back seat and starts swatting, who gets hit?  The center kid.

My mastery of the subtle is sublime.  When Frankie is not with me, I go completely unnoticed.  When Frankie IS with me everyone is looking at the 110 pound tortoise.

Home security is about the same.  Don't be noticeable.  Don't put empty flat screen TV boxes by the curb.  Don't place your best silver on the front window shelf. Don't keep Frankie inside a chain link fence.

The front door is locked.  All gates closed and locked.  During the day the backdoor is unlocked so I can run in and out to see Frankie.

I spent the morning safe and relaxed on my computer in the front of the house editing some new Frankie pictures.  Really concentrating on cleaning them up, cropping, saving, etc.  Occasionally I hear rapidly running paws across the carpet....Newt, our cat, running wild, getting her exercise.  She knocked over some boxes earlier but no real damage.

After spending too much time working on the photos I think soon I need to go check on Frankie.  It's warm so he is outside basking and grazing.  He may want hay because Spring grass is slow growing.  He'll want his daily carrot.

I hear boxes in the hall get bumped.  Dumb cat.  It's cat nap time so what is she doing still running around?  Silence.  Okay, back to the pictures.

I hear the sound of paper being stepped on.  That's odd.  Doesn't sound like a cat walking on paper.

Finish the photo edit.  Save current file.  Turn around in my chair.

Have you ever tried screaming, your mouth wide open but what comes out is more like a gasping coughing.  Air that is supposed to go out is still getting sucked deep into your lungs.  What comes out sounds more like "WA..WA....aaaaaaahhhhhh.  Yeah, that scream that pretty much ends in a complete helpless choking fit.

I start waving my hands madly not because I am scared but that poor Frankie, in the house, in the dining room, five feet in front of me, acts like he is under attack. 

He frantically exhales making this WHHHHSSSSSSSSS noise, pulling back into his shell and wobbling like a spinning toy top. 

Frankie, having discovered the back door unsecured and not completely closed, has made his way through the living room, down the hall and all the way into the dining room. 

I am caught completely unawares by the Frankie burglar looking for carrots.

It took Frankie some time to trust me again.  Two carrots to be exact.

April 25, 2018

A Chance of Frankie

Tuesday the Hubby tells me that the chance of rain on Saturday is 100% and the temperature predictions are cool.

Awe.  We've had plans since November last to take Frankie to the April Mobile Autism Funky Fun Run.  Ten years of Frankie's attendance harkens spring much like the spring rain brings spring flowers.  But weather...well weather has final say if Frankie gets to go or stay at home.

We took Frankie to an event once when it was overcast and cool.  He spent the entire time trying to tunnel under nearby cars and bushes.  He was miserable.  WE were miserable.

Another time we took Frankie to an outdoor evening event. Nope, sorry, Frankie's bedtime is the minute that sun starts casting large shadows...oh, around 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm fall through winter.  No bushes around so he buried his head into a corner.  Call him no-participation.

Summer he still turns in well before 8:00 pm.  He's just not a night owl, early morning bird, or evening reveler.  He needs his beauty sleep.

Wednesday I ask Greg to check again as the weather does what it wants....just in case the notoriously fallible weather forecasters get it wrong.

Not only is rain predicted, now they say it could be heavy rains all day.

Awe.

Still I keep checking.  Thursday...same.  Friday...now it's chance of severe weather.  No chance of sun. No chance Frankie will get to the event.

I send an e-mail to Angel at the Mobile Autism office that Frankie probably won't be there due to the weather.

Notice I said "probably".  Ever hopeful.

Friday night I go out to Frankie's greenhouse, close up all the vents, wrap Frankie in hay, and close his door.  Ready for a storm.

"Night, Monster."  (Yep, still call him Monster.)

Heavy winds and rain don't wake me.  I just wake up at the six o'clock hour (no alarm needed as I just wake up).  Head to the computer to check, one more time, just in case, for weather predictions for the day.

What?  Really?  Chance of rain plummets to 5% for the morning with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 70's.

What sorcery is this?

Run....at little old lady speed....to wake Greg.  Convenience him I am telling the truth.  Offer to make French Toast if he wakes up.

Can't say there was any type of divine intervention.  Our weather forecast has been horribly unreliable this spring.

The chance of Frankie attending this year's Funky Fun Run: 100%.

The unpredictable weather caused some vendors to cancel and quite a few people got word that the event was off....but many showed up.

Frankie was there.  The abundance of clover on the grounds meant Frankie feasted.  More grazing than walking but more shell rubs for him.

Frankie loved it.
Me grazing at Mobile Funky Fun Run for Autism. Mom surrenders that she will never pick me up ever, ever again. Ever. Get help, ma. I'm not getting back in the car by myself.

March 15, 2018

Noise, Bucket, Monster

I've been working on this Frankie Tortoise Tail for a while but just couldn't get it "framed" right.  Just didn't seem to have a start or a finish so it's been left undone. Surrendering to pressure to post "anything" about what Frankie is up to I thus present this:

Over last year's holidays I shared a Frankie Tail over dinner with some friends. One friend laughed so hard I thought she was going to fall off her chair.  Another stared in confused-disbelief.  Guessing the "Tail" is tell-able here it goes told just the way I told it over a dinner party.

Frankie got his first noise complaint.  Really.  I brag that neighbors can't complain about noise because sulcata tortoises don't bark. It's a perk point for tortoises.

Apparently I am very, very wrong.

During one of the last year's warm Fall weekends, I headed out to check the mailbox. My next-door neighbor spotted me and waved to have a word.

My neighbor, an avid lawn and garden caretaker, asked me if everything was okay as he grew concerned about the loud "moaning" and "groaning" noises coming from our backyard.....all morning.  

Immediately I face the dilemma whether to explain in scienfic or slang terms exactly what my sulcata tortoise is doing to his favorite orange bucket.

I choose "humping".

My dear 14 year old, sexually mature, 108 pound sulcata tortoise, Frankie, is outside in his yard "loving" his orange bucket.....for four hours.  Four.  Hours.

This four hour love-fest is perfectly normal behavior for Frankie and most all healthy male sulcata.

This happens all the time.  Yes, humping for hours. All the time.

Although my neighbor didn't ask, I promised I'd take Frankie's bucket away on weekends so everyone could work peacefully in their yard.

Back to the Dinner Party.  The disbelieving-astonished guest inquired further as to what a 100+ pound tortoise humped as obviously we don't own a female sulcata tortoise and never will.  I went on to explain about "bucket love."

I explained about Frankie's obsession with buckets. Not just buckets. There's been other objects of Frankie's "Tough Love."  "Tough" in that object's of Frankie's Interests don't survive that long....intact.

In the past there was Umbrella Stand.
Umbrella stand is an all-time favorite but getting too small to really please Frankie.

Julie of Long Island Turtle Rescue's gifted Frankie this turtle umbrella stand. 

Grey bucket's gave five year of service.

Frankie's current  bucket is it's third year of Tough Love.  
Orange Bucket needs the weekend off.  Orange bucket is beginning to split so it needed some recovery time anyway.

Frankie was pretty grumpy about loosing orange bucket.  I thought I would make it up to him by buying a big pumpkin.  I thought he would be amused chasing down the big round pumpkin trying to eat it.

I watched him chase the pumpkin trying to chomp into it before it would roll away again.  He seemed quite engaged in the activity so I went back inside the house.  An hour or so later I went back to see what was left of the pumpkin.

To my horror I found Frankie upside down next to the uneaten pumpkin. Humping trumped eating and obviously Frankie slid off the round pumpkin and onto his back.

This is real horror to any sulcata owner.  Sulcata tortoises cannot right themselves.  Left on their back, they can die of heat stroke if under a hot sun or suffocate if left there.

I ran to Frankie and turned him back over.  He seemed to be stunned and I didn't want to leave until he recovered.  I sat with him for what seemed an eternity before he started walking around again.

This is where it gets strange.  This is also how Frankie got a new name:  Monster.

Once Frankie was feeling more like himself he started stomping around the yard. Not the usually Frankie-walking-around-enjoying-yard but with a madder-than-hell look.

The aftermath was total destruction of the greenhouse's door cover.  Door cover I built (picture below) BEFORE Mad-As-Hell Monster took revenge for bucket loss.
Before

During
It wasn't an accident.  After ramming one side he sorta swayed back and forth to make sure it came all the way down.  I ran inside to get the camera!

I cleaned up the mess once I pulled everything off the top of Frankie...um I mean Monster.  He seemed satisfied that he had made his point.

I don't know what the point was. The door didn't do anything.  He's gonna get a new bucket.  He'll get five days of tough love with weekends off.  He got to eat the pumpkin!

So ends the Dinner Party Frankie Tortoise Tail.  The story of how a sulcata tortoise can bother the neighbors.  The story of Bucket Love.  The story how Frankie got his new name, Monster.