Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: April 2007



April 30, 2007

Poop Watch

On Saturday, I took Frankie to the Creek Bank Festival. We went first to the wrong place but decided to walk around the park for a while. Frankie came upon a small plastic disk the size of a nickel and the color of a carrot. He ate it before I could stop him. It was suggested by other sulcata owners that I feed him cactus and high fiber foods to get the poop going. With luck, it will pass without incident.

I checked poop on Sunday and found nothing. I did learn that it is important that one wear gloves or handle the poop with something other than bare hands because fresh poop smell lingers even after several hand washings.

I checked again this morning (using a plastic utensil) and found nothing.

So far is behavior is very normal. He is not lethargic which would be a symptom of problems. I am encouraging him to soak in water and eat more grass.

April 25, 2007

Battling Both Ends

Mattie is on her second dose of medication as prescribed for the intestinal infection. I noticed that her vent was slightly swollen (10% compared to the previous photo) so the vet was correct that she would need a second course of medication. She hates the medication that I have to administer into her mouth and this morning was particularly difficult with me ending up hurting her mouth enough to make it bleed. I don't look forward to tonight's dose. For a little tortoise, she is very powerful. She is eating and that is a good sign.

Mama turtle laid five eggs last night but I was only able to recover two. It wasn't hard to find the nest because the ants had already begun their assault. I cleaned up the area so they wouldn't stick around. I soaked Mama Turtle and gave her as many superworms as she would eat (supplemented, of course).

I joined a sulcata message board a while ago hoping that it would be a fun place to chat about sulcata and exchange ideas. It still surprises me that people spend hundred of dollars every month feeding their sulcata. Frankie's food budget still remains less than $10 per month.

This afternoon Frankie ate a six inch cuttle bone in five minutes. Must find source for bulk cuttle bone.

April 23, 2007

Back in the Green

Everything is going so well with all the turtles. If it would only rain for the box turtles, it would be perfect. All four box turtles and my sulcata spent their first night outside since the unexpected cold snap. Last night, Frankie waited by his door expecting me to walk him inside. I pushed him over on his heat pad instead and bid him 'goodnight'. Today, all turtles and tortoises are enjoying great weather as they navigate the green of their enclosures.

Mattie, the spider tortoise, has made a full recovery. She has another five days of treatments but it will be well worth the bother to keep her healthy. She turned down strawberries this morning but I am not worried as she is a picky eater.

I talked to Brenda who is Bama's new mom and she just loves him. She said hi is a "real card." I should be seeing pictures from her soon. I do miss the little squirt.

April 17, 2007

Road to Recovery

Mattie is doing very well. Her swelling is completely gone. No nose bubbles. This morning I put her out in the turtle enclosure and she ate clover flowers. All very good signs. Too bad she has to continue treatments.

On another note, Bama has been adopted out. Much as I love him, I just could not have more baby turtles and he was just not going to stop mating -- he loves the girls too much. He is going to live with some other turtles who also have recovery issues and will be hand cared for. This is all good for him.

Frankie is outside walking all over the yard and eating to his delight. Still, temperatures at night require that he and all the turtles come in each evening.

April 16, 2007

Turtle Medical Emergency

On Friday, I was taking Mattie for her soaking and I noticed a piece of poop that was attached to her tail. When I turned her over I was horrified to see that her vent swollen and partially prolapsed. I started first-aid by soaking her for 30 minutes and sprinkling some sugar on the vent, but when that made no difference, I had to call Greg to come home and take us to our veterinarian.

By the time we got to the veterinarian, Mattie was also blowing bubbles from her nose. She was in very sad shape. Our vet, Dr. Atlas, was due to be out of surgery soon, but his co-worker, Dr. Campbell was stopping by when we arrived so he attended Mattie. Both doctors are exotic veterinarians but Dr. Atlas has more turtle experience, so from the surgical room consulted with Dr. Campbell.

After a painful probe, a fecal check and thorough examination the veterinarians agreed that she had a prolapsed probably due to some time of parasite. I was leaning more toward dehydration. The treatment was a course of Metronidazole (by mouth) and Claforan (by injection). No matter the treatment, both invasive treatments by themselves could stress this delicate tiny turtle to death.

We brought her home and began treatments. She was given twice daily soakings in lukewarm water. Her enclosure was re-calibrated for temperature and humidity. She was not eating and a veterinarian-provided medical diet was forced down Sunday. The first two days were not promising because she was was stressing so much from the treatments.

Monday proved to be a turnaround day. During her morning soak, I could see her drinking water. The sun came out so Mattie got to sit in sunlight for good UV rays. I fixed her a meal of spring greens, strawberries and corn. She ignored the meal until late in the afternoon after a sun basking and she began to pick out a few bits of corn and strawberries. Drinking water and eating some food are good signs. Her tail swelling has reduced significantly. Her treatments have to continue even though she seems to be so much better this afternoon.
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April 11, 2007

Reverse Directions - Back Inside Again

A sudden change in weather, a drop in nighttime temperatures now predicted below 50, has prompted me to go outside and get all the turtles, again. Good thing, as all turtles were cold. Frankie was especially cold as his night heater did not come on. I picked him up and brought him as soon as I found out. He was too cold to walk. Luckily, the gecko room is very warm and he already had a heating pad set up. He was looking much better within 15 minutes.

All day today we are expecting rains and thundershowers. We need the rain, but I sure wish we could count on stable weather. Besides weather wrecking havoc with the turtles, I have had to delay shipping several gecko orders. I also put all my winter clothes up and had to pull a few turtle neck shirts out to get through the last few days and maybe a few days to come.

April 10, 2007

Outdoors Again, Happily

After four days inside, Frankie and all the other turtles have headed outside. They were very thankful. Frankie seemed to suffer most as he had just gotten used to being outdoors again and was thoroughly enjoying himself when he found himself cooped up inside again. He was a major pain when I was feeding the geckos yesterday as he was under foot the whole time, and walked endlessly around the gecko room. I finally opened the door into the garage and he walked endless there too.

The box turtles were in the process of looking for egg laying sites when I had to bring them in. That made them even more restless. I am sure they are outside looking for egg sites all over again. Hopefully, they will get that business taken care of.

I have made the decision to adopt Bama out. I really have and had no intention of breeding these female box turtles and now that Bama has made such a remarkable recovery from being run over by a car, he has proven that he can reproduce. I have had to adopt out hatchlings and worry about surviving hatchlings that are outside that I missed. Of course, I found one (meaning there are more) and a great turtle lover, Brenda adopted that one. Brenda will be the one adopting Bama. I can be assured that he will be going to a great home.

April 5, 2007

Marching Orders

A cold front has suddenly entered Alabama and for the next five nights all the turtles have to come in at night because night temperatures will get as low as 24 degrees! Yikes. Greg is tished because I had just gotten the wet room cleaned (where Frankie slept at night during the winter). Greg complained all winter about the presence of Frankie poop on the floor (and the smell).

I got Frankie and the rest of the turtles inside last night. Frankie did well, remembering the route, to march directly from the backyard and into the house. Frankie was not quite ready to go directly to bed, either that or he just wanted to check out the gecko room after his time outside. He pushed the box turtle enclosure around a bit.

After lights went out, I went downstairs to check on everyone. Frankie left me a big present -- he peed on the floor -- that is about a small bucket of water worth. Fun stuff. This morning, he left me another present as he does every day. He is so sweet.

April 1, 2007

House of Poop

Frankie is really eating like a sulcata should, and the proof is in his outdoor enclosure! I went outside last night to check on him and when I opened the lid it was like stepping into the elephant area of a zoo. There was poop everywhere. His winter time constitutions were reasonable and I could handle cleaning up after him but it is obvious by the amount of poop currently on the floor that Frankie is making up for his "lean" winter diet.

I have observed him on continually grazing since the weather has remained steadily above the 70 during the day. No doubt that the poop factory is going. I just wish he would do his duty OUTSIDE his night enclosure. But he doesn't, and I have discussed this before in earlier blogs.

On another note, the baby turtle has been adopted and today a lady named Brenda is picking Dudley up. Dudley has begun eating like a pig. I have never seen him personally eat, although I have tried. He prefers to eat alone and will wait until I leave.

It finally rained last night and all the box turtles are wondering around their outdoor enclosure looking for bugs and slugs.