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



May 28, 2007

Mattie Milestones

I am happier with Mattie as she has shown some spirit the last couple of days. I went and bought liquid calcium and vitamins (lots of vit. A) to put into her water as she is not very accepting of powder vitamins. So, yesterday and today she got to soak with vitamins/calcium. She ate lots of baby greens and a part of an over-ripe pear. She then had a good walk around her enclosure and climbed into the baby box turtle's water dish (which is too small for Mattie). I took the hint and went looking for a dish that I could leave in her enclosure. I found an oblong dish that was fairly shallow and put that in her enclosure. She was sitting happily in it when I left.

Greg has grand plans to create a new enclosure for Mattie. Lots of plants, deep soil, great lights, etc. It will probably take the month of June as he is very busy (he is working on fixing my vacuum cleaner which is a priority). Mattie will be very happy once it is done.

I tried all weekend to get Frankie's Growth Chart on my blog only to find out that tables are nearly impossible to add to BB Code. Still working on some sort of solution.

May 23, 2007

Happy World Turtle Day

Box turtles got a pear (not that everyone ate)
Frankie got 1/2 a pear.
Mattie got rose petals.

May 22, 2007

Mow and Go

Mattie still gives me worries - even when she does healthy things. This morning she seemed hard to wake up. I did wake her, put her under her UV light, gave her a small bit of tomato and check back an hour later. She had peed, very nice amount, etc, but no eaten tomato. I took her upstairs to soak, which she did for an hour. She seemed very happy when I removed her. Took her outside and put her into a nice shady spot that she seems to favor. I gave her a clover flower, which for several weeks she has refused to eat, but this time she happily munched down on it. Picky little rascal. Hopefully she will take a stroll around the pen and get some exercise.

Yesterday, Frankie helped me mow the side yard. From outside his gate to the front drive, the area is covered with clover. Frankie sat at a good spot and munched away. When he finished one spot he would move forward a few inches and start over. When he got to the end, it looked as if someone had taken a low sitting lawn mower and mowed a straight line about seven inches wide from the gate to the drive way. Every little bit helps.

Found some wild growing lantana. Going to look it up to see if it is poisonous to turtles. May have to transplant it to the front yard if it is.

May 20, 2007

Do Day Day

Frankie walked for a second year in the Do Dah Day parade (Birmingham, AL), a pet parade and festival benefiting area animal support groups. He was first to start the parade, and just like last year, last to finish the parade. Of course, everyone else was quicker including dogs, people and vehicles. Nevertheless, he did very well and seemed to enjoy it very much. He is mentioned in the Birmingham News:

His photo is here too (6th photo):

We handed out information that included warnings that sulcata were not for everyone. Links were included in the handouts for people considering a sulcata for a pet, the Sulcata Reality Test:

A representative from the area Humane Society commented on how responsible we were to provide this information. She invited us to speak about the facts and problems of turtles/tortoises as pets to a community group.

May 10, 2007

Plans, Problems & Duties

Caught Frankie (sulcata) trying to climb the stairs to our porch -- nine steps. He couldn't even make it to the first stairs except his two front feet but I cannot but think that this is a sign of trouble. If he got up on the first step the danger would be falling backward and flipping on his back. I am home all day except few errands but still the risk of him suffocating or heat stroke is real if I don't see him. At the top of the stairs I have a child safety gate. I may need to get another one for the bottom step.

I put up a barrier on the chain fence today to keep Frankie from pacing. It helps lots. A permanent fix is not yet in the making. His next shelter is first. Which means buying some Insulated Concrete forms.

Mattie (Madagascar spider tortoise) is really doing well. Still very picky about food. I worried all week since she would not eat food presented. Finally I put in a whole ripe pear and a mix of corn and broccoli. She ate well. Today she is outside for sunshine. I watered her area so it would be humid for her.

Boxies are doing fine. I think their biggest complaint is lack of food in their enclosure. I have to feed them.

May 7, 2007

Attracting the Wrong Sort

I have a small dilemma with the box turtles in attracting suitable bugs into their pen so that the turtles will have something to eat. The problem is ants. I have the ants under a degree of control. The very dangerous fire ants are no longer in the area but they respond very quickly when food is around. When I do feed the box turtles, I do so on plastic tops so that the tops can be cleaned so not to leave anything for ants. Attracting slugs, pill box bugs and worms involve some type of bait. They are slower to respond to food than ants. I will continue to think about this.

Frankie is, after nine days following the ingestion of a piece of plastic, doing very well. I think the danger has passes even if I did not find the plastic. It is probably somewhere in the yard. It was suggested by one person that possibly the plastic was digested but that is very doubtful.

Mattie, our spider tortoise, is being picky about her food, or she is just not wanting to eat. I haven't a clue which. I have offered her chopped veggies, clover flowers, wild strawberries and she wanted nada. Corn is not a real appropriate food but I may need to offer her corn just to be sure she has an appetite.

Greg was out of town last night and I was wishing that turtles were as good as watch dogs. They are not. The cats decided that playing around the house and making noises was fun. It was not.

May 3, 2007

Water Challenges

After a five day poop watch, no piece of plastic was found. It is possible that I missed a poop somewhere in the yard. Frankie behaves normal. I guess I will just continue to watch him.

I've decided that I will put a small garden in the box turtle pen. Since I will need to water the garden daily, the box turtles will have the benefit of the moisture. My box turtles don't seem to be very interested in vegetables so I doubt they will invade growing stock. This garden is not too ambitious. I am considering yellow squash, zucchini, egg plant and peas. Not lots. The plants will also provide more shade for the turtles. I will do tomatoes but due to the toxic leaves I will do those in the front yard. Can't grow anything in Frankie's area ‘cause he will just eat it.

The low rainfall continues to challenge backyard grass growth and turtle comfort. Frankie's grass is dulling. He still has plenty to graze on. The box turtles really need the moisture. When ever it does rain, I collect rainwater and put it into plastic gallon containers (I save containers all winter) and store them. I use the water to water plants. Rainwater that collects in Frankie's pool is only good for the one day because he pees in it. The water gets dumped on the ground so there is no waste.