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



September 29, 2007

Frankie: This is just right

Soooo dry outside that I've brought the box turtles inside. Poor dears, when they try to dig to bury themselves for the night, they are digging in hard tack clay. Just not very comfortable. Inside they have one of those Rubbermaid under-the-bed sweater boxes. Got rollers on it, no top. It’s long for lots of moving around and just tall enough to keep them inside. I cover one end so they have a "hide". They have a short glass bowl they can get in and out at will.

Frankie doesn't mind the dry. In fact, it’s probably just his kind of weather. Dry not wet, hot during the day, cool at night, stuff to graze upon. Probably more like his natural environment, he just doesn't have to rough it. When Frankie wants water, he goes to his pool. When he wants shelter, he goes into his plastic shed with heater. When he wants to walk, he has lots of yard to walk. When he wants to cool off he has plenty of shade. He simply has it made: up at 8:30 a.m. and back in bed at 4:30 p.m. What a schedule - I would love to sleep that much!

Frankie at 4:30 p.m. Looking out his door just before going in for the night.

September 25, 2007

Water Falls

Being fall, temperatures are much more tolerable but we are in a position of still needing rain. Frankie's lawn crunches when I walk though. Frankie doesn't seem to mind: he eats the grass soaking wet, normal, and crispy dry. I think Frankie would eat grass served purple. Seems to be a sulcata's primary job - eat grass.

I've moved Frankie's pool up near all the trees. Figured that I the trees can get a bit of water just from the pool being there. Frankie is more than obliged to help. Yesterday, he was in the pool with the small bit of water (about six cups) left from the weekend so I turned on the hose and the pool started to fill. He started his splashing (love to watch this). I hosed him a bit (he loves this as long as I don't get it in his eyes). When the pool was pretty full I walked away to turn off the water. When I turned around after turning the water off, Frankie was crawling over the pool's edge and all the water was draining out. Now I know why the pool never has water in it - I thought there was a leak! But at least Frankie is helping to water the trees.

September 23, 2007

Fall Frolics

No matter the occasional hot day here and there, it is fall. Certainly the turtles would say this is their favorite time of year. The boxies can come out in the morning and wander around, dig into the softer soil, gaze from their half buried burrows during the middle of the day -- basically enjoying themselves. Frankie gets to walk like the walkin' fool he is and needs only to rest/cool occasionally, nights under a nice heat lamp, and normal sleeping hours (9:00 am - 5:00 pm).

For me, it means more time with turtles. I don't have to hide from the extremely hot sun. That is so nice for me.

I actually mowed Frankie's yard. It looks quite nice. Compared to four years ago when the yard (if you could call it that) was nothing but mud, the presence of lots of green is lovely. I have to pull golden rod, a rather obnoxious weed that although a very beautiful yellow flower causes no end of allergy problems. Frankie doesn't even eat it.

Greg took the barrier down from a section of the chain link fence so he could weed whack. That means that Frankie has returned to pushing against the links to get through. Now I need to get out and put the barrier back up before Franks hurts himself.

September 16, 2007

Behavior observations

Fall temperatures are quickly overtaking the former hot summer days which means behavior changes in tortoise and turtles. The sun is nice and warm. Frankie and the box turtles are able to get out and roam around. At night, the temperatures are dropping into the sixties.

Turtles Mama Turtle and Brown Eyes have made tremendous efforts to dig under ground. Big accomplishment considering this Alabama soil is the toughest I've seen. When dry, the soil is nearly impenetrable. When wet, its clay with rocks throughout. Mama Turtle and Brown Eyes have both managed to dig far enough to cover their carapace. That is not too deep but I think it is a good start. I think this is a sign that they will want to hibernate.

A discovery of two box turtle eggs was made when I checked on the turtles yesterday. Who ever laid them didn't take time to really cover them making me think it was Brown Eyes. Mama turtle is strong instincts and does very well with her eggs. Brown Eyes is not so careful: she has laid them in the open before.

The previous box turtle eggs laid just a few months did not make it. Two died early in development. One never started to develop. One made it all the way to making slits into its eggs but failed to complete the job and get out of the egg. I regret this occurred when I was out of town or I may have been around to see the problem and help it out. Overall, I am not very good at incubating turtle eggs.

Frankie has a night ceramic heater in his enclosure that comes on when temperatures get under 70 degrees. I've checked on him the last two nights and so far our heat set-up is working for him. Still, I don't think its a good enough solution for winter temperatures. When he is cold, legs and head are pulled into shell as far as he can. When he is warm, the legs spread out.

September 11, 2007

Looking Sandy

Frankie continues to grow at a remarkable pace. I noticed that all the chocolate areas on his shell have really been outgrown by newer sandy growth. Indeed, I think it looks quite handsome.

Looking forward to taking Frankie to class even though we have not yet been confirmed. This means he will have to get a bath. He is a little more stinky nowadays than when he was a little tyke. When he was small it didn't seem so cruel to turn him over to get his underside. Now, at 45 pounds, he really acts as if he cannot stand being on his back. Maybe I can design a lift system. I wish!

Mama turtle is underweight. Can't remember ever picking her up and having he seem to light. It may be time to take them all in for fecal checks.

It won't be long until Frankie pushes his way into the box turtle pen. Have to make a new Frankie-proof fence. Still have to make a new Frankie winter house. He is way to big to be indoors during cold weather.

September 7, 2007

Fast Friends

Is seems that Frankie and are on the best of terms again. When I open the back door and go down the stairs, he is alert and looking at me hoping for some carrots. If I call at him or yell "carrots" while he is out in the yard, he will look at me to see what is going on. We are friends again. No hard feelings about being left behind.

Probably helps that he got a T-shirt from Cozumel:

Box turtles are happy being back outside even though since we got back there has been no rain (rained all week while we where gone). The soil is soft enough for Mama Turtle and Brown Eyes to get holes dug.

Bob the turtle, the one tortured in California, the accused perpetrator has pleaded "no contest". At this man's age, and no record it was the best he could have done. My wish is that he and his family will be able to overcome their extreme anger toward the court system and toward the Sullivans and learn from what has happened. Since there was others involved in the torture, Tony could only be more angry that he alone faces the consequences. Plus most the world is looking at Tony as a monster. The Sullivans are being harassed but Tony and his family is also the target of violence. Can no one see the big picture here? Everyone, and I mean both sides and their supporters, must lay down their arms and allow what has happen to be, to let the courts do what they have been set up to do, to let Tony learn from what has happened, to let the Sullivans heal their wounded family. The dominoes have fallen and no one, not one person, has shown any sort of humanity to all. The Bob supporters need to turn to Bob and his family. People's attention is not helpful anywhere else.

September 2, 2007

Bonding with Frankie

I am back after a eight day vacation. I hired a young lady to live at the house and care for all the geckos, turtles, reptiles, and cats. She does a good job but this was the first time she lived at the house while we were gone. I felt that there was enough to do at the house and the animals needed a lot of attention that her presence was best.

She found Frankie outside one night in the rain and managed to get him inside her house. Good girl! She did neglect to give Frankie his daily carrot. Frankie seems smart enough to know he was neglected in this important detail. He seemed happy enough to see me but when I went to the backyard in the morning he turned his head away as if to say, "Glad you are back but hey, I was not treated up to par and its your fault!" I had to make up to Frankie with extra carrots, some tomatoes and one pear. He seems to require that I spend quality time to "bond" again with him before he is his old self. Maybe a walk around the block.

The box turtles, after nearly a month inside due to drought and high temperatures got to go outside today. It rained gently for them so they are happy. Probably looking forward to some worms, too. They got a banana, pear and peach for breakfast.