Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: 2008



December 28, 2008

Heavenly Day

Among some mighty cold days we were blessed yesterday with temperatures at 70ºF and bright sunny skies. For a sulcata tortoise with cabin fever it was a relief beyond all belief.

Frankie got outside very early which for him is 9:00 am. He was in heaven walking everywhere in his yard, through the leaves, around all the bushes, and through the trees. He grazed as he walked not once forgetting that walking was the priority.

I spent some time outside with him walking the perimeter of the yard and checking for hazards like pop bottles and trash that sometimes ends up in our yard. The yard was clear of any problems so I could rest easy that Frankie would not be getting into any trouble.

Finally at 3:00 pm I figured it was time to get Frankie inside. He was a little reluctant but there were more shadows in the yard then sun so he didn't resist too much. However once inside the warm gecko room he did all the sulcata business he didn't have time for when he was outside. So I had poop and pee to clean up.

Around 5:00 pm, just before all the gecko lights go out, I went down stairs to water the geckos. Frankie was at the door begging to go outside. There is no sun outside at 5:00 pm but Frankie didn't know this. He butted his head against the door until I just figured he needed to see for himself. He walked outside, discovered it was dark, grazed for about 45 seconds, turn around, came back into the gecko room and went straight for bed.

It is hard to convince a sulcata tortoise that one heavenly day has come to an end.

December 22, 2008

Nose-frosty day

Last night the temperatures went into the teens. This morning it was nose-frosty outside but very sunny. Still I had no plans to let Frankie outside. I prepared him a nice meal of fresh grass, weeds, chopped up hay, shredded carrots and a little romaine. I gave this to Frankie and he ate it all very quickly. I figured this medium sized meal would do him well for the day.

But he was very active. Frankie first started out by walking everywhere in the gecko room. A couple of times he chased me. Then he got a big over active and started to move cricket containers across the floor. He bothered the box turtles, dumped over the water - twice, and of course, poop and peed on the floor. Finally he started butting his head against the door. That would be Frankie insisting to go outdoors.

So I took him outside. With all the sunshine, Frankie warm from the gecko room, was under the mistaken impression it was also warm outside. He took off for the backyard.

About half way across the backyard he discovered it really wasn't all that warm. In fact, for a once very quick tortoise he came to a very slow crawl. Frankie turns around and makes a very slow but direct line for the back door.

I told him it was nose-frosty outside.

December 16, 2008

A Sulcata Christmas Wish List

As sulcata mom and dads we think we have the insight to decide what our dear sulcata want for Christmas. But I am here to tell you that we are mostly wrong. I caught Frankie working on a Christmas list (which he has addressed to the Big Shelled Man in Africa). After looking at his list I was surprised.

First, Frankie wished I would spend some time away from the house so he could have more private time on the Internet. I guess that is okay but if he ever gets the password to my PayPal account I think I am in trouble.

Frankie is hoping for a subscriptions to some sulcata magazines called "Girls on the Half Shell" and "Big Shells". Yikes. I hope they show up in plain brown wrapping because I don't want to explain these to the mailman.

Much to my surprise he really wanted to move to Mexico because "Alabama is too cold in the winter". Go figure.

Sulcata are more like kids than you would believe. I figured on his wish list Frankie would ask for "green grass" or "fresh hay." But no. He wanted the "Christmas Delicious Fruit Design Half Dipped" bouquet from Edible Arrangements. All the no-no's were in this arrangement including pineapple, grapes, cantaloupe, honeydew and strawberries hand dipped in gourmet chocolate . I didn't even know Frankie like chocolate.

I guess he doesn't much care for the great shelter Greg made for him because he wants a "high quality Amish shed". Apparently the Amish do use electricity.

He also wants a sun tanning bed. Probably for his Amish Shed.

Finally, he asked for "one of those Cruise things." Apparently he overheard me talking about basking out on the deck, soaking in the hot tub, endless food buffets and walking all over the ship. I mean what more can a sulcata want on a vacation?

Merry Sulcata Holidays....

December 14, 2008

Freaked Out Frankie

Frankie just does his best to cope with the cold weather. Being a bigger tortoise, he can tolerate some time outside to eat some fresh grass but with the temperatures sitting below 40º F that is just fifteen minutes or less. Sometimes I just open the garage door, he gets a blast of cold air, turns around and goes straight back to bed (being his enclosure). Usually if he does this I will drag him out of this enclosure and sit him under his overhead heater to warm up. He is a turtle with his own mind and if he could drive I swear he would move to Mexico.

And nights gets confusing. The sun goes down early so Frankie goes to be early. But I always go down and do a ten minute check up on everyone late in the evening. Poor Frankie sometimes thinks it is time to get up. So he sticks out his head thinking its time to get up but there is no sun shinning. I swear he will give me a dirty look.

This last week a Phelsuma inexpectata got out so I usually go downstairs more than just once in the evening to see if I can catch this very fast and timid gecko. She is very rare so I am very motivated to catch her. But this continual turning lights on and off just set Frankie freaked out. Luckily he doesn't have any hands or I swear he would start tossing things at me.

Then in the morning I am down stairs looking for the loose gecko before the lights come on. Frankie is just about at the end of his rope. I swear if he could run faster than me he would chase me back up stairs.

In all, Frankie is a pretty good sport about all this but lucky for me he is a tortoise.

December 5, 2008

Avid Reader of the newspaper...I mean eater

Its the time of the year when Frankie ends up spending a lot of time inside. He sleeps inside every night. Sometime around 11:00 am, when it is warm enough he is allowed to make a choice to go outside to bask and eat. Compared to the time he spends outside during the summer, he spends very little time outside during the winter. A lucky day would be three hours. On average, Frankie gets out about 1 hour. Hardly enough to keep "a serious walker" happy. And Frankie is one serious walker.

I have done my best to provide him a walking area in the gecko room. He has a bit of an obstacle course that includes stepping up into a shelf, walking under a couple of chairs and making a full circle in the gecko room. When possible he is allowed to walk in the garage when our Prius is not there. I don't allow him there alone due to too many hazards. The gecko room and garage is not much in the way of walking space but its the best I can do.

The other challenge is Frankie's refusal to eat hay. I have tried year after year to get him to eat it and yes, I have tried every trick in the book. The best we have achieved is for him to eat a mix of 25% hay mixed with weeds, grass, carrots, and hibiscus flowers or any other allowable sulcata food (sorry folks - NO NO NO commercial food. And I don't care what commercial food sellers say. Its like saying that coal is a clean fuel and hydrogenated oils are good for you. Give me a break.

Frankie gets hungry. He can't go outside. So his newspaper that is in his night enclosure starts looking good. How do I know? Well besides catching him munching down on newspaper his poop is different when he eats newspaper. It is hard to miss if you are a sulcata poop observer. How to keep Frankie from eating his newspaper?

The solution is so simple: Hay. If Frankie were just not so stubborn he could be fat eating hay. But no, he would rather be an avid eater of newspaper.

November 24, 2008


While we were away last week we were notified that Frankie won the national You Pet Halloween pet costume contest. He is getting a $100 gift card from PetCo. So, from Halloween pet contests this year he has won $100 from You Pet, $25 from AARP and $5 from PetSmart. Now that is a tortoise earning his keep!

Frankie got to go to Petco on Saturday -- we didn't have his gift card yet but he got to roam the store for an hour and a half so I figured he had plenty of time to look around. Frankie did have his eye on a few items. I think he is planning on getting a customized pet tag to attach to his shell. He also spent some time looking at a extra large Dogloo and the heated dog beds.

On Sunday Frankie went to PetSmart to have a look around with his $30 in prize gift cards. He picked out a bag of Botanical Hay from the Oxbow Company. I put a bag of timothy hay, orchid hay and this botanical hay in front of him and he picked out the botanical hay by going over and nipping on the bag. Since he did the choosing I figure that was a good sign since he usually refuses to eat hay. Frankie also picked out a nice cuttle bone for himself (yep, we are buying him a BIG bulk of cuttle bone this week). Being the generous tortoise he is, he bought the water dragon a big tub to soak in and some tuna for the two cats.

I think Frankie is getting into this shopping thing. I better come up with a really good costume next year if he is going to become a shopaholic.

Oh yea, we weight Frankie and he is 56 pounds.

November 22, 2008

Home Again

Greg and I were out on vacation last week. Frankie and the turtle gang were left in the care of a friend, Brian, who is a very competent reptile keeper. Frankie was more than glad to start the week out with a BIG challenge. Since it was cold, Frankie had to stay inside. The first morning he peed all over the floor and deposited a fair amount of poop on top of that. Then he walked through it for about five hours so when Brian arrived to take care of everyone he had one big mess to clean up. I guess you could say it was trial by "sulcata." Obviously, Brian passed the test.

When we got home, Frankie had been inside all day so he repeated his pee and poop routine so I had the same mess to clean up. Frankie is so thoughtful!

After five days of being stuck inside because the weather was poor Frankie was ready to get out. Since it was too cold to get him out on Saturday I took him for his first winter visit to Petco. He sure did love it. He started with a ten minute bask by their big front glass windows and then proceeded to walk all over the store for an hour and a half. Frankie really needed to do some walking!

When I got Frankie home I put him outside even though it was a bit cool. He really needed to graze. After a couple of hours outside grazing he was ready to get inside and sleep.

Its good to be home and back with Frankie and the gang.

November 12, 2008

Frankie WIshes

Every night Frankie dreams about going outside, walking in the leaves, grazing on green grass, and watching the yard friends playing around. Such pleasant dreams for Frankie and he wakes with such anticipation. What a disappointment to find day after day of cold, cloudy weather that even a big sulcata like him can't tolerate to get outside.

This has been the sad story of Frankie for the last few days. Waking with great anticipation, waiting for me to open the door, peeking out, big cold draft smacking him right in the face and a quick "about-face" turn around back inside the house. At least he gets his daily carrots. And I have three big pumpkins I collected from October that should last until January. Oh, and his friend, Farmer, sent him a acorn squash direct from his own garden that Frankie has nibbled on for the last couple of days. This are favorite foods so what more can a sulcata wish for? So indoors isn't all that bad.

Greg has finished Frankie's outdoor house so today (cold or not) Frankie gets to go outside and try out his new digs. We will put in a Hobovator Temperature Recorder to see what happen overnight when temperatures really drop.

November 6, 2008

Why I like cars

thought I would be ambitious today and take Frankie for a walk to his favorite park.....and not in a car. I really didn't think it would be a big deal. Good exercise for me. Lots of walking for him. I brought his cart and skateboard just in case. I estimated two hours. Yea, right.

Going around our block takes Frankie and I an hour. When I walk by myself it takes 15 minutes. Big difference. I estimated the walk to the park was going to take us just over an hour. So to and from park, 2 hours plus a few more minutes. Back in time for lunch.

Frankie walked most all the way until we got to a street with lots of traffic. On to his cart he went strapped down so he could not jump off (Really I it's a turtle suicide jump because the tortoise/turtle can see its a big fall and no way to they have springy knees to soften the fall). So I was careful and strapped him down. He managed to get out of the straps twice. But we finally made it to the park. He grazed for what I thought was about twenty minutes. Then it was time to go back.

On the trip back I tired. I tried to avoid the busy street and took a back road that probably added an extra 30 minutes. That final walk up our street was plain awful. I was hungry. My legs hurt. Frankie was tired. No way was I going to put him on the cart. So we trudged that final 100 feet.

When I finally got him into the back yard and checked the time FOUR HOURS expired from the time we left the house until we got back.

Will I ever take him to the park again? Sure, in my car!

November 3, 2008

Foam Home

Greg made a bit of progress on Frankie's enclosure over the weekend. He added foam to the inside top of the enclosure. A good friend of Frankie (Farmer) is providing some Prodex leftover from his house (human) house construction. Greg pulled up all the cement pavers that Frankie's enclosure was sitting on so he can re-level the area and better protect it from rain run off.

I keep thinking that Greg is doing all these marvelous upgrades and Frankie is probably going to outgrow the enclosure in a couple of years. I guess we could sell the thing to someone!

It is warm enough today that I thought it may be nice for the box turtles to spend some time outside.

Good news: Frankie's spider friend has made it through the cold snap.
Bad news: I found my yard chipmunk dead over the weekend. I am feeling really hostile toward neighbor cats. Those cats better stay clear of my yard because I am getting very accurate with a rock.

October 31, 2008

Happy 5000

A milestone for Frankie....or should I say for Frankie's and Turtles Blog. 5000 hits total! So cool.

Back to Frankie. No more rocks in poop. Had me worried for a day. I got him cuttle bone in the house and out side in the yard so he can have access when ever he wants. I guess when a boy wants calcium he's gotta have calcium.

I set up a nice area in the gecko room for the box turtles. Not quite a turtle table but more like a turtle shelf. 1/3 of the shelf is covered so they can feel cozy and the rest is open to a feeding area and water. If they need a turn around the gecko room I will let them on the floor for a while when I am there feeding geckos. Plus when they are on the floor they can catch loose crickets. Big Turtle is best at this. She gets in the back corner of the room and picks those crickets one at a time as they hit the corner. Every now and again I will see her scramble after one.

Still cold at night but daytime is Frankie time. In the high 60's to mid 70's is fine for Frankie. Lots of basking. At 4:00 in the afternoon, its back inside for sleep.

Usually on Halloween night we bring Frankie to the front door to show off his costume to the kids when they come to the door. Last year he was so grumpy about it that I am going to skip that. Next year, when he gets a new costume we can do that again.

Oh, yea, Frank-O-Lantern took third prize in the AARP Halloween Pet Costume Contest. I am telling you that pumpkin outfit has not only paid for itself but now has bought cat food, reptile vitamins and a big box of cuttle bone. It is going to be hard to top the pumpkin. My ideas for next year.....can't reveal yet!

October 29, 2008

Frost and Rocks

Two nights of frost make Frankie a very grumpy boy. It's almost like he knows the temperature dropped below 32º F during the night and there is no way he is going outside. I am going to have to design a hoist!

I have a pig blanket inside for Frankie to sit on the morning and I set up his overhead heater. He has somewhere to warm up every morning. Then I will show him its sunny outside (around 10:00 am) and he can go outside and bask. The answer from Frankie is NO WAY!

Yesterday, after warming up under his lamp and sitting on his pig blanket Frankie attempted a poop. This needs to be mentioned because Frankie is a poop master and never has problems in this area of his life. Yesterday there was a problem. Only a poop problem would get me within two feet of his rear end while he is attempting to poop! He managed one small poop and it was loaded with small rocks. No good.

I am thinking this is due to too many weeks without cuttle bone which we just got replenished last week. Three weeks without just was too much and Frankie started eating rocks. From what I understand from other keepers, sulcata do this for (mistakenly) calcium.

Because this causes constipation that can become serious, I got Frankie into a hot (but comfortable) bath. I put him in a plastic garden/shop container with the hot water just inside the garage door. I opened the car garage door fully so he could soak and bask in the sun. Since we were just inside the garage the temperature was a bit warmer. That Frankie soaked for a whole hour. He loved it.

I had enough time to soak the box turtles while Frankie soaked. They got a separate container and the water was warm and not hot. They enjoyed it.

So, I will do this all again. Check poop for rocks. See if everything is clear with Frankie.

October 27, 2008

Ooo, Another Layer

Mr. Greg has made some good progress on insulation of Frankie's outside house. After putting up to one and 1/4 inch of Pink insulation, he has decided on cement backer board for the outer surface. He believes this will minimize any damage from Frankie from scratching the sides. I am thinking that the cement may also be beneficial in holding a bit of heat.

I was worried that the inside walls would be difficult to clean but Greg assures me that the cement backer board is washable. He said it is like washing a driveway. Okay, I guess I will see.

He also bought foam to spray in the cracks. He hasn't done that yet. But there is a few things still to do: reflective insulation on the roof, insulation and backer board on the doors.

October 21, 2008

Warmer is Better

Greg was Frankie's hero this weekend. Greg began the process of adding insulation to Frankie's outside enclosure.

Greg used leftover Owens Corning Pink Board insulation from our gecko room. He is piecing in parts on the inside of the enclosure. In some areas he can even go double pieces deep: Better for Frankie. When all that is done he will put something over the Pink Board although he has not yet made his mind up on that.

Once all the Pink Board is installed he is going to put reflective insulation on the top and some insulation along the lid to keep drafts out.

Here is a picture of the initial install. More pictures to come.

This makes it possible for Frankie to safely sleep outside more months out of the year.

October 18, 2008

A Little Trim

Frankie got a beak trim this morning. It was a major task. I use an electrician's flush micro sheer cutter. They are sharp, very small and can trim a little at a time. Frankie does not like getting trimmed so a little at a time is best I can do.
I let him look and smell the trimmer first. Then I touched his legs and then parts of his head. He resisted but eventually I could touch his beak. If I try to cut portions like on would cut carrots then I would be unsuccessful. I cut very small bits at a time, more like an artist at work. After lots of cuts I make some progress.

Frankie does his best to move away from me and I have to scoot along with him. There is no way to keep him from moving. At one point I am laying on my side, face to face with Frankie. Then I feel something wet on my legs and feet. Frankie has peed all over the floor and all over me. I will definitely need a shower after this! But, after 30 minutes, Frankie has a nicely trimmed beak.

October 15, 2008

Sun Welcome

There have been several days of really nice weather so Frankie is a much happier sulcata. He is spending nights inside and in the morning I take him outside. It still takes nearly 15 minutes to get him from his bed (whatever you want to call it) to his yard. He walks slow, he wants to stop and bask, he wants to stop and eat. Pretty typical for a sulcata.

The boxies are going in at night and out in the day. Mama and Brown Eyes usually get half dug in for the night when I find them in the evening. Big Turtle is usually sitting in the open. She looks bewildered because she cannot provide decent shelter for herself. I am sure she is happy to get inside to a more secure stable environment.

Working on getting Frankie's outdoor shelter fitted with reflective insulation. Do I keep saying this? Greg is supposed to be doing this but he is the outside the house worker in the family and by the time he gets home at night he is very tired.

Although this is not turtle related, a very dear tokay of mine, Betty, is under the weather. She is quite old and having some problems. Always difficult in reptiles to decided when its treatment time or if this is her finish time. I am nursing her making her as comfortable as possible.

October 13, 2008

Fall Challenges

Fall is definitely the season the turtles and tortoises are dealing with. After three weeks of no rain we finally got what was needed for Mama Turtle and Brown Eyes to dig into the dirt. Of course, as always, Big Turtle cannot dig into the dirt and must have shelter or I must bring her inside. When its been nicer out at night I've left her outside.

Frankie is dealing with shorter days so he is going to bed earlier and getting up later. A few nights were spent inside and a few nights outside. This week I will be putting reflective insulation in his enclosure to help keep him out a few more nights with cooler temperatures.

Little Acorn is doing nicely although still very shy. In cleaning her up over the weekend I discovered that she had been bitten numerous times by ants. Perhaps this explains why she was walking in the open in the middle of the day when it was very dry outside, no clouds and very warm. Very contrary behavior to the secretive box turtle. But the bites are all healing and I've made sure none are infected. Poor girl.

I've noticed that fewer people read the blogs (not that there were many anyway). I think its because it is so very hard to navigate in the blogs. I know I have trouble getting to my own blog. Links are crazy and the page looks nuts. Hopefully things can get better but then the blogs are not a big priority compared to other very active features at Turtle Times.

October 3, 2008


Today brought an unexpected surprise. My next door neighbor who my box turtles share a fence, found a hatchling three-toed box turlte on her drive. She was so kind to let me know and for not running over it.

Probably its a a month old. Bad time to come into the world as we have no rain in more than three weeks. The box turtle area is so dry that all the grass is turning brown. It was so dry that I decided to bring the adult box turtles in last week.

Poor thing. If I had seen it I could have improved its condition quicker. But I got it inside and its sharing the turtle enclosure with Pumpkin. It was so very shy that I had a difficult time getting it to soak in water. It just wants to hide. When I left the room and returned thirty minutes later it had come out of one of the hides and was wandering around. I tossed it two meal worms and moved away quickly. She ate them. She had to be thirsty and hungry.

Now for a name. I am thinking something fall, just like Pumpkin's name. Squash would be appropriate but I don't want to jinks her. Acorn, squash, potato, corn, wheat, berry: so far I like Acorn. The name sticks unless someone can come up with another one.

October 2, 2008

Little problem makers

We have a cold front coming through so its time to think about insulting Frankie's current outdoor house. I think for now I am going to put up bubble radiant insulation on the top and front panel. That should do well until late November.

But something needed to be done this morning about the growing cockroach problem in Frankie outdoor house. The large outdoor cockroaches have earnestly moved in with Frankie. When I check him at night there may be six or eight on the floor and a few more crawling up the sides. There is no evidence that they do anything to bother him. They simply like to eat his poop (eeegads!), and enjoy the heat and humidity.

But they do bother me. When I clean out his poop I will uncover several and they scatter around seeking a haven. Of course, I do the eeeeewwww-cockroach-dance (oh you know it!) and try to decide if I should attempt squishing them or clear out.

So the risk of ridding the house of them. Pesticides are very risky. They could hurt Frankie. I have chosen to clean out his house (must have been 60 roaches hiding in crevices) and put down a cockroach bate. For the next couple of nights I will have Frankie sleep inside. After a couple days pass I will soap down his enclosure. Hopefully that will have an impact on those little critters from hell.

September 29, 2008

More Photos

Okay, so I like to take Frankie places. I took him to get his photograph taken at Walgreen's. Walgreen's had a fund raising event for ASPCA. Get a photo for $5. Cheap. So we went.

Okay, so people fuss over Frankie. How unusual is a fifty pound tortoise. Of course people who have not seen one up close are gonna have fun asking 20 questions, dragging their kid across the parking lot to see him, taking pictures of him on their cell phone and leave their employment post just to get a glance. It all happen that way.

Okay, so I already have lots of Frankie pictures and don't need to have any more. I just can't help myself. Probably because I didn't have a child. What can I say. I admit it.

And if you have a large sulcata and take it somewhere around people, these are the twenty questions:
What kinda turtle is that?
Is that a tortoise?
Is this your pet?
How much does he weigh?
How old is he?
How long will he live?
What is his name?
Did you find him in the wild?
Where did you buy him?
How long have you had him?
How big was he when you got him?
What do they eat?
Where do you keep him?
Where can I get one?
Can I touch him?
Can I feed him?
Can I (you) pick him up?
Can he swim?
Can I take his picture?
Are they difficult to take care of?

That is 20 questions! That is why I carry an information sheet about Frankie. Sometimes I can't manage Frankie and answer questions at the same time.

September 22, 2008

Celebrity Turtle. Again.

Oh, well, what can I say. I am a sucker watching Frankie around people. :D

Frankie was at the Leeds Downtown Folk Festival this weekend. Had lots of fun. Even Greg agreed to walk with us which I appreciate since lifting Frankie in and out of the car is difficult.

Someone asked if Frankie would like to have a booth next year so kids could come and pet him. Of course, I could have laugh so hard I nearly fell off my chicken legs (see photo) -- Frankie sit in one spot all day! No way! Not only would he be endlessly walking and attacking the food vendors (bad food, Frankie, stay away), but any child in a orange, yellow, red or blue Croc shoes would be in immediate danger.

September 21, 2008

Revenge is sweet

Frankie exacted his revenge on that bale of fence wire that held him captive when he attempted to dig a tunnel under our AC unit.

Greg and I had to move the bale of fence wire into Frankie's area to mow and we forgot to put it back into a "safe" area. It probably took Frankie a couple of hours to do it but when I checked on him in the afternoon he had the wire completely unwrapped and pulled across the yard. He must have walked across it a dozen times 'cause it took me forever to straighten it out so I could roll it back up. I don't think that wire is gonna mess with Frankie anytime soon again!

September 17, 2008

Wiggly Meal

This morning was dig-up-worms-for-the-box-turtles day. Since we had a good rain two nights ago and a cloudy day yesterday, I figured worms would be nearer the surface to warm up and avoid the real wet soil. I was pretty right.

I yanked out about four really big earth worms. Mama Turtle, Big Turtle and Brown Eyes each got one. The extra one went to Brown Eyes who ended up sharing it (not willingly) with Big Turtle.

I love how the turtles will grab a worm and head off to protect their catch. "You aren't getting mine!" Chomp chomp! A turtle without a worm will pursue another turtle's dinner. To prevent this type of food fight, I try to dig up several worms at a time (like six or so) and let them eat those while I go and dig up a few more.

Worms are no easy meal. Digging them up is one thing cause they all have escape routes back into the soil. Sometime they will simply detach part of themselves. When they are dug up they fling themselves wildly about. They continue this dance as the box turtles try to eat them. Sometimes the worms get away. But for the most part, box turtles expect this wiggly meal and are ready for the battle.

I guess they had six worms of varying sizes each. Nothing to turn a turtle nose up to.

And one more note: Mama turtle spotted one big worm all by herself and very expertly pulled it from the ground. I was impressed at her skill. I am not so graceful. I end up with dirty knees, hands and nails.

September 15, 2008

Why Hansel & Gretel Used Bread Crumbs

Frankie has enjoyed some really nice weather this last week -- sun, clouds and temperatures in the 80's. He walked endlessly and if he needed to cool down there a cloud nearby for shade. It was never too hot so he didn't have to spend all week under the patio. But today must have been an unpleasant change for Frankie. It was all clouds.

I got up early to check on Frankie and found him at his enclosure door looking out to a foggy morning. He probably thought to himself that in a few hours it would cheery up and he could do as he had all weekend. After all, his enclosure was warmed by his heater. But, by the time I headed down to the gecko room at 10:00 am, Frankie was only head out of his enclosure and the day had not gotten better. Pure cloud cover.

When I re-emerged from the gecko room at 1:00 pm, Frankie was sitting smack in the middle of the yard. He apparently was waiting on some sun that would not show up all afternoon. I was filling pretty sorry for him at 3:00 pm and spent some time on the lawn with him rubbing on his shell. But he wasn't going anywhere. By 5:00 I feared he may be "cold" stuck and not moving from the spot without some encouragement. And I was not going to pick him up.

But there are always carrots.

So I took a large carrot and made a carrot trail from Frankie to his house and inside (just to be sure). That large, unmoving, 55 pound lump of no-go was on the move to pick up each and every carrot on the path. Motivation from the unmotivated.

If there is a lesson here it would be this: if Hansel and Gretel had used carrot pieces instead of bread crumbs, they still would be in a stew.

September 13, 2008

Beatin' Around Home

The problems with the blog have intimidated me a bit keeping me from blogging. I lost one blog entry (probably my error but things were strange) so was discouraged. But try, try, try again.

Frankie has been a perfect gentleman. I do think I am not paying enough attention to him since I started rehabbing a fledgling bird. But the bird is almost on its own so I won't have to worry so much about it. Of course, when I am digging in the dirt showing the young bird how to find bugs and worms in the ground, Frankie has to investigate. The bird flies off and I have nothing to do but rub Frankie's back. He is beginning to like that kind of attention.

Pumpkin, the year old box turtle needs a new home. I just have not had much success getting it done. I guess I can think about getting a table at the Dixie Reptile Show. I can bring him and some geckos. Problem is that I really want to be sure Pumpkin goes to the right home. I don't want someone to make an impulse buy and Pumpkin live a life of misery. Which, since he is getting bigger, he needs somewhere bigger to live.

Pumpkin is too small to live outside but quickly outgrowing his rubber tub (long tub with short sides). Again, he needs a new home either with me or someone else.

September 9, 2008

Frankie Excavations

Frankie got himself into a bit of a bind today. You know those Chinese finger traps (Google if you don't)? Well, Frankie got himself into one -- the size of a sulcata.

I went out this afternoon to check on the 'ole Franks only to find him MIA from the yard. :o Not to panic I did a double check just to be sure I hadn't overlooked him or any signs of a kidnapping. No Frankie in his house, under the porch, in the back '40s, by the trash pile, under the tree we took down yesterday. The fence was locked, nothing knocked over, no missing planks. He had to be inside somewhere. So I went for the third look under the porch.

It was then I noticed some dark, dug up soil that wasn't familiar from any of my "worm digs" I've been doing. Then it dawned on me. Pulling back a big black plastic container (used to be Frankie's old house) there was some funny looking stretched wire fencing that was nearly covered with newly dug dirt crammed in it.

Apparently Frankie, having noticed that I had "re-arranged" under the porch to clean it up a bit, had taken advantage of the poorly placed container to attempt a new tunnel. He had dug under the container and under some wound up wire fencing and proceeded to tunnel toward the air conditioning units (remember those from two summers ago?).

The plan was brilliant. The tunnel was nearly unnoticeable. The dirt was pushed up into a coil of wire which was blocked by the plastic container. Very clever....until a 50 pound sulcata attempts to back out of the tunnel and into the wire coil.

Oh, yes, Frankie had backed his butt into the wire coil and was caught like a finger in a Chinese finger trap. Go forward and the coil relaxes. Back up (to freedom) and get caught in the wire. Stuck he was. Probably since very early this morning.

When I managed to pull the wire-hugged Frankie back from the hole (oh, the indignity!), I nearly had to resort to rolling Frankie to loosen him from The Old Bale of Wire. Poor baby! Poor shell - it will never look the same!

Once freed, Frankie, no, he ran from under the porch and didn't stop until, well until he met his first clump of grass. Poor baby. Not a bite of grass all day.

I guess its time to go back to see if he has made a second attempt. I am sure he has already forgotten his crime and punishment.

September 3, 2008

Noisy Yard

Frankie has really been enjoying the last few days. We've had nice temperatures in the mid 80's and mostly cloudy - I would say Frankie really likes this combination. He gets to move around the yard a lot without overheating in the sun and can graze in the open too. No rain but we had plenty last week so the yard is green.

Greg went out and cut the grass so it looks good in Frankie's yard. I don't think he minds the cut grass even if the mower is loud. He can still graze without getting tall grass poking him all the time.

Our roof was damaged in sheer winds a month or so ago and today we finally got someone out here to fix it. Of course the roofers got a big kick out of Frankie. However, I don't think Frankie thought much of the hammering and noise created by the roofers. Frankie went to bed real early around 3:00 which is more like winter hours instead of summer hours.

August 30, 2008

Getting of the carousel

OMG I am so bored. I finally finished the article for Reptile's Magazine. No more pressure writing.

The box turtles are outside finding lots of worms, slugs and bugs because the rain is gone and everything is nice and damp outside. Temperatures are great for them.

Frankie has lots and lots of grass to graze on. Temperatures at night are cool but he gets plenty of warm up in the morning. Then mid-day is is hot as ever and he takes a rest under the porch.

The baby robin is now flying off into the trees to do its thing so I don't have to feed it every hour. Last night it spent its first night in the trees. I was up at 5:30 am calling to see if it survived. Of course it did.

I've been cleaning the gecko room and enclosures as we are due to have a visit from a AZA member. They are acquiring from our stock and a site inspection is part of the routine. Luckily, this is not the time of year when Frankie comes in the house with lots of pee and poo on the floor. All is ship shape for that.

So what is a girl to do? I guess back to regular maintenance on yard and turtle enclosures. No, really, what is a girl to do? Is there a reward for all this. Oh, I guess so. Nothing like 'ole Frankie coming over for a carrot and butt rub. He and I can sit under the porch (him with a carrot and me with a glass of tea) and watch the world go by.

August 26, 2008

The Worse Job

Taking care of turtles has its down aspects. Yes, it is joyous to watch them munch on delightful foods that we've supplied. Who can resist a turtle stretched out basking in the sun. Our heart melt when they come for a head scratch (or butt rub for Frankie). And baby turtles can turn a Grinch to a cooing, loving parent.

But then turtle care isn't all fun and games.

Cutting up vegetables and fruit to small bitty pieces really isn't such a chore. Nor is snipping up grass and hay into smaller munch-able pieces. But some chores get tough. Giving Frankie a bath can be challenging....and smelly. Picking up poop day after day, year after year can get tiresome. Mopping up urine, especially the 10 gallon Frankie deposit, can be entirely yucky. But the worse job of not picking up Frankie poop. I can handle that. Toss those things without thinking about long as there is a hand washing to follow. The worse I ever did...

The worse job of all happen today. After four days of rain that added up to over 8", coming down in big huge downfalls and then endless sprinkles, I had to clean out Frankie's enclosure. When I opening it up I was overcome by the fumes. First, Frankie had a week of poop deposits there. He had also peed (you can tell by the urates). But that was not the worst of it. Apparently the rain got backed up and was seeping into his enclosure. So four days of rain soaked poop, pee, soil and damp hay all goo-ed together.

I had no choice but start picking the poo by hand. Some of it came apart in my fingers. Yuck. Then I took handfuls of damp soiled hay and tossed that out. Finally I was ready to spread some of the dry hay that had been pushed against the backside of the enclosure. Much to my horror a family of cockroaches -- the BIG ones -- had moved in. I think most people who understand the all natural responses of someone nearly getting a handful of cockroaches in their hand. Well, you can dare to imagine my response. Oh yes, it was THAT bad.

No doubt, this was the worse clean up job ever.

August 25, 2008

Rain Okay

After weeks of no rain now we have days and days of rain. I knew this was probably coming that is if "the Joker" (the tropical storm's nickname) continued its track toward Birmingham. Well, we didn't get the storm straight on but instead we got the upper arm of the storm.

In preparation for the high winds and rain, I brought the box turtles inside the gecko room. Frankie I suspected would be okay but I did turn on his heater so he would get some heat since we were expecting lots of clouds and rain.

Good timing because on Saturday night we got nearly 2" of rain in a short time period. That would have cause the box turtles to get roused. But they were indoors nice and warm.

Frankie did just fine in his heated enclosure until today. I guess three days of no grazing drove him outside to eat even in the rain. Regretfully, as the rain got heavier and heavier Frankie got colder and colder. Eventually he looked for shelter under a tree. Not so good an idea. I watched him to see if he would surrender and go back inside his house. He didn't. After a couple of hours I just went outside, put him on a cart, and brought him into the gecko room. I did expect that he would tear up the gecko room but Frankie went straight to his box for a nap and a warm up. I still got the gecko room fixed up to minimize any trouble he could cause if he did get up and start walking around.

Another day of this. I'm not complaining. We needed the rain.

August 21, 2008

Black Gold

Long time, no blog - excuse: working on article about 'not turtles' and can't hardly write anything else. But its almost over!

So this morning I am outside trying to convince Frankie to get up early and take a walk with me around the block. No happening. Frankie likes his morning rest. He just sits there in his enclosure and watches out the door and that is that. Reminds me of people who relax in front of a TV - it is just some people's way of relaxing and the same for Frankie.

So I sat there on the steps next to the enclosure. Thought about the fact it is dry so all the worms are really deep in the earth so I can't find any for the box turtles or the robin. Then I look down at Frankie's front door entrance. Piles of poop, straw all nice and damp and smelly from me dumping his pool water every couple of days. I pushed back the damp straw and poop (yes, bare handed) and there were worms right at the top of the soil!

So I started to dig up a few worms: there are more and more big fat earth worms. Surprised me to see so many. Then it dawns on me how very black the soil is under all that decaying hay and poop - OMG its a gardener's black gold! Oh, yes, that dear Frankie has been creating rich organic compost soil. I have struck gold. You know its gold when the earth worms move in! But then the big question. Which is more valuable: the worm or the soil?

On the other end of the yard, far away from the overly-sensitive nose of my husband is my five year failed attempt at a compost pile. Yes, I put in cut grass and leaves and garbage but after years of try, try, try all it attracts is those big wood cockroaches. I can't compost but Frankie is a master.

I spent two hours digging around Frankie's house and in the area where he spends hours sitting and pooping. I dug up a big bucket of the stuff and a small bucket of worms. Of course, Frankie did get up to see what I was doing. He sat on my pile of black gold and basked for a while. I guess he was claiming his masterpiece.

August 7, 2008

Not Going Anywhere

It has been soo hot that I am hiding inside the house. I am sorta like that. If I go out it will be very early in the morning and late in the evening. Its just that hot and humid in Alabama right now. And so it is with all the turtles. Guess I am in good company.

Frankie has slept outside in the yard twice this last week. I finally bought him inside a couple of days ago so he could cool down and get a good night sleep. He rewarded me by tearing up the gecko room and eating plants that were bad for him. I have to keep a close eye on him for a few days just in case but I think he is okay. It wasn't big enough a plant for him to eat enough bad stuff.

Box turtles are indoors too. I keep thinking of putting them outside for the rain but we just don't get rain we get torrential downpours that panic the turtles. When those fast hard rains come down the box turtles head for higher ground then run into a fence. I just would rather keep them inside. They get lots to eat when they are inside.

Any other excuse for not blogging? Trapped indoors, too hot to move, humidity like walking through water - oh, I have a writing assignment. I find it hard to write other things when I have an assignment. Guilty for spending effort elsewhere. I feel more like Frankie sitting under the porch - I'll move when it gets cooler out there. At least I got this entry done. Back to the assignment....

July 28, 2008

Double H

For days and days its rained and rained to the point our soil is saturated. It also cooled down enough that I decided between the wet and the night cool to turn Frankie's heater on in his enclosure. But last night is was humid and hot. So Frankie slept outside of his enclosure. I didn't worry as much as I usually do because he slept under the porch and next to his enclosure. It seemed like a very secure place so I didn't force him to sleep inside. But it is expected to be hot all week with some rain. Hot and humid - the dreaded double threat of an Alabama summer.

I may (and I really mean may) let Frankie inside a couple of afternoons for some relief. I fully expect that he will tear up the gecko room but maybe letting him escapee the heat and humidity will be worth it. No more heater in his night house.

Since the rains have been heavy I have kept the box turtles inside. They probably can't complain too much since they are fed big fat super worms inside. Outside they have to fend for themselves 50% of the time. Inside I am responsible for 100% of their food except for the occasional loose cricket on the floor. Judging from the number of crickets on the floor I would say the turtles are doing a poor job of keeping up with those loose crickets.

No one has stepped forward for Pumpkin yet. I guess I have to go to plan B: turltehomes.

July 27, 2008

Recovery Set

Looks like Frankie is A-okay and nothing bad has happen from eating the candy. But because sulcata digestion is slow, I need to keep watching him for a week or so. He seems real good. The last couple of days have been really nice since we got some rain and its been partially cloudy all day. He likes that. So he's really been around the yard.

And I am checking the yard a lot! I go out and walk the perimeter every chance I get. I think I have found a new weight loss program!

I am now wondering if the reason Frankie got sick back in February may be related to the candy incident. Perhaps Frankie ate something that was thrown over the fence and it made him sick. If so, I am going to need to be diligent. Or put another fence up farther from the back fence. That would be costly. I thought of putting up a mesh net so if anything was thrown it would be caught in the net. Just thinking.

July 23, 2008

Pumpkin Home

Something I hadn't thought of until recently: Pumpkin, the nearly one year old box turtle juvenile, needs a new home.

I have a policy with my geckos never to sell any gecko less than three months old. This is mostly because many keepers are not really experience in keeping baby reptiles and keeping them alive and healthy is challenging. Reading the many desperate posts about sick and dying baby reptiles is one way of seeing this is true. Really, if a keeper has never owned a reptile before the last thing they need to do is buy a baby. Adults are a better way to start for new keepers. I do sidetrack my thoughts....

Pumpkin is nearly a year old now and very well adjusted. I am surprised how very healthy Pumpkin is and how well formed his carapace is (again, its not easy). Pumpkin was supposed to be adopted out this last spring but the folks did not step forward to adopt Pumpkin.

In the past I have worked with Turtle Homes and had box turtle adopted out rather than sell them. One is more likely to find experienced keepers and therefore Pumpkin is more likely to find experienced new owners. New reptile people usually don't know that you can adopt turtles.

So, this week I begin my search. I think I will first (besides posting here) mention Pumpkin to the Alabama Turtle Group I am a member of. Maybe someone there will want Pumpkin. Then Pumpkin can stay close by. If not then I can try Turtle Homes. And I can try the other turtle lists I am members of. But, I want to start here in Alabama before working outward.

Mission: Find Pumpkin a new home!

July 21, 2008


The news this morning was a double weather alert. The day would get up to 100º F and the air quality would be "orange" (not good for sensitive people). So I got up early this morning to make sure Frankie would be okay today.

By 6:45 pm, temperatures already in the upper 70's, I was putting up a 10 foot square canopy over Frankie's water. This way it would remain cool and not heat up from direct sunlight. During all this construction, Frankie was up out in the yard, which is very early in Frankie standards, supervising all my work. As I finished, Frankie went on a walk around the yard. Everything seemed okay for the day.

I went out around 10:00 am to check on Frankie and to my surprise he had returned into his night shelter but was not looking out the door which he usually does. I noted this because he never goes into that house except at night or during rain (and only sometimes). At 1:00 am I went out again and checked on Frankie. He was still in his shelter and from my point of view looking very poorly. I wondered if he had eaten something bad while walking this morning. He really looked sick.

I made immediate plans to get him inside the house. I did have to drag him out of his shelter as he was reluctant to walk himself. Not a good sign. Then I put him into his water. He was initially reluctant to stay in the water but finally gave in. After a ten minute soak I got him out of the water and started to tempt him toward the gate and ultimately into the house. Luckily Frankie walked by himself. He didn't stop to eat any of the green clover. Another bad sign.

So I get him into the gecko room. He wants to look around. Sounds pretty normal. Before I know it I am quickly having to put up boarders to keep him from pushing things over, attempting to crawl over things and trying to get under things. Hey, this isn't the actions of a sick tort!

For the next hour, Frankie goes on the gecko room rampage. Anytime now I am expecting pee and poop. But the big question of the day is this: Was Frankie really sick or did I get duped into bringing Frankie into the air conditioned gecko room?

July 18, 2008

Direct Path

I think we have mistakenly coined the term "bee line" to mean to go directly to your destination without side tracks. Really, it should be "turtle line". Let me explain.

When I go outside with Frankie's carrot treat and call him he makes a "turtle line" for me. He will walk over anything or push aside any object that gets between him and that carrot. I have seen him plough through cinder blocks, tables, rocks, piles of wood, bushes, other turtles all on the quest to take the shortest path from him to the carrot. It can be quite funny to watch.

Today he made his "turtle line" toward me and the carrot ploughing through his pool of water (dumping all his water) and knocking a table over. It would have taken him a mear six extra seconds to make a slight course adjustment to avoid these obstacles. No way Frankie, he wants that carrot! Its like he hasn't eaten in weeks!

July 16, 2008

Creative Thinking

Frankie is coping well with the hot weather. I keep his area under the porch nice and damp. I've also put lots of overhead cover to help cut back on direct sunlight under the porch. I found a big patio umbrella in some one's trash pile and now it covers Frankie's pool so the water doesn't get hot. When Frankie wants to get in his pool the water is cool and not hot.

I am sure my backyard looks trashy with all this stuff but I am creative in my care of Frankie. If I had loads of money to throw at solutions then I suppose everything would look nice and neat. Ha! To me a solution is a solution.

What hasn't been accomplished is to get Frankie a suitable outdoor shelter that will work for winter. Building a shelter would be an expenses to build and an expense to heat in the winter. For some reason, I just think that Frankie can share the heat that we already pay for in the gecko room. Seems economical to me. Of course that means I got lots of poop and pee to clean up.

It would really be nice to have a "turtle door" that would let Frankie in and out of the basement so he could have the best of both worlds. He could stay inside when its too cold or rainy and go outdoors to do his walking thing.

Thinking, thinking, thinking...

July 9, 2008

Hot Routine

As summer gets hotter the turtle routine moves from day to early morning and late evening. Turtles seem to be on the same schedule.

This morning I was out at seven and Frankie was already sitting outside about to head out for some grazing. He visited his pool, deposited some poop and then did his rounds. All this before 8:00 am. Then under the porch to stay cool. By this time his pool was clean and the area under the porch was sprayed down to help keep him cool.

Box turtles are digging themselves under any damp soil left over from the couple of rain days days. The rain helped a lot in making the box turtles more comfortable.

July 3, 2008

Guard on Duty

Last night Mama Turtle laid three eggs. I had been watching her for about three days. She had been walking around the box turtle pen even during the hot day hours. Since that is not normal I felt that I should keep an eye on her. Then I found a couple of "test" holes. Both were in very dry hard dirt areas that no way could she dig deeper. Finally last night she decided on an moist area where the AC unit drains. Since it was about the softest area in the pen, she dug.

I debated if I should let the eggs alone outside to incubate but in the end I brought them inside. They are in with the previous three that Brown Eyes (I believe) laid just a month or so ago. I have to go back and look at blog entries to check the date.

This morning I went out and fetched Mama Turtle, fed her a nice meal of veggies and lots of meal worms. Tomorrow I will do the same since egg laying can really take away nutrition from females.

The chicken has a new home. She will go to it this weekend. But she did a good deed today. This morning I heard the chicken cluck the loud alarm sound. I ran outside and checked and she had spotted one of the feral cats that show up to try to catch my chipmunks that are in my yard. So far the cats have not bothered the turtles but that risk is possible. So I was grateful that the chicken was watchful.

The chicken and Frankie shared a corn on the cob - 3/4 to Frankie and 1/4 to Madison. Of course, Madison pecked at what was left of Frankie's cob. Two garage disposals cleaning up after each other. Funny.

July 1, 2008

A Whole Other Side

Well, I am seeing a new side of Frankie: a jealous side! OMG he must really love me!

I have a chicken that I am fostering until I can find it a new home. It was someones pet. It has bonded with humans and would rather spend time with a person than scratching out lunch in the yard. Seriously. When I go outside it greets me with a "cluck, cluck, cluck". In the morning, when it sees me for the first time that day, it gets excited and comes to say good morning. Okay, you think I am nuts. This morning, it came all the way up the stairs and waited at the top step for me to come outside.

I've had the chicken since Saturday. I went to a garage sell and it was hanging around. The woman running the garage sell said it had been there since 7:30 when she opened up. A customer stopping by said that it was owned by someone in a close by apartment and would let them know where the chicken was. No one showed up. No body has shown up since. I took the chicken since I at least know something about them and the garage sell lady asked me "Pretty please?"

Frankie first reaction was to ram the chicken. Of course the chicken was too fast for Frankie. After about six hours Frankie gave up and the chicken relaxed. Now Frankie can walk right by the chicken and neither are bothered by the other. But there is a problem with food. If I bring a carrot for Frankie the chicken wants some. Corn has to be divided. Frankie is eating the bird food. They have to share under the porch for a cool area.

Oh, but now Frankie will not sit under the porch any more. He has found himself a cool area with "no dumb chicken." He has been watching me interact with the chicken. I guess he thinks it is getting more attention. Isn't this the first child syndrome? A second child comes around and the first feels neglected, left out, unloved. Well, really, this is how Frankie is acting.

So I am looking for a new home. I already got a lead. Maybe by the weekend Frankie will be an only child again. Until then, I am wondering if Frankie will stay on the other side of the yard? <_<

Oh, one of the box turtles is digging holes to lay eggs. I haven't caught them and I have no idea who yet. I will have to watch closely.

June 23, 2008

Caught With Candy

I was doing my afternoon check on Frankie and found him in the very back by the fence eating candy! It looks like stringy jelly candy with white powder on it, smells like watermelon. It looked as though he had already eaten about 1/4 of it when I arrived.

I took what was left from him (he was pretty upset). I've kept what was left just in case.

I usually do a daily walk in the back because occasionally the apartment people will toss empty coke cans or beer bottles in our yard. Frankie has no interest in any of that. But this is the first time that they've tossed food (that I know of) and I've found him eating it. I am pretty upset. Maybe I will have to put another camera in to monitor that area.

So, I guess I am on Frankie tummy ache watch. Hopefully he is okay and just got away with some contraband.

June 20, 2008

Spot the Turtle

Last week of all fruit for the box turtles. The cricket man cometh! Hard to believe the box turtles would tire of fruits. I brought them some freshly picked blackberries (yum) and they hardly ate any. I guess variety is the spice of life even for turtles.

Frankie is just a sulcata in a yard. He gets up when the sun wakes him but he stays in his enclosure watching until it suits him to come outside which is usually around 8:30 +/-. He starts his yard walk around 9:00. By 9:45/10:00 its warm enough for him to choose a morning shade spot. He may do another walk around before settling under the porch by 10:30. And that is where is stays to nearly 4:00. Then its time for yard walk-about. To his shelter at 5:45 and watch out the door until 6:00. I check on him around that hour and if I stay in the yard he will come out and spend time with me before going back to bed for the night.

During the day I spend time at the computer watching Frankie on Frankie TV. I know his routine so I get to see him lots. Some people have e-mailed me mentioning that they never see Frankie. I think checking Frankie TV for two minutes hardly stands a chance to see him. Checking him according to his routine affords better chances of seeing him. I've told people to e-mail me when they are going to turn Frankie TV on and I will lure Frankie out into the open. So far, no one has taken me up on this.

But for now, Frankie TV is pleasurable for me. I can get some writing done and still watch ole' Franks.

June 15, 2008

Summer Treats

There is a plethora of fruits available for the box turtles as of late but I think they miss their worms. I've had pears, bananas, peaches, blueberries, blackberries (from my yard) and nectarines. Summer diet can be a bit different than a spring or fall diet so I think they can handle it until I get crickets and worms next week.

Frankie is all set up under the porch for hot days. The air conditioner's water hose is near by him so his ground is always damp. No need for me to constantly water him down. The bad thing is Frankie dumps the water from his pool every time he uses it. No water conservation in Frankie's life. I've put various things in the way to prevent him from walking over the edge but its no use. He has taken down tables in his exit out of the pool.

Frankie is enjoying occasional left overs from the box turtle's fruit. Not enough fruit to hurt Frankie because when I cut up fruit for the boxies its only about three table spoons of fruit. Frankie is lucky to get one tablespoon. I just don't want any fruit left on the ground for the fire ants to find.

The Frankie Cam is up and working. PM a request for the web address.

June 11, 2008

More Work Less Talk

I've been spending more time with the turtles than thinking about the turtles which is why there is less to write about the turtles. I think that is normal for good weather. Daily routines are doubled since I have to go outdoors to do my turtle maintenance rather than work them into my daily indoor gecko chores.

But getting outdoors can be tricky for me. As much as I like warmer temperatures and so do the turtles, none of us like the hotter temperatures. So I try to get out early in the day to feed and water turtles. In the late evening when the sun is not directly on the yard, I can get some work done on the yard. Which is what I did last night.

I did another section of the chain link fence. Frankie does not pace the area that is fixed. But it looks as if I will need to buy another section of boarder to get everything covered.

I've let the box turtle area's grass get tall so they get to run around in areas with good cover. When I go looking for them they are tucked under large clumps of grass. Each morning before it gets too hot I clean out their water and refill it for them. Since the "pond" is not set into the ground, I still have to help them in. Digging a hole for the big dish is also on the late evening chore list.

The box turtles are getting lots more veggies mixed in with ripe fruit. I've had banana, peach and pear to mix in. They all love that. Even the baby box turtle is getting more fruit and veggies. Once a week the boxies, young and old, get super worms.

Frankie grazes so no need to supplement his diet. But with the Frankie Cam working, I find myself tossing treats in front of the camera so people can see him. Not everyone can move the camera so they can find Frankie so I try to get him front and center so he can be seen. Just something else that needs to be done.

June 8, 2008

Fence Solution

One fourth of the fences in Frankie's yard is chain link. Chain link fences pose a major problem for sulcata tortoises. Sulcata see through the fence and so they want through to the other side. As sulcata get bigger, pushing through chain link fences become very easy.

We've done several things permanently and temporary to keep Frankie from pushing through. First, we sunk the chain link fence about a foot underground into cement. Helps a lot. Last year I put up black cloth to keep him from seeing through. Frankie didn't mess with the fence where the cloth was hung. But weather finally brought most of the cloth down. This year another solution, semi-permanent, but seems to work better.

I've had some plastic garden strips since Frankie was little.
Attached Image

The strops worked well when Frankie was shorter but since he has grown to see over the top I have not used them for much except for the box turtles.
Attached Image

This spring, I got an idea. I attached one strip to the fence and added a second strip over the top of the first. And it works.Attached Image

Frankie doesn't pace this area of the fence. I still have some more areas to finish but I am about half way through getting it put up.

June 4, 2008

Cool Strategies

Today is the hottest day so far this year - about 90ºF. Frankie is coping by checking out several possible sites around the yard for the coolest, shaded spot. One is up right by the old brush pile, one is back by the fence where he occasionally attempts to sleep during cooler days, and the third is under the porch.

Of course, I like Frankie under the porch. Easy for me to go out and give him his daily carrot. Plus his pool is right there and I can fill it up (cause he is constantly draining it). The dirt under the porch is getting a little muddy and when I was down there today it smelled like "dirty barn". I tossed some Frankie poop out hoping that helps. May have to consider other things to keep it tidy. But the wet ground is part of the cooling process.

[On a side note, I saw Frankie do a big pee outside this morning and thought to myself how lucky I am its summer and I don't have lots of Frankie pee to mop up - Yea!]

Big turtle is sitting in an area right next to Frankie. I suspect that Big Turtle watches Frankie's activities. But Big Turtle has selected a very cool area. She is next to the box turtle's water source which gets dumped and runs right to where she is sitting. Again, cool wet ground is a good strategy.

Me? Well, I don't use AC in the house during the day so its not unusual for temperatures to get into the mid 80's which can feel hot. How do I cool down? Why go outside for a little while and feel that 90 degree heat. When I go inside again the mid 80's feel down right cool. Another good strategy - ice tea.

June 2, 2008

Frankie Cam

Greg is going to install a camera for Frankie! We already have security cameras installed but they don't show anything interesting like geckos or turtles. But this one will show Frankie doing his thing in the backyard. How cool is that? During three seasons it will be really fun to watch Frankie because he is such an active tortoise. I guess during the winter we can keep the birds in bird seed and we can watch them.

I really enjoy watching Frankie from the window and porch so I figure lots of people will like to watch him do his thing in the yard. It will be not only nice but educational. Not everyone gets to experience a sulcata living in a large space. Maybe it will be time to put in another Frankie slide.

Does this mean I will have to start wearing make-up and wearing nice shirts? Gads, when I work with the geckos I wear some rough looking T-shirts. Certainly not for public viewing. Oh, well, I guess that's life. Besides, its all about Frankie!

May 30, 2008

Tortoise Leash

Wow! A sulcata leash! I kid you not! I was taking Frankie on a walk around the neighborhood yesterday evening. During any walk there are always problem areas where Frankie will not walk in the direction I want to go. I have to use my foot to guide him by either putting it under his carapace just behind his front leg and lifting him to move him in the new direction. Or, I can put my foot just enough in front of him that he is forced to re-direct himself.

The second method of putting my foot slightly in front of him usually means I will be stepped on, sometimes painfully depending on where he puts his foot. My foot was already bruised and still healing from our weekend walk (five days ago) and I wasn't looking forward to using this technique.

By corner #5, the top of my foot was getting sore. I didn't want to put him on the skateboard because we were heading up a very steep hill. But a thought came to my mind - why not try using the luggage strap? So I put it around his carapace just behind his front legs and ta-da! a sulcata leash. By holding the leash I could guide him left and right in the direction I needed without using my foot.

Oh, did I say it was easy? When is anything easy with a 48 pound sulcata? Guiding Frankie turned into a tug of war and I will say we almost were equal in strength -- but I won out. It does need some work.

The luggage strap cost me $1.50 at Wal-Mart.

It must be an unusual sight - a big tortoise on a leash

May 27, 2008

Basic Need to Walk

When I read information about sulcata tortoise I think one of the most overlooked behaviors is their need to walk. One may read that the sulcata in its natural environment can walk five to eleven miles (depending on the source material) and has a territory of about five miles (again depending on the source material). In its natural environment, they walk great distances to get to fresh grazing areas and to their water sources.

Rarely does this behavior translate into recommended husbandry. I noticed that very few sources emphasized the need for the sulcata to have ample space to walk around. Authors note that sulcata pace, they note that they will try to get through fences but few get the reason why.

Off hand I cannot think of another animal that needs to walk as much as sulcata tortoises do. Many animals need space and exercise like horses and dogs. But the sulcata as a built in instinct to walk.

How do I know this? Besides evidence of natural behavior, I observe Frankie's all obsession to walk. When I take him out to walk, Frankie is on a mission. He doesn't seem to need to "get somewhere" but rather a need to just walk. He easily walks one mile with me and if I had the patience (it takes a good hour and fifteen minutes to walk a mile) he would go a full second mile and maybe more. During his walks, he is not distracted by much. Yes, Frankie will stop for a dandelion, but he really loves dandelions. He stop for hardly anything else, including children standing in the way.

I think that many many sulcata are spiritually broken in captivity because they are not allow to walk and are kept in small spaces. The worse cases are those sulcata kept permanently in basements or tubs. Their spirit is broken, their muscle atrophy. I have also seen some rescued sulcata stare amazingly at the great outdoors for the first time in their life.

Sulcata are not the kind of tortoises that should be kept in basements. They should not be kept in small yards. They should have the space to walk.

If you love your sulcata, take him on a walk. You will be amazed.

May 25, 2008

Taking Care of Frankie

One of the sad aspects of approaching summer months is Frankie spends all his time outside. I don't get to see him first thing in the morning when I water the geckos at 7:00 in the morning. I usually don't see him until almost 9:00 am when he finally comes out of this outdoor house to do his morning bask. When I work with the geckos Frankie is outside all day. And I don't see him each night when I water the gecko. But Frankie loves to be outdoors and that is where he is most happy.

As the day gets hot, Frankie sits under the patio and stairs which affords him both good shade, a breeze from the AC unit, and a good view of the whole yard. When he is under the stairs I cannot see him unless I go all the way downstairs. When he his under the porch I can see him through the breaks between the wood.

The patio has a canopy and bug screen so I can spend more time out there even when it is hot. It must be a funny sight to see a human sitting on the patio looking over the yard and sitting on the ground directly under the human is a sulcata tortoise also looking over the yard.

I do enjoy tucking Frankie in every night. When he goes in his home for the night I go out each evening and open the top to check on him. I rearrange the hay so he is snug. If the plastic flaps are in disarray I will fix those up so there is no drafts.

Maybe its nice that the routine I have caring for Frankie changes with the season. I can enjoy the differences that each season brings.

May 23, 2008

Happy World Turtle Day

Do something nice for your turtle.

Frankie got an extra carrot and all the turtles and Frankie got to sleep inside last night.

May 20, 2008

Fence and Yard

Today I worked on turtle yard and fences. Really had to work myself up for the job. I've been a bit allergy sensative lately so I was afraid that getting outside and cutting grass would set me up for a major attack. So, before opening the door, I put on a allergy mask to help a bit. And it did help.

I first got outside and mowed Frankie's yard. First time I've mowed his yard in almost a year and a half. I usually weed whack. Mostly because our old lawn mower was very heavy and even with its motor driven wheels, it really wore me out. This time I used the lawn mower we bought last fall. It made mowing Frankie big yard much easier. I mowed at 8:00 am when Frankie was still in his house not yet ready to get up for the day.

I managed to pick up the mower into the box turtle area. The grass was so high there that I was getting chiggers (lawn bugs that get under skin) on my legs. I don't like to mow in the box turtle area because I am always afraid there will be a baby turtle somewhere. But I mowed only in the center area - no baby turtles around. Then the mower ran out of gas. Decided that was a sign to stop. But basically the back yard and box turtle area was well mowed.

I then installed plastic garden barriers on one of the chain link fences to see if it would keep Frankie from pacing the fence. I cut the plastic into two pieces and attached them to the fence one on top and the second underneath. That gave height to the barrier to keep Frankie from seeing the other side.

After watching Frankie the rest of the day, the barrier worked. He ignored that area of the fence and instead paced in the area where there was no barrier. So, I think I will do the same on the reminding chain link fence.

What did I do the rest of the day -- recovered!

May 18, 2008

Do Dah Day Pet Parade

Frankie did fantastic at Do Dah Day Pet Parade! Frankie walked the entire parade making it past the judges and to Do Dah Day's official site at Rhodes Park. THEN Frankie walked the entire way back to the car. By the time we got back to the car, Greg and I were exhausted and barely standing. When we got home Frankie was ready for another walk. Me? I need chocolate, a big glass of ice tea, a foot massage and a two hour nap.

Along the route, people who recognized Frankie from the last two parades where yelling "Frankie! Frankie! Frankie!" Frankie stopped for nothing. When he gets walking he is in the "Zone" looking dead ahead and never missing a step. Well, except for the occasional carrot and anyone with those orange Croc shoes!

Regretfully, we were running late and forgot our camera. We rely instead on other's photos. Here is a link to one:

May 16, 2008

Caught in the cold rain

Its been a little rough here for the last couple of days. Temperatures are into the 70s but no sun. Yesterday it rained from 8:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon. Although the box turtles stayed out the night, I finally bought them in around 11:00 am when the rain got heavy and they were heading into the highest area of their enclosure.

Frankie was out for the night and all day yesterday. He sat with his head out his door watching the rain. I felt pretty bad for him. I brought him a handful of grasses and weeds (and got soaked in rain because of it). Regretfully, by 6:00 pm Frankie was so cold he wouldn't even back up fully inside his enclosure (this can happen to sulcata and it is a very dangerous situation). I dragged him back inside his enclosure and tried to get the heater to come on. I mess something up and it wouldn't come on so I made the decision to drag Frankie inside the house to get him warm.

Since he would hardly move, I did have to drag him partially across the grass to get him closer to his wagon. Once in the wagon I got him into the garage. Then I put him on his skateboard (wagon can't get around the car) and dragged him into the gecko room. Still he was too cold to get into his indoor night box. So I pushed him to the front opening. Frankie managed to get himself inside. (Just one mention as to how badly my back aches today)

This morning he was awake when I went to water the geckos at 6:45 am. At 7:00 when I was finished I stopped by to check on Frankie again and he was asleep. I really hope he doesn't get sick. Tomorrow is Do Dah Day Pet Parade and I have really looked forward to bringing him there. I will be back down in the gecko room to feed in a couple of hours and think I will put Frankie on top of his other heat pad.

May 12, 2008

Bravo Boxies

I have neglected to mention a very special box turtle event: Brown Eyes laid three eggs last week. Two eggs are doing very well and one continues to get a dent no matter how damp I keep it. Although its been more than a year since Brown Eyes was around my male, Bama, box turtles are extremely efficient sperm retainers so it is very possible for all the eggs to be fertile.

I have the eggs buried 90% in organic soil. The container with the eggs is kept in the gecko room. I check it several times daily while doing my regular gecko chores.

Also neglected is an update on Pumpkin, the juvenile box turtle. Pumpkin is doing so very well. She is very well shaped and is now getting some height to her carapace that is normal to adult box turtles. I have not always done as well with juvenile box turtles as I have with Pumpkin. Some juveniles in the past have not had this beautiful shaped carapace as Pumpkin has so I am happy that I have done better by her. Its also time to get her a bigger enclosure and to spend time outside in the sun.

Greg and I had fresh strawberries for desert last night so the box turtles got strawberry tops for breakfast plus an over ripe banana. Soon I will be downstairs getting the same strawberry and bananas to Pumpkin. Pumpkin has shown little interest in anything but worms and insects so I think it is time to start adding veggies and fruits to her diet.

A final note: I am going back and fixing all the images in the blog. So far I have most of 2007 fixed. It will take several months to get everything fixed.

May 11, 2008

Do Dah Day Considerations

One week to Do Dah Day Pet Parade! Frankie is in full time training! We walked at the Leeds Park Walk Track. Did good time. Still having problems with those curves. I guess it is just a sulcata thing. But the weather was good so we never got too hot. I brought a water container just in case along with his skateboard.

I need to do some work on the skateboard. Still working on a way to tack down the rubber cushion to the skateboard top. It really needs the cushion to keep Frankie from scratching his shell on the rough skateboard surface and to help keep him on the skateboard (he slides off). Tried hot glue and a heavy duty construction glue but neither sticks to the skateboard surface. Greg is suggesting that I cut a plywood board to fit the top of the skateboard, drill the board to the skateboard and then glue the rubber surface to the plywood. Gee, lots of work when Greg doesn't like me near power tools.

Still working on logistics -- do I walk alone with Frankie, do I find a friend to go, should Greg drop us at the start and then meet us at the other end? All things to be figured out. Greg shouldn't walk because of his bad foot (in physical therapy). Greg did manage to walk in the Walk for Autism but we probably walked less because Greg tried to keep up with us. Funny, Frankie would not only out walk Greg but he would easily out walk me if he could.

So we got six days to work out details.

May 9, 2008

We should all cry

A friend of mine who has already adopted one severely neglected sulcata is about to receive a second severely neglected sulcata. It is very horrible that the sulcata's first family did not consider their care to be wrong.

The sulcata was raised in New York (a sulcata raised in the North is a big challenge). He was described as "well cared for" and "large enough to mix with kids." When the sulcata arrived in California (its new home) it was severely undersized for its age, the back flat and lumpy, and the beak completely malformed. Its lower jaw jutted past the upper like a scoop.

The current caretaker (trying to rehabilitate it for its new home at my friend's house) said they cried when she placed it in its temporary new outdoor quarantine pen. She said the pitiful malformed little sulcata was sitting in the sun, its skinny little back legs stretched out behind him and neck stretch out as far as it would just soaking up the warmth of the sun. She had the distinct feeling it was probably the first time this poor sulcata had ever seen sunlight or had a chance to walk around.

With his weaken state and deformed body it can never be around children, pets or other normal sulcata. And yet its former owner called it healthy and well cared for.

This case, and many other cases (too many cases) make me cry for the sulcata species in captivity. How very very few sulcata live in good homes and get proper care.

I plea with anyone considering a sulcata - evaluate, re-evaluate your long term situation for the sake of the sulcata. Learn about care and then re-check what you think is correct sulcata husbandry. For the sake of all captive sulcata, consider adopting a sulcata before you buy a hatchling. Do not breed your sulcata. Four of five sulcata will be abandoned, turned over to rescued groups or sold by their owners who just were not ready for the big responsibility. Very very few grow up to be healthy specimens.

I look at Frankie and almost think he is a freak of nature. He is actually healthy. But even he is not the picture of what a real sulcata should look like. After all my preparations, all my research, all I learned, I made mistakes. More than I want to admit. If I made so many mistakes can you image what happens when to a sulcata bought by someone who compulsively buys a cute little baby and has never owned any type of turtle before?

May 6, 2008

Famous Frankie

Frankie was a celebrity again! This last weekend he was featured in an pet article. As soon as I can I will get a scan of the article and post it on this blog so everyone can see it.

Until then, here is the text:

No hare apparent as tortoise takes its time in Birmingham-area Walk for Autism.
Sunday, May 04, 2008, Slow but sure:
I felt like a bit of a slacker after learning that a tortoise participated in the Walk for Autism 2008 while my dog, Vito, and I were home on the couch.

True, Frankie - a sulcata tortoise who belongs to Leann Christenson of Leeds - didn't exactly set the pace at the recent 3K walk at Regions Park. But he plodded on nonetheless.

"Everyone quickly passed him, but he didn't care," Christenson says.

Frankie wasn't allowed to complete the event, because public safety officials requested that he leave the road once all walkers passed.

"I think Frankie walked about 45 minutes, which means he walked just under one mile," Christenson says.

But he would've gladly finished, she says, and was in fine shape to do so. The pair's training sessions, which started with one-mile walks, progressed to two miles closer to the event.

Way to go Frankie! Walk on!

May 4, 2008

Missed the rain

Saturday morning we were expecting big storms again so the question always comes up whether to bring the turtles and Frankie inside or leave them outside. So, outside for the night and inside first thing in the morning before the storm hits. Sounds okay.

Storm hit very very early in the morning about 6:00 or so. All turltes outside. But all turtles okay. By 10:00 am, everyone was back in the sun and damp earth running around. Box turtles especially walk around after a rain. Frankie was walking all over as soon as he warmed up.

May 1, 2008

Frosty Turts

Poor Frankie, poor box turtles, another two nights inside. We had a cold snap with nigthtime temperatures into the high 30's. No outside sleeping for turtles.

We were in a real quandry on Tuesday because both Greg and I had to get up extra early and be out of the house by 6:00 am. We had two choices - leave Frankie inside for the day with 100% of complete distruction of gecko room, or put him outside at 6:00 in the morning when it was very cold.

Outside at 6:00 was the choice. We turned on his outdoor heat all night so it was warm and toasty in the morning and carried (!! - 48 pounds is getting tough) him into his prepared shelter.

By the time we checked on him that night, he was fine, back in his warm outdoor enclosure.

But turtles go outside today.

April 29, 2008

How the Wicked Witch Really Died

The difference between a dog and a sulcata is 15 minutes.

If the weatherman says you have ten minutes to get to your safe area, that a tornado will be at your house in 15 minutes, you will probably die if you have a sulcata outside.

A dog will get inside in 20 seconds but the sulcata will be the death of you as it meanders toward the house -- "oh, look, a dandelion! I just have to stop and eat that!" -- As time ticks away and the sulcata hasn't even gotten ten feet, you have to run outside to drag it inside.

Meanwhile, a tornado swoops down and carries you and your sulcata to the great Emerald City. Splat. And that is how the Wicket Witch really died.

April 27, 2008

Walking on eggs

I'ts Sunday evening and I just found Brown Eye (box turtle) laying eggs. Took her about 30 minutes to complete the process (she had already dug the hole when I found her). Three eggs were laid. Its been around a year since she been around a male so they may very well be fertile. I am treating them as such.

I'ts going to be in the low 40's tonight so all turtles are in for tonight and tomorrow night.

Frankie did fantastic at the Walk for Autism. Here are some of my favorite pictures.

April 24, 2008

Two Days To Go

Two days until Frankie walks in the Walk for Autism. Melanie Jones, who invited Frankie to the walk, e-mailed me that she was pleased that Frankie was planning to attend. She liked his fundraising page ( ). I also had contact with Kathy Sealey from the Birmingham News who is looking forward to seeing some pictures of Frankie at the walk. I am bringing the camera and a walking buddy so someone can take pictures.

We are expecting some scattered rain on Saturday. Good news that it will not be so hot and there will be some clouds. No so good if it gets too cool or Frankie doesn't want to walk. But I have the cart so I could pull him - oh, that isn't great news either. I wish they would give more information about the walk like how long the walk, on cement or track, etc. so we can all prepare.

I have to get dressed, etc. so I can take Frankie on a walk around the block this morning. We went for a short walk yesterday afternoon but it got too hot and Frankie headed for bushes to cool off. When we got home he went into the garage to cool off. After his temperature reduced he went into the back yard to resume mowing responsibilities.

April 22, 2008

Earth Day Activities

Frankie got to sleep inside for probably the last time this spring. So he had to tear up the gecko room one more time for good measure. He very much wanted a walk this morning when I got him outside but I had a load of work to do so I sent him off to the backyard to do some Earth-friendly mowing. First he acted as a solar power battery and got sun-energized. Then he did a couple of laps around the yard. When he finally settled into some grazing, oops, I mean mowing, Frankie looked a bit hot so I hosed him down with some water after filling his pool with clean fresh water. Right now he is mowing the very back area so I can't see him but I can hear him walking though the leaves.

Box turtles stayed inside last night, too. I think they are ready for outside sleep, too. With the box turtles I still need to check on them nightly to see that they are "tucked" in securely. Big Turtle cannot dig into good spots and can sometimes leave herself exposed. With her, I have to be extra careful to see she is okay nightly.

For my Earth day activities I planted a tomato plant, a red bell pepper plant, some basil and parsley. Love fresh garden foods. Still have more to go. I also replanted a fern. I brought out houseplants that were inside for the winter. Back porch was cleaned up and my porch umbrella is up. Now I can watch the turtles in comfort and shade.

April 20, 2008

Ode to Go

Sulcata seem to be eager about sharing their "natural functions" when visiting schools and groups. I usually show up carrying a basket of towels and cleaning agents just for these "accidents." But its my techniques to prevent Frankie accidents when he visits groups that my friends rave about.

Just recently I put together "2+2" that a female turtle equals Frankie faucet (i.e., if Frankie gets around a female turtle, he nearly always pees). So before taking Frankie to the church the other day, I put the full prevention plan to work.

First, I put Frankie on his heated pig blanket in the morning which almost always gets the poop machine going. Then I brought out one of my female box turtles for Frankie to sniff. When Brown Eyes was set in front of him for a few minutes Frankie peed. So, before Frankie was packed into the car for the trip to the church, he had done both "business" for the day. At the church there was no "funny business".

All this got rave reviews from sulcata friends who know all too well about generous sulcata outputs during outings. I mentioned that if I could bottle that female turtle smell then I would not have to expose the poor female box turtle to horny Frankie. Phoebe, on of my friend sulcata owners, thought I should call the bottled scent "Ode to Go". Priceless!

April 18, 2008

Frankie goes to church

Frankie had a special day visiting Huffman United Methodist Church Day Care Center. Frankie was so very well behaved. We expected initially to see about twelve children for about thirty minutes. But who can resist Frankie. I think he saw the entire school (except babies) and was there for forty five minutes. We were in the center court yard which made management of Frankie the Walking Fool in one area. Left to his own mind, he would have walked down the street to the next county. He is just like that.

At the school he just walked and walked and walked and walked. One endless walk all over the courtyard. Children simply gathered in areas and Frankie would walk by them. Students touched his shell and some got to feed him dandelions and carrots (the only time Frankie wasn't walking)

We took a picture of him. Of course, he didn't sit still for the photo. We had the children in a group and then got Frankie to walk in front of them. The photographer got to be on the ball to get Frankie's picture.

When we got back home, Frankie was ready to take a long walk in the neighborhood. I was exhausted. He went into the yard. I could really use a nap - but the day is early and I may still get one in.

Special mention and thanks to Kim Rafferty for the invitation.

April 16, 2008

Why We Like Spring

The last cold snap has passed (hopefully) and we have lots of spring-like weather to look forward to. Of course, spring weather is turtle weather! Probably the favorite time of year for turtles.

The box turtles love it simply because it means getting out of the house (or hibernation for those down for the winter). Their diet can include insects, bugs, grubs, slugs and snails - yea!

Frankie is ecstatic! His favorite temperatures are in the high 70s with full sun. Yep, 80s get too hot and 90s are just way too hot. The reason being is that the sun really brings up a sulcata's body temperature to its preferred temperature. So ambient temperatures outdoors don't need to be HOT for sulcata to be happy rather the temperatures need to be warm with sun.

So, here are some pictures of Frankie enjoying the sun and fresh grass.

April 12, 2008

Training for the Walk

Frankie is in training for the Walk for Autism. Today we went to the Leeds Park that has a 1 mile walking trail and guess what....Frankie walked the whole trail. He did a very brisk walk, had few difficulties, and didn't get overheated. I bought his skateboard in case but never needed it. That is real progress on his training. Cool! I guess it took about 1 hour and 1/2 to finish. Or at least that is how long it took to get to the park and back and walk the mile.

What is really neat is three people have donated $45 for Frankie's walk. Having Frankie invited to walk at the Walk for Autism is such an honor, but for him to be able to help too is really great, thanks to his benefactors. I have sent thank you letters with Frankie's picture to the donors.

Frankie enjoyed the rest of the day at home. We have a cold front coming through but hopefully we will have a little sun so Frankie can get outside - otherwise he will go crazy! "Let me outside to walk!!!"

April 10, 2008

Sun and No Sun

Although spring is here, I am having to bring turtles in at night. Mostly because morning sun is not all that reliable. This morning, I didn't turn Frankie's heat on because we were expecting some sun this morning. So, I let Frankie outside (moving slowly to the yard he was) so he could warm up under the expecting sun -- which didn't really materialize. Finally, I brought Frankie in at 11:00 am to warm up on his pig blanket.

45 minutes later, I go downstairs and enter into a Frankie disaster area. Guess I am getting used to it -- pee & poop everywhere. He was outside for two hours but waited until he came back inside to do his duty. As I say, I am getting used to it. So, since he was warm, I let him outside.

I am also pleased that Frankie is his old self. Nothing like what he was like in February when he sat around, stayed in his box and refused to eat. Checking on him for the rest of the day, he was all over the yard grazing and walking. He wanted a walk but I was really needing to do things in the house and then later in the afternoon it was getting a bit hot outside.

Box turtles are out in the day and in at night. When I fed them yesterday, only Brown Eyes was real hungry. Big Turtle ate just a little and Mama Turtle didn't eat. Maybe they are finding food outside. That would be nice.