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



January 30, 2008

Frankie's Appetite

Frankie is getting hungry. Yesterday, I cut hay up with a little produce and the first two meals were eaten, some picking through, but overall with great welcome. But last night, after light were out and Frankie had been asleep for a couple of hours, I brought some produce down to cut up for the crickets. I also had a small number of strawberry tops that I was going to leave down stairs for Frankie's breakfast.

I hadn't gotten in the room and past Frankie's sleeping box when he woke up, came out of the box and pursued me in the room. I guess he could smell the produce and strawberries. So I cut up some orchard grass and added the few strawberry tops. That Frankie followed me until I put the meal down on this eating area. He was hungry! I have never seen him wake up to get food.

This morning we are expecting sun and temperatures just below 50. Good enough for Frankie to get some outside time. Hopefully he can get some grazing time to catch up with his appetite.

January 27, 2008

Walks Inside, Walks Outside

Frankie's outside!!!!! He is grazing as fast as he possibly can - poor dear, he hasn't had but scant meals for almost a week now - he just picks at his orchard grass that I prepare for him. But today, sun shining and temperatures warming up, he is outside doing his favorite thing.

Yesterday, with so many days inside, I took him to his two favorite shops, Petco and PetSmart, for some serious walking and shopping. We needed cat food, cat litter, orchard grass, bird food and suet. FYI - the orchard grass was $3.00 with the PetSmart card and $5 at Petco (no Petco card discount). Any savings is good when you have to buy an item over and over again.

Frankie liked walking best in Petco. Really a well lit store and light colored floors so walking around everywhere is fun. In PetSmart, he likes the back of the store most - that is where it is brightest. Employees at both stores now know Frankie by name.

I need to get the date of the Autistic walk. Don't want to miss that. I believe it is in March so I have time to find it. Just don't want to forget to find it.

January 24, 2008

Tough Love

Frankie has still not had but a few moments outside everyday. He is probably really hungry. I am giving him some damp orchard grass but he is soooo reluctant to dig in and eat it. I have to mix a little produce or weeds to get him to eat it. I am not really wanting to go outside for weeds or grass -- it is really cold outside -- so he is not getting lots of that. I am reluctant to give him much produce either. Its eat the orchard grass or nothing, Franks. Tough love, buddy.

This weekend, no matter what, I will take him to PetSmart/Petco for a walk. He really wants to walk. Can't walk outside but at the pet stores he can. The pet stores don't mind. Frankie is a bit of an attraction. Good for business.

January 21, 2008

I don't do cold

t was a very trying weekend for Frankie and the box turtles. The temperatures, day and night, hardly ever got above freezing. The gecko room does stay warm but one can hardly deny the effects of drafts, etc when outside temperatures are sooo cold.

The box turtles are eating so little now a days. Today, I am going to give them a soak in warm water before I feed them. I hope that warming up will have a good effect. I think I will reposition them in an area under some warmer lights just to stimulate them more. They do get UV, but less than what they get in the summer.

Frankie was plain bored. I tried to spend time downstairs with him. When I am around he tends to be more active which he needs. Regretfully, because of the cold, snow and general fear of ice, Greg was reluctant that I take Frankie to PetSmart for a walk. But he wants to walk. I cut up carrots and placed them in various areas around the gecko room. Sorta a hide and seek game for Frankie. Really got him going.

He is doing well with his dry grass. He does prefer it damp. Wish he will eat it dry -- it would be better for him. As for outside grass and weeds, well, I just don't want to go out there to pick any. There is hope today as the temperatures are supposed to go to 50ºF. If Frankie will be patient and wait until at least 11:00 am, he can get outside in the better temperatures.

Yesterday, during the later part of the day, Frankie did go to the gecko room door, "please, just let me outside!". So, I did open the door into the garage and let him walk toward the back door. When he was almost to the back door, I opened it up. That freezing draft hit him and it wasn't but a second and he was turning back around to get back into the gecko room. He went straight to his nice warm box. He did come back out a bit later, but it was obvious he attitude toward that cold - I'm no fool -- warm is my preferred temperature!

January 17, 2008

Well Trained

Update on Frankie's potty training - absolute success! Frankie pees on the floor and he has me trained to clean it up promptly. He is also so good to wait until I am around to pee so that he doesn't have to "wade" through his pee all day. I am always right there. He has me well trained. So much for my training plan.

He is a mighty bored sulcata. He spent the morning alone in the gecko room and there is no evidence that he did anything but sit in his box of newspaper waiting for me to come home. When I got home, I promptly went outside and collected some weeds (looking rather peaked from the very cold weather). I mix it with the dampened orchard grass. When I put the stuff on his "eating platform" he gobbled it down (coming out of the box probably for the first time that day). He also got a carrot.

I gave him from front shell rubbings and he stood up on his front toes as high as possible as I rubbed and rubbed. Never seen anything like that except when he was trying to look bigger than a dog at Pet Smart. Then he walked around the gecko room for a bit and then insisted on going outside. His outside trip lasted about six minutes. At least he came back inside before he got too cold. Then he went back into his box of newspapers for the night.

January 16, 2008

Turtle Will

For the last week, I've dealt with a sudden health issue. Luckily, it looks like I've come out on the positive side. But it brought to the foreground what impact it would have on all the geckos and turtles should something have gone the other way.

I am the primary care taker of all the animals. I am at home daily to take care of feeding, watering, cleaning, and most important, playing responsibilities. Without me as primary care given, Greg and I would be forced to make decisions about what to do with everyone.

Frankie would be largely impacted. During the summer, he is free to live in the backyard and feeds with little help (needs help with water). But during the winter, caring for Frankie means getting him inside and outside when the temperatures get warm enough, supplementing his food and cleaning up after him. Greg could not do this as he leaves for work before the sun rises and in mid-winter comes home after the sun sets. Frankie benefits from my being home as he needs more attention.

When it comes to gecko and turtle care, Greg would be hard pressed to spend the minimum of three hours after work taking care of all the geckos and turtles and still having time to take care of himself.

Greg and I have given thought to all this, even before my health crisis this last week. We began planning a "animal directive" which gives specific directions on what should be done if Greg and I become incapacitated. There are certain local friends who would be called in to give daily care until all the geckos and turtles could be placed in new homes. We have already selected a turtle rescue group to take care of Frankie's and the three box turtle's adoption. Our geckos would be distributed to a certain number of people who would know best where to place them. I would prefer to be here to supervise the disbursement of my beloved Frankie, turtles and geckos, but wanting certain things and not knowing the future, plans need to be on paper and shared with other responsible persons. Certain things have been decided, but our plans are no where near completed and written out.

This last week makes the importance of this more real and important than ever.

January 14, 2008

Good Frankie, Bad Frankie

Since last posting, Frankie has been so good to go inside and outside all by himself. He was even so good to walk all the way into the backyard without stopping to graze in his "winter" grass area. To me, that is amazing. What takes eight minutes to accomplish is taking less than five minutes.

But, he went on strike yesterday. With temperatures above 50ºF, perfect for him outside, he refused to leave the gecko room. I must have opened the door a dozen times inviting him outside. Greg kept asking if Frankie had gone outside and I kept saying he hadn't. Finely Greg had enough. For the first time in a very, very long time, the bad Frankie was picked up and carried outside -- oh, not by me, by Greg. I am willing to scoot Frankie but no more major picks ups unless it is urgent or absolutely necessary.

So Frankie was outside while Greg and I ran some errands. We didn't get back before Frankie went into his outdoor shelter. I had to drag (not pick up) Frankie out of the shelter and then plead with him to walk the rest of the way inside into the gecko room. After much ho-hah, he did. Not in record time.

But I can hardly resist Frankie. He was sleeping when I went to the gecko room this morning, tucked deep inside his box his body under lots of newspapers. By the time I had finished watering everyone, Frankie had turned around face out to say good-morning to me. Morning Frankie! I just can resist my good boy!

January 9, 2008

Not A Morning Turtle

Generally, I am a morning person - under certain conditions. First, I need to wake up when I naturally wake up. Nothing sudden. If given the opportunity to wake up without alarms, etc. I am usually in a great mood. Either the first or second thing I do after waking is head down to the gecko room to water all the geckos. Its just routine.

Having all the turtles in for the winter makes going to the gecko room a real treat. Seeing them brings a moment of genuine joy to me. I believe that genuine joy can be elusive when one is real honest - at least in my life. But seeing my turtles is very joyous.

Even grumpy Frankie. Sometimes when I get downstairs, he is already awake. He has turned face out of his box and looks at me as I enter the room. But, a lot of the time when I enter he is still deep in his box, face inward. Usually he will hear me and turn around. When he does he just looks plain grumpy. When I say "hello" he retracts his head slightly and blinks almost as if to say "not so loud" sorta like someone who has had too much to drink the night before. He is just not ready to come out of that box. He will sit there until he is good and ready (awake) before he steps forward. This is usually around 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Box turtles are not like this at all. They are early risers. This seems to be a natural behavior. They are up and ready for food and water way before I get in the door. They must wake up at the first sign of morning light. Maybe I should consider feeding them first thing in the morning when I water geckos. They would probably like this. Now why hadn't I thought of this until just now?

In an hour or so I will be back downstairs to feed geckos. Frankie will finally be his regular self ready to head outside for sunshine, grazing and some serious walking.

January 7, 2008

A Day of Shopping

Frankie and I went shopping Sunday afternoon. We hit the pet stores soon after lunch to do some serious shopping with our gift certificates from Pet Smart and Pet Co. Of course, these are Frankie's favorite places to shop.

Frankie really enjoys exploring Pet Co (I-280 location). The bright interior, low shelving and white floor with red and blue specks really seem to make his walkabouts fun and easy. He nearly walked the entire store, or would it be more accurate to say explored the whole store. Since I have not shopped this store much it gave me time to get to look at all the products. I picked out some things for the cats, for Greg and for Frankie. Frankie got some Orchard Grass which he is still learning to eat.

Frankie met quite a few people. Employees remembered him from their costume contest and his previous visits. Young people in the store enjoyed him and lots of questions were answered. Cell phones with cameras were everywhere.

Next, we went to our regular stop, Pet Smart on I-280. Frankie navigates this store with some difficulty and it takes him some time to get to the cat area where I needed to pick up some things. Once in the cat area, the small bits of cat food kept Frankie busy and soon he was following a trail of food to the other side of the store. He met with some of his favorite store employees who always fuss over him. Shoppers are amazed and more questions are answered.

Getting out of Pet Smart proved difficult and only a trail of treats could get him to go to the front of the store so we could check out. Once we finally got through the check stand I put Frankie on top of the cat food and cat litter and off to the parking lot we went (not sure if Frankie felt very dignified on top of the cat stuff). Once at the car, we were greeted with a whole troop of folks fussed over Frankie.

I think that if Frankie was capable of signing autographs, people would take them.

When Frankie got home, he was simply exhausted and went straight to bed.

I didn't know it was possible to tire him out.

January 4, 2008

Let me out! Nevermind, let me in!

Today is the first day in three days that Frankie got to go outside. He was insistent - one can tell because he stands by the gecko room door and paces. I kept delaying letting him out till it was above 40º and hoping to get him out when it was above 50º (the expected high today). But Frankie was hungry.

First thing this morning, I gave him a carrot. I think he would have run me over to get to it! I had some cactus from the health food store and he devoured that. I even went outside and picked some freeze-surviving weeds, mixed it in with some damp Orchard hay and he did his best to pick through that, too. But what he wanted was OUTSIDE grazing time!


I put on my coat, opened doors (three total to get to the yard) and let Frankie outside. He made a bee-line (tortoise-line) to his winter patch of grass (rather bleak from the freeze) and ate what he could. He lasted about ten minutes outside. Reluctantly, chilled shell, he came back inside and got under his heat lamp.

(If you read the Sunday Birmingham Newspaper, check the Lifestyle Section, Pet Column for a surprise)

January 2, 2008

Water Falls

So much for potty training when Frankie soaks - that is when I put him in his "pool" to soak in water he will pee and then not pee on the floor. He has been so good! But today...well not so good.

I was sitting on the floor in the gecko room feeding super worms to the box turtles. Frankie was walking around the gecko room and suddenly I hear this sudden rush of water - lots of it. I know its Frankie peeing on the floor. Quickly, I get up and throw a towel on the pee. I wash it up and clean the area. I go back to feeding the box turtles.

Frankie walks over my way and he is behind me when I hear that sudden whoosh of water again - RIGHT BEHIND ME. I jumped. I barely missed getting pee on all over my behind...I mean just barely.

Where does all that pee come from???? I have seen a tortoise vent - the vent is not a big spout yet the amount of pee that can rush out is absolutely astonishing. But I digress.

So, Frankie's training isn't perfect. I guess I will be happy when he does pee in his water and not on the floor.

The good news is the gecko room gets mopped cleaned every time Frankie does let loose. I like a clean gecko room floor.

January 1, 2008

New Year's Resolution

Frankie has decided make some New Year's Resolutions. How nice.

His first is to exercise in a more spiritual way. He is doing yoga every morning.

Here is a pose of him this morning doing Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdha Mukha Svanasana).
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I have yet to catch a photo of him doing Lion Pose (Simhasana) but he does this one quite regularly.  I call it the Big Frankie Yawn.

What a nice way to start the New Year.