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



February 28, 2008

Frankies Atlas

Frankie has occasionally this month not been feeling his normal self: He has now and again not come out of his sleeping box all day, not wanted to walk around, refused to go outside even when its great outside, and sometimes not eaten. I have kept close watch to see what possibly was going on. But, this week, he turned down his favorite foods: he turned down carrots and OMG he turned down dandelions, his most favorite food in the world! That told me something really might be wrong. So I made an appointment to see Frankie's veterinarian, the very competent Dr Alvin Atlas of Birmingham's Riverview Animal Hospital. Last night, Frankie pooped last night so I had a fresh fecal sample for Dr. Atlas.

So, we saw Dr. Atlas this morning, us being a worked-in client into Dr. Atlas' busy schedule. We had to wait a bit, but true to Frankie not feeling his normal self, he just sat in one place and didn't do an endless walk everywhere in the waiting area and examination room. That behavior in itself is a cry for help.

Dr. Atlas loves turtles. Maybe TOO much. He was so very generous and spent lots of time talking with me about Frankie and looking over Frankie very closely. He did a double check on the fecal sample. After careful consideration Dr. Atlas decided to treat Frankie for a gastrointestinal infection/imbalance. Although we could not pinpoint the cause, symptoms point in this direction. Frankie was given an antibiotic and diet suggestions.

Then, true to Dr. Atlas's love of turtle, he spend time just talking turtles with me. I am sure the staff rolled their eyes! But, Dr. Atlas's devotion to turtles and expertise on their heath is why I go to him. He takes excellent care of my turtles.

And, Frankie weighs a whopping 48 pounds - Dr. Atlas says that Frankie is big for his age. Spoiled rotten Dr. Atlas says.

February 24, 2008

Shop and Park

I took Frankie shopping at PetCo and PetSmart, and then we went to the park. He was really needing to get out. Its not been quite right for him outside. Getting him to PetCo/PetSmart gives him a chance to get some walking in which he really loves to do. Since it was Sunday and before 1:00 pm, the store was not so full of people. But of those people who were there they loved him.

I took the skateboard to see if it would be helpful in getting him around. Yes and no. Sometimes he drags his feet and this may not be all so good for his toes. Getting him into the store worked okay. Getting him out of the store and pushing a cart at the same time was near impossible. When I was at the check-out stand, having him on the skateboard and holding onto the pull cord kept him from wondering away from me while I was busy....almost. He was still a handful.

At the park, I put him on the skateboard to get him to the grassy area I had picked out. Certainly its was easier to carry around the skateboard than to drag a cart all over. Getting a cart in and out of the car can be difficult.

We were closer to the kid's park than last time so we had more young visitors. I really must get cards for Frankie because there are so many questions and inquiries about him and about sulcatas.

I am really a timid person and would never approach or talk with a stranger except maybe to save my life. With Frankie I can talk to practically anyone. My normal shyness drops away when I am around him. I carry on long conversations with adults and children whom I would never before spoken to. In a way, its one of the rewards of having Frankie.

February 20, 2008

Seasonal Changes

Frankie has been getting some quality time in the sun. About noon I put him outside for some sun. For the last couple of days, I've had to drag him out on his skateboard but once he is outside he is happy. He walks, eats and then basks for hours.

Pretty soon it will be time for the box turtles to be spending time outside. The sun has shifted enough in the sky that the box turtle area in the yard has more sun during the day. That means I need to do some thinking about planting more in their yard. Last year I did some gardening with food plants but this year I think I will try flowers, food plants and maybe some more bushes. The box turtles really like getting under bushes.

I guess this also means thinking about getting sight barriers up on Frankie's few chain link fences. During the winter he doesn't try to get through the link fence but during the summer he does. So that has to be on the list.

As for Frankie's getting inside and outside, he does all that very nicely on his own. Very little lifting once he can see that it is sunny outside. When I do lift, getting him on the skateboard is so much easier.

February 14, 2008

Back to it

Frankie is feeling more like his old self again. His sluggishness has been replace with his old walk-all-over-the-gecko-room, poop everywhere and want-to-go-outside-I-insist old self. It is nice to see. I was contemplating taking him on a veterinarian appointment if I didn't see some regular behavior.

Greg has made him a new box - made of triple thick cardboard. It will take Frankie lots more time to dig through this. Until Greg gets it glued, Frankie is sleeping in a plastic container which I don't think he care much to do. It doesn't give him as much security or cover. I do cover him nightly with a big towel so he doesn't get any cool breezes.

Yesterday, I was mopping the gecko room floor. I would put the mop down to move some things around and twice turned back to find Frankie eating the mop. Of course, I stopped him before he got to get anything down -- but you got to wonder what was making him sick the last week - had to be something he ate!

February 10, 2008

Quality Outdoor Time

I took Frankie to the park yesterday. He just needed to be out and walking around. The park area I took him to has a large, new children's play area but I decided to go the opposite end and let him walk around in the soccer area. There are good amounts of weeds and dandelions. The city doesn't spray in the area (I asked and they said they can't afford to spray the parks for anything). We were out for about 45 minutes.

People did see Frankie and approached to find out more about this "big turtle". Word got around and eventually more people wandered our way to see what everyone was talking about. Frankie doesn't really care one way or the other if there are people around, he seems to have a mind of his own and only bothers if you get in his way.

Getting him out was important. He has been sluggish and not wanting to get outside. Hopefully, its just spring wearing out on him and he will be his usual self soon.

Today, he got a bath and then let loose in the back yard. He did wander a bit but then found a nice non-breezy area to settle down on. I have to keep going over to the area and pulling him into the sun. I don't mind him sitting around a bit, but he needs to bask in natural sunlight.

February 7, 2008

Where is spring

The last few days we have had changing weather from rain to cold to sunny to partly cloudy. But, even with all the changes, the temperature has been reasonable for any adult sulcata to spend SOME time outside. But I can hardly drag Frankie outside.

He is just fine inside, sitting in his nice and warm box, but if I drag him outside he wants back inside right away. Its all I can go to get him outside to graze and bask. Really, he has got to be hungry! But he would rather that his tummy rumble a bit rather than go outside. Frankie must be waiting for that 70 degree weather.

I guess I am waiting for it too. I think that all the box turtles are feeling the same. We are getting tired of being indoors. It is time for spring!

Happy Year of the Rat!

February 2, 2008


First, the skateboard.

For Frankie, it was a no brainer - he was a natural on the skateboard.

The board fit very nicely.

And he looks good on it!

February 1, 2008

Frankie on Wheels

Frankie got a surprise today - a skateboard. Greg has been encouraging me to look into getting Frankie a skateboard that we can use to get him around - this is because I keep hurting my back picking Frankie up. So, I went to Wal-Mart and found a kid's skateboard. It is short and fat which is just perfect for Frankie. In fact, he is just slightly small for it but certainly will grow into it quickly.

We set Frankie on the board and all four of his feet touch the ground and he can push himself around on the board. Of course, it will take time for him to use it properly -- not that this the primary reason for getting it. We intend to put a pull cord on the front of the board so I can pull it along when I need to move him.

I bought two type of straps to keep him safely on the board. We have tried both - one is a flat strap with clips and the other is the bungee type but the cord is flat. We will see which works best after some trials.

What is left to do - get photos, of course. Coming soon to the blog!