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



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 100ยบ 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.