Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: April 2009



April 29, 2009

Bittersweet Spring

Late spring has arrived so it is that time of the year....Frankie is outside all the time instead of inside most of the time. Frankie outside instead of inside is bittersweet for many, many reasons.

Frankie poops and pees outside where tortoise poop and pee should be.
But I still have to scoop poop from his night shelter because he poops in it every morning.
But no more cleaning and moping inside one to three times daily.
I still get to compost the poop!

No more waking Frankie up every morning and singing him the "good morning Frankie" song.
(Yes I sing to my tortoise.)
Still it's wonderful watching him walk all over the yard all day enjoying the sun and grazing.
But I still have to walk the yard perimeter daily looking for "Frankie hazards."
But it's fun to have Frankie run up to meet me in the yard.
(Yes he is hoping for a carrot).

But we had to install security cameras to protect Frankie.
Still I can watch Frankie while I am on the computer.
Buying the security cameras did cost money.
But Frankie costs less to feed during the summer
I don't have to buy him hay since he can graze all summer.

Frankie's yard looks better than the front yard due to all the "Frankie compost."
Grass grows like crazy.
But I can't put in flowers or a garden.
Frankie eats anything I plant and grazes endlessly.
But I still have to mow even if Frankie grazes since he selectively eats certain areas.
But at least I don't have to landscape Frankie's yard.

I do miss spending time inside with Frankie.
But I don't miss him tearing up the gecko room.
And I do love walking around the yard with Frankie
We like to sit under the porch together.
And he likes it when I splash water over him in his pool.
Mostly I love that he loves his yard.

April 19, 2009

Creek Bank Festival

Frankie had a lovely time at his first social event of the year. On Saturday he put in an appearance at the Creek Bank Festival in Leeds, Alabama.

Frankie, Jane (friend and assistant) and I arrived just before the opening to avoid a long walk with Frankie to get into the festival. We parked just across the driveway so we only had to cross the parking lot. Of course, getting Frankie out of the car and across the parking lot is an event in itself: cars pull over, people gape, Frankie goes the wrong way...well everything as expected.

Frankie was excited as ever for "a big walk"Posted Image. There was a crowd around him at almost every moment. Being an expert at this I bring "The Frankie Survival Kit": a skateboard, hand-out sheets covering the top ten questions, a camera (Jane's), Handi-Wipes, and a bag of carrots. Frankie's needs were met.

What I forgot was a human survival kit: water, cash for food, sunscreen, hat and two spare human assistants so we could take breaks. There is no break from Frankie's endless walk. Posted Image

Really you would think that walking with a tortoise that has a pace of an older lady with a walker would be an easy task. But no.

There are endless course corrections (use foot), the picking of dandelions, the tossing of carrots, the lifting of children to pull them from harms way as Frankie stops for nothing, Frankie constantly stepping on my toes, answering the same 20 questions over and over, handing out fifty Frankie information sheets, constantly looking down, walking backwards so to keep an eye on Frankie, and the constant regret that there is no food or water for humans.

There was even a booth giving out free water but regretfully it was not in Frankie's path. At one point I spared Jane long enough for her to grab two samples of simply heavenly cinnamon bread.Posted Image It is entirely possible that the cinnamon bread was the worse ever in the entire world but to us humans it was much needed sustenance.

And Frankie trekked onward.

We did stop by the City of Leeds police booth -- or maybe I should say Frankie plowed through via a back table.Posted Image The four officers were delighted that Frankie stopped by until he decided to pee in the middle of their booth. Posted Image I could do nothing but apologize (he peed on the grass so there is no clean up), place a chair over the incriminating wet area Posted Image and get away before they realized how stinky tortoise pee is.

And there was the incident when Frankie headed straight for the performance stage. As cute as a 60 pound tortoise would be stealing the spot light from a talented young boy belting out his church song resume, I thought it best to steer Frankie clear. Best I could do was divert him into the crowd of spectators. He still upstaged the young singer but at least Frankie didn't plow him off the stage.

We made it twice around the festival before I came to the complete understanding that Frankie could do this all day but Jane and I was about to drop dead of exhaustion. A few more hundred course corrections and we make it to the car. We put the struggling 60 pound tortoise who wants to stay for another six hours into the car and drove home.

When we got to my house and put Frankie in the yard, Jane and I went straight for a couple of chairs and collapsed. We chatted for a while but what I remember most about those moments were how completely exhausted I was and how much I desperately needed a nap, some food and water. Posted Image

Keeping up with Frankie's social calendar is hard work!

April 6, 2009

Frankie's Secret Problem

I think Frankie has a problem ......with newspapers. An serious newspaper eating problem.

Frankie had his first taste of newspapers when he was an about five years old. He used to get old blankets put over him at night but the blankets were being torn up left and right. Still a substrate was needed that he could burrow under and sit on safely. So we turned to newspapers. Newspapers were crumpled and put in his indoor enclosure. With fifteen to twenty pages of rumbled newspaper Frankie had an idea substrate to dig under. Newspaper was free, and its easy to compost or trash.

Did this innocent act set Frankie on the downward spiral of newspaper addiction?

Sometime during a cool night Frankie must have chewed on a bit of the newspaper. Perhaps he was bored and gave it a bite. Maybe it was an accidental ingestion during on of those "big Frankie yawns." Or a bit of grass was mixed in with some of his newspaper and he ate it.

That "first" bite was the beginning of the end for Frankie.

The eating of newspapers seemed to started innocently enough with cartoons. He was naturally attracted to the color and amusing stories. Then Frankie casually turned to the classifieds. Now he has moved up to eating the daily news. Will Frankie hit "rock bottom" if he starts eating national newspapers like the New York Times?

Once Frankie starts eating newspaper he doesn't seem to be able to stop. Newspaper put in his enclosure mysteriously disappear by morning.

If he can't get newspaper from me will he start stalking the newspaper delivery guy? Will issues of the Leeds News start disappearing from the corner news stand?

I wish Frankie go "cold turkey." He has tried substitutes like paper towels. Thank goodness he has stayed away from toilet paper. But once addicted there is no suitable replacement for Frankie's newspapers.

It's a sad, sad day.

I've looked around for treatment options in my community but no one around here has anything for newspaper addictions. Maybe I should start a Newspaper Eater's Anonymous Group.

If your sulcata tortoise has a problem with newspapers, contact me. Maybe your sulcata and Frankie can help each other beat this thing.