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



October 30, 2009

Sins of the Mother

I am so in the "dog" house…sort of to say. I have failed Frankie in the biggest of ways, and I don't know if I can make up for this one.

Last Saturday was Petco's Pet Costume Contest and last Tuesday was the a pet costume contest at our area Petsmart. Frankie and I have spent two months getting ready for these events. I spent all of September making Frankie's fantastic Frankasaurus costume. He put up with being paper mache to make a model for his shell and endured several fittings to get everything just right. With hours invested into one super costume, I think Frankie was looking forward to entering those pet costume contest.

In pervious years he placed in every contest he entered so he got several gift cards from Petco and Petsmart from $5 to $10 each. Then he won the AARP pet costume contest and the You Pet Costume contest. All in all, he brought in about $200 in gift cards. The winning went straight to Frankie's head, not necessarily because of the notoriety but because of the gift cards: Frankie became a shopaholic.

Every time we would take Frankie to Petsmart or Petco for a walk he would pick out various items to buy with "his" gift cards. He bought cuttlebone, orchid hay, a yellow ball, some turtle treats, and he even bought a big water dish for his friend, Rose the Water Dragon, and bought cat food for our cats. Frankie was not a miser with his "gift cards", he shared his bounty, but he really got into the shopping.

Putting up with the new costume was worth it because Frankie was looking to more gift cards from the pet costume contest. Everyone who saw his Frankasaurus costume said he was a sure win.

Except mom forgot. Oh yes, I forget the PetSmart costume contest on Saturday and forgot the pet costume contest on Tuesday. I forgot both! Zip! They just passed me by like it was April.

Frankie seems to have a very little grasp on the concept of time other than days are longer in summer and it's hot and days are shorter in winter and it's cold. But somehow I think he knows I've missed the costume contests.

Can he forget being paraded around in a costume and being fussed over by hordes of people and strange animals dressed in people clothes? No, I think those kind of things Frankie remembers.

The other reason I think he know I forgot is he did some remarkable rearranging of the gecko room on Wednesday (the day after the missed costume contest). He moved chairs, containers, boxes, garbage cans, his feeder box, the box turtle container and all his hay and grass all over the gecko room. There was grass and hay all the way across on the other side of the gecko room. Some one (or in this case, some tortoise) had to drag all that hay across the room and stuff it under the gecko shelf. I didn't do it.

I am not sure what I can do to make this one up. I am thinking of taking Frankie in his Frankasaurus costume to Petco on Halloween and let him pick out some cuttlebone. I just know that I had better do something because I don't know if my gecko room can survive another Frankasaurus rearrangement.

October 16, 2009

Help Frankie, I mean Frankasaurus Win!

It's that spooky time of the year when everyone is thinking what costumes to dress their kids and pets. Of course, this includes Frankie. This year I went all out and spent months to make this years costume: Frankie the Frankasaurus!

He is entered in PetSmart's 2009 Online Halloween Pet Contest. And he needs your help. Once again, the tortoise has to beat the hare. So I am asking all of Frankie's friends to get to PetSmart's website and give Frankie....I mean Frankasaurus 5 stars! Go Now!

Go to petsmart dot com and look for their Halloween Online Costume Contest. Frankasaurus is listed under "Other Pets" because he is not a cat or dog...duh, he is a dinosaur.

Don't forget, give him 5 stars above his photo. Okay? Let Frankie know how much you love his costume.

BTY:  This is Frankie's previous costume:

October 6, 2009


On Sunday, due to the colder weather and overcast skies, I put a ceramic overhead heater in Frankie's enclosure. When Greg insulated his enclosure this last summer, he set it up just so I could put in the ceramic heater. Still, I was nervous. It could get too hot and scald his top shell, cause a fire or, even do its job and keep him warm when it gets cold outside. I just couldn't take any chances.

When I installed the ceramic heater, I made sure that the "S" hooks were pinched so that the heater could not accidentally fall from the top. I set the thermostat to 70º F so if the temperature got any higher the heater would turn off. I went back inside and set a timer for 15 minutes.

Fifteen minutes later I go outside and open the enclosure. The heater has not fallen. There is heat radiating. The top of Frankie's shell is warm. Hmm, maybe i should turn the temperature to 75ºF. I do. I go back inside and turn the timer to 20 minutes.

Twenty minutes later I go outside and open the enclosure. Frankie gazes up to me puzzled by all the attention. His shell is a bit more warmer. I am feeling a bit more brave. I turn the temperature to 80ºF. Close the enclosure, go back inside. Set the timer for 30 minutes.

Thirty minutes later I go back outside. I open the enclosure. Frankie gives me another puzzled look. I check his back. Nice and warm. Things are working well. I go back inside.

Through out the day, I check hourly to see that the system is working. Frankie starts giving me annoyed looks.

At 4:00 pm, Frankie's normal bedtime, I go outside and check again. Frankie has shifted position to his "head-in-the-corner-time-to-sleep" position. With some difficulty he cranks his head around to see who is bothering him this time. "What NOW?" Frankie looks my way. I close the enclosure and go back inside.

At 6:00 pm, it's getting dark so I go out to see if the enclosure is holding heat. I open the top. Frankie ignores me this time. Things are fine. I close the top and return inside.

At 8:00 pm, it's completely dark outside, and I have to check one more time. I go outside and open the enclosure. Frankie gives me a dirty look. I move the hay around so that it sits against the front door to keep drafts from getting in. I close the enclosure and go back inside.

At 9:45 pm I am still worried about the heating system, safety, and if Frankie is comfortable. I go outside. I open the top. This time Frankie gives the old "startled" jolt and bumps into the side of his enclosure which tells me he was deep into dreaming and I have rudely waken him up. I have probably **** him off. This time he gives me an unmistakeably look of annoyance. "What can I say, I am worried." I am not sure Frankie believes me.

Okay, I didn't check again all night. But I was up at 6:45 am and headed outside in my pajamas to see how the night went. I open the top. It's nice and warm. Frankie slowly opens his sleepy eyes, "Oh, it's you. Again. Of course. Go away." I close the top. I return to go make coffee and eat some breakfast.

Yep, I will be out again later to make sure everything is okay. It's what sulcata owner's do.

October 4, 2009

Big Fall

Fall is pushing forward in Frankie's yard. Already the bushes and trees are beginning to thin out and some leaves have already started to turn yellow and fall. It's easy to track Frankie during this time of year, not necessarily because it's easier to see through his tree and bush area, but because he crunches when he walks across the fallen leaves.

The sun is adjusting its angle in the backyard. No longer does it shine all day on Frankie's outdoor enclosure so I was able to remove the emprovised awning I hung over it to keep the sun from warming it up. With the awning gone (it really a plastic table cloth) the sun can warm up the enclosure first thing in the morning.

But again, Greg put so much insulation in the enclosure that the sun hardly makes a heat contribution. So it was time to put his heat pad outside. The pad is hung on the side of the enclosure against the cement wall board that absorbs the heat. Inside it's pretty cozy in the fall.

Frankie is getting big for the enclosure. He can't scoot around easily. But he is snug. I have hay in there for him to cozy into. He likes that.

He is turning in about 4:00 pm each night. I check on him before its dark to make sure he is in and then I check back before I turn in so I can be sure the heater is on and his door flaps are not letting in all the cold air. I don't see him again until 10:00 am. Rough life.

During the day, Frankie spends his entire day outside in the sun basking and chowing down. He gets in some walk time, well quite a lot of walk time. What is very different this time of year as compared to the hot summer is Frankie does not have to spend any time under the porch to stay cool.

All the poop is in the yard. No more scooping poop from under the porch. But there is still poop in his enclosure. I have not been completely relieved of "dooty".

Regretfully, it was all rain and overcast today so Frankie spent the entire day in his enclosure. That's a bummer for him. I didn't bring him any food. Now if tomorrow is the same overcast rainy day I will have to bring him some grass clippings. Don't want him to get too hungry. Hunger makes him grumpy. Not a good thing to have a grumpy 65 pound bulldozer.

But all of this is a reminder that Frankie is fast outgrowing his outdoor enclosure and Greg better get it in gear and start designing and building a new one. If Greg doesn't, Frankie will be inside all winter again. At 65 pounds, this is a bit troublesome. Think 65 pound bulldozer.

See, not all blog entries are filled with hilarious Frankie adventures. Sometimes he is just an ordinary back yard tortoises with fall housing issues.