Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: June 2011



June 15, 2011

Hot In Tent City

I don't see Frankie much. He just isn't getting out these days. I am not getting out much these days either. It is just too hot outside.

Frankie just assumes to find a dark bush to hide under or just doesn't come out of his habitat at all.

From early in the morning to late in the afternoon, I sit up at my window, watching for him and worrying about the heat. Now and again I will check a nearby thermometer that reads the interior of his hut.

Frankie is perfectly happy in his shelter when those temperatures are in the 70's. When temperature head up into the 80's I have to watch carefully. At 89º F, I worry.

It's just June, and its hot and it's not supposed to be this hot yet. Two weeks of no rain and then predictions of 100º F heat. No fair! I don't have Frankie ready for that kind of heat. Usually I have the month of May and June before temperatures get Turtle-Toasting hot. But not this year.

This calls for quick thinking and quick fixes to keep Frankie and his shelter cool. I run to the store and get him a triangular shade to go over his enclosure to protect it from direct sunlight. Temperatures kept rising in his enclosure so one cover was not enough so I go back and get a second one.

I don't have knot tying skills. Did I skip that class in high school? I grew up in Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma so I don't have sailing skills. What is that one knot? Rabbit out the hole around the tree and down the hole again. Doesn't help.

The two triangular shades are pulled over Frankie's enclosure and up to the side of the porch. I use wooden clothes pins to secure the triangular cloths in place (I use clothes pins like guys use duct tape). Still, there is not enough shade.

I go back to the store and buy a super long pergola drape. I throw it over a rail on the porch and run both sides down over the two other shade cloths. I use clothes pins to secure everything in place.

I can't tie a knot but I am thinking I am a genius.

Day one of 100º F. The temperatures in Frankie's enclosure start creeping up...79, 85, 89...91..92. Awe, shells! These are dangerous ambient temperatures. I have no choice. It's "Baked Frankie" or bring him inside. And it's 100 degrees when I go outside to drag Frankie inside.

Why do I bother showering? The sun is like pins on my skin, and my clothes are wet as a sponge as I drag Frankie out of his 94º F house. He looks miserable. Join the club, Frankie. When I am done I am moving into the freezer.

Frankie get's the picture: "Inside" makes sense to him. He walks voluntarily through the gate, to the drive way and into the basement door. Frankie destination is NOT the gecko room, I am determined to keep Frankie in the garage.

You got to wonder what genius plan I have to keep Frankie from re-arranging the garage. No plan what so ever – this is all by the seat of my pants.

A big box in the corner of the garage filled with lawn mower part gives me an inspiration. Crash, bang, toss, place (me taking all the stuff outta the box). Yep, it fits over Frankie. The inspired plan has a hitch. Box over Frankie reminds him of past days as a Tank Driver. Frankie walks around with the box covering him. He commences to blindly walk into walls.

New idea: covered the one window in the garage with a dark green table cloth (using clothes pins). Frankie will think it is night, he will appreciate the cold basement floor, and he will nap. With the dark table cloth, the garage is pitch black.

The new genius idea has a hitch. I can't see. And Frankie is still walking around. I know because when he hits the car door there is a loud aluminum "boom"!

No, no, no, NO! But what can I do? Frankie takes a left from the car door, and runs into the wall the lawn mower parts I've dumped there. There is good news. Frankie stops right there. No motion.

Standing there, sweaty, sticky, sun stung, and thirsty, all I can think is, "Please, please, please, please!"

A minute or two tick by. My eye have adjusted to the dark. The Frankie Tank is all quiet.

"I need a nap." Upstairs I go. Lay on the couch. Fall asleep. I wake up and it's 4 o'clock. I can't remember when I first dragged Frankie inside the garage or exactly how long Frankie has been alone in the garage. Frankie could have rearranged the garage. Dash I go downstairs.

Frankie is still under his box (this is good) but he is now butting the door, box still over him (I am guessing his eye's adjusted too). He wants outside. Really happy that I didn't go upstairs and take a shower, I walk Frankie to the backyard.

To shower or not to shower? This is a serious question. I have more work to do on his shelter.

Three shade clothes were not enough. I will have to go back outside and put up another cover. Luckily, I have three more covers from last summer's efforts to shade Frankie: a blue tarp, a green and white tent top, and a plastic yellow umbrella cover. Hard to explain what these look like when I drape all over the patio and clipped together with clothes pins. I call it Frankie's Tent City.

You do what you have to keep the sulcata cool.