Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: March 2013



March 21, 2013



What are you waking me up for?  I don't want to wake up.  Ten o'clock is too early to wake up.

If you want me up then you're gonna have to pull me out of my newspaper.

Fine.  See if I care if you take away my newspaper.  You're mean!

No I don't want to go outside.  You can't make me go outside.  I am gonna sit right here all day long and not move....except to poop.  Then I will sit here on my poop all day because you made me get up.

I'm not gonna walk outside.  I am happy to sit here inside the gecko room until summer get's here.

No way are you talking me into leaving the gecko room.  You go right ahead and cluck and whistle and offer carrots. I am not going outside.

Go ahead and push me outside cause I am not walking on my own.

Good luck putting me on that cart. It will be the last time you ever lift anything over 10 pounds.  Your gonna be set up in bed for a week.

Oh, right, drag me outside.  I'm gonna tell everyone how mean you are.  You are so cruel.  There is just no reason to drag me outside when I am perfectly happy inside.

Fine.  I'll sit here in the sun but I am not going into the back yard.  This is as far as I go.  I don't need to go in the backyard.  You can't make me go.

Oh, right, get dad to trick me into walking into the backyard.  Unfair to bring outsiders into this situation.

Lock the gate behind me!  You're gonna have to because if you left it open I would just turn around and come back inside.

I am going inside.  As soon as the gate opens.

Fine! I'm going over here by the fence and wait for that gate to open.

What? It's time for bed?  But I need my sun time. Can't I just sit out here for a few more minutes.  What if I just sleep out here.  It's so nice.

Hey! It's cold out here!  Someone let me inside right now!

March 19, 2013

To The Ends of the Earth

My hands are rough as sandpaper.  I could wash dirty pots and pans without using a scrub brush.  If Rhett Butler kissed my hand he would know I am not an upper class luncheon lady who can name three proper brands for high tea.  My hands are so rough I could use them to exfoliate.


In the front yard is a very generous flower garden.  It backs up to the house with one open side.  We never use chemicals or insecticide so it's perfect for Momma Turtle, Big Turtle and Brown eyes, my three box turtles, to have time in the sun.  Even Frankie (50 pounds ago) has enjoyed a turn around the garden.  I have thus called it the turtle garden for years.

With my bare hands I cleaned out leaves and debris, dug up weeds, and turned the soil of the Turtle Garden rather urgently.  Then I went to the front of the house and pulled out five years worth of accumulated leaves that had gathered around all the azalea bushes.  For good measure I also dug up the soil around the bushes and while I was at it from the foundation in front of the house.  

Still full of panic and energy, I went to Frankie's winter basking area by the garage and dug up the vegetable garden.  Yea, Frankie was watching.

I finely stopped long enough to call Greta, my turtle friend, to see if she would like to help dig up my yard.  What a great friend.  She showed up and re-dug all the areas that I dug up.

While we were at it we decided to dig up both my neighbor's front flower beds...and perimeter of their house, and fences.

We finely surrender our desperate activities right before five o'clock because we both have families to feed.  And it was getting dark.

So why did we clean out the neighbor's flower beds and all of my flower beds with our bare hands?

Because Brown Eyes went missing from the front Turtle Garden.

Box turtles are good at several things:  hiding, digging, climbing and hiding.  No way to accurately predict if Brown Eyes dug deep in the flower bed, or climbed out of the Turtle garden and walked to a neighbors' yard and then dug under. Frankie is a good hider.  Box turtles are better.  So we dug.

Gretta and I have been digging for five days now.  At least we started using garden spades, gloves and galoshes.

So what is the point of this story?  Will it have a good outcome?  Will it have a sad outcome?

I've taken every bit of turtle knowledge learned over fifteen years and done everything I can to find Brown Eyes.  I've dug barehanded not caring that my nails and hands are being brutalized by the Alabama clay dirt.   I've abused this bumbling body of mine by crawling (literally) under bushes, lifting heavy objects, creeping on hands and knees, leaning over bushes, and skulking about in the rain.  Make lost posters. Talk to neighbors.  Wake up at 3:00 a.m.  Cry.

That's what turtle owners do:  Everything.

There is no peace until the missing is found or, if not found, everything possible is tried to bring them back.

Turtle Garden with all three girls in sight.

March 1, 2013

The Frankie Axiom

If you’re a huge fan of algebra, probability and math then you’ve come across the term “dependent events.”  Fascinating stuff.   No?  James Bond  knows all about this stuff which is why he is a first rate poker player.

Really!  Get on the internet and look it up.  Cool stuff.

So what does math have to do with Frankie?   Frankie has created dependent events just being in the gecko room.

For example, I have a routine in the gecko room.  I have geckos therefore I clean gecko enclosures: It’s 100% gotta do and no probability to it.

Toss one 85 pound sulcata tortoise into the gecko room and it’s a mess of probabilities, independent and dependent events, cause and effect, and a touch of chaos.

This morning I went into the gecko room to begin chores.  Frankie is sleeping under a pile of crumpled newspapers.  Right off the bat I have to deal with probabilities:  Frankie can continue to sleep or Frankie will wake up. 

Greatly desiring that Frankie will sleep a little longer I turn his heat pad on a low setting.  Frankie-cold means more sleep results in more gecko chores completed.  Still, I am putting off the inevitable event of Frankie waking up. 

First thing I gotta do is feed the box turtles.  If Frankie is awake for feed-box-turtle event then the probability of Frankie peeing on the floor increases dramatically.  I grab supplements and food and immediately start feeding the girls.

The lower heat was worth about 20 minutes.  I am not yet finished feeding the girls when Frankie pulls up beside me (I am sitting on the floor) to see if his ladies are around.  Frankie catches sight of Mama Turtle.  Frankie pees. 

It’s a chain of events that results in the gecko room getting mopped today.  Today is not floor mopping day.  Frankie seeing box turtle changed the outcome.

Frankie doesn’t get fed every day during winter however the probability he will be fed is directly related to the amount of newspaper he will consume to get the point across to me that today, indeed, is a day Frankie will be fed.  It’s called Conditional Probability. 

Frankie getting fed creates another curious dependent event. 

I head outside to pick grass and weeds from the yard.  I get ½ a bag because it’s all the time I want to be away from Frankie who is eating newspaper.  I get back.  First I pull newspaper outta Frankie’s mouth so he can eat the greens.  Frankie happily turns his attention to his pile of green grass and weeds.

Curiously, Frankie enjoying his pile of grass and weeds may or may not cause Newt the cat to throw up.

Newt sees the pile of grass and weeds being eaten by Frankie.  Will Newt ignore Frankie’s feast or will Newt spontaneously join in?  Newt joins Frankie as a dinner guest.

Frankie doesn’t seem to mind that Newt is eating pieces of his grass.  Contrarily, Frankie seems to enjoy the company.  Newt and Frankie stare at each other all the while they munch away.

Then, already predicted as probable, Newt promptly up-chucks the freshly eaten grass right there next to the pile of greens. 

Then it happened:  A dependent event that could only occur following low-heat, turtle induced floor pee, newspaper eating, green feast, a dinner guest, and cat regurgitation.    

You already know it. 

Frankie eats the cat’s regurgitated grass.

Math confirms what we already know:  Frankie can’t let a single blade of green grass go uneaten.