Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: January 2014



January 27, 2014

King of the Cardboard

If I haven't said it once, I've said it a thousand times, sulcata tortoises don't belong in the house.  They are furniture-moving, wall-goring, floor-pooping, rug-peeing, shelf-toppling, bull-dozing menaces to interior human living spaces.  'sit's true.

Still Frankie is a regular visitor if not season snow bird and winter resident in my house....with all previous mentioned terrors that go with it.

I am a fan of Waffles the sulcata, our friend in the frozen North, and with every new photo I "awe" at the tiny Waffles' cuteness.  Concurrently there is this underlining horror as I image the 100 pound Frankie in the same photo.  Run, Mango! Run!

I love Frankie as deeply as a human can love an animal friend so I do the stupid again and again, anticipating catastrophes as best I can and accommodating Frankie as reasonable as possible in spaces he should not be.

We are masters of cardboard when Frankie comes indoors.
Frankie, King of the Cardboard
Cardboard is great.  It practically free and often arrives by UPS delivery.  One can even hang out at the recycling center to scout out special or extra larger boxes.  Yea, I've sat in the City of Mobile's recycling center parking lot skulking about until someone arrives with car full of boxes to recycle.

Frankie's dogloo is too big for our new gecko room so I had to come up with some new kind of box shelter for the 100 pound shell with bulldozer like feet.

Usually it's just a large box that Frankie can fit in head first.  Frankie's protruding backside gets covered with newspaper or an old beach towel.

A cardboard box can't be too narrow otherwise Frankie will rip it open when he does his morning turn around from face-in-the-box to face-out-of-the-box position.  I've looked and looked to find a box that is deep enough to get the whole of Frankie inside, snug enough so Frankie feels like he is deep in a cave, and yet wide enough so the morning turn around doesn't destroy yet again another box sending me back again to skulk about the recycling center.

Oh, I found this one box.  I got this warm fuzzy feeling when I saw it.  It was about four feet tall, a square 20 inches on each side.  I snatched the box up and ran for the car before the recycle clerk could get out the operation office's front door.

When I got home I cut it in half.  I then removed one side off the top half.  Testing my engineering theory, I slid the three sided top over the back half of the box.  Viola!  New Frankie Cave!

I put the new cardboard castle on top of a large anti-fatigue rug (to shield Frankie from the cold cement floor), stood back and admired my genius.

Later that day Frankie rambled in from outside, smearing poop on a rug and knocking a new dent in a door frame as he headed through the house toward the gecko room.  There was a moment of panic when I turned around and Frankie had disappeared as he decided to take the bathroom route into the gecko room rather than the front gecko room door.

Having recovered Frankie in the hall outside the bathroom I quickly pushed laundry baskets out of his way least he stop for shirt-stew with a side-of-socks.  I gingerly step over the slow moving Frankie and open the Jack and Jill Bathroom door leading into the gecko room.

Without hesitation Frankie heads into the waiting cardboard cave as if cardboard were a sulcata tortoises' natural habitat.  Nose in first, the only thing visible to the human eye is Frankie's awesome rear end (Eat your heart out, Waffles).

The second box is dropped over that cute sulcata butt and Frankie is all secure for another night in the gecko room.

This is the stuff I do for Frankie. If one owns a sulcata tortoise all this attention to cardboard boxes probably makes perfect sense.  People who don't own a sulcata tortoise or similar are probably thinking, "She is utterly mad."

Probably.  But again, allowing a 100 pound destruct-a-nator into a house inspires an evil, mad, genius to imagine great things of cardboard. 

Dedicated to Pong who disappeared from his home near Mariposa County, California.  His keeper, Farmer, misses his lost sulcata friend.  If you are out there, PonG, please find your way home.

Help in the search for PonG.  Please keep an eye on Craigslist, at turtle rescue groups and in pet shops.  If you see this sulcata, please contact me.  There is a reward.
Missing PonG

PonG Overhead

January 7, 2014

19º Disaster Plans

19º F.

I thought I was ready.

I have contingency plans, back-up plans, in-case plans, and complete mega-disaster plans just in case the electricity goes out.  It's critical when one has 100 geckos, a 100 pound sulcata Frankie and a cat.

Two human beings count as well but mostly as instruments to implement said emergency plans.

It was just after 7:00 am. Greg had left for work.  I just got out of the shower and put on clothes for the day.  I was pouring my second cup of coffee.  The electricity went out.

"Oh, _______!" (fill in your favorite expletive).

Maybe it's just a brown-out.  How long do those last? A minute? Two?

Three minutes later and I am into all out panic and adrenalin explosion.  My concern is the gecko room where said geckos and Frankie currently reside.

How long do I have?  Due to his large 100 pound body mass Frankie can safely last more than 30 minutes.  Geckos maybe have 15 minutes before not-so-healthy things start happening.  The cat?  Cat wants me to chase her around the house.  Go away cat.

So, about all those emergency plans.  Yeah, got lots of emergency plans for the other house in Birmingham, the one we just moved out of.  This is the new house. I have four reptile shipping heat packs.

Going on eight minutes with no electricity.

We got a generator.

Put on coat and shoes.  Run to back yard to outdoor storage room.  Fiddle with keys tying to find the right one to open the door.  Realize I should have worn gloves.  Maybe a hat for the wet hair.

Time is ticking.  If the electricity isn't back on in 20 minutes things are going to get bad quick.

Open door and see all the stuff stacked in front of the generator including a lawn mower.  Throw all of it out the door.  Pull generator out of storage room.  Check gas. No gas. Doesn't matter. Can siphon gas out of car.

(Yeah, right)

Its tires are flat so I drag generator and empty gas can around the house to the front yard.  Realize that I can't pull or lift generator up front steps.  Realize thinking up an alternative solution will cost me time.  Grip stomach muscles, catty-womp generator up step and onto the front porch.

Okay.  Generator on porch.  Gas station is 5 minutes away. Ten minutes and I'll be back with gas. Haven't operated the generator in two years and I have the memory of a flea but figure pure adrenalin will make me smart enough to get it started.

How long has it been since electricity went out?   Probably fifteen minutes.  I don't know.  I just keep moving.

Go back inside house for my purse.  Cat wants me to chase her around the house. Go away cat.  Wait.  Maybe throw cat into gecko room for her mammal generated warmth.  Can't catch cat.  Oh, well, probably wouldn't help anyway.

Maybe I should comb my wet hair before going to gas station.

As I jog through the living room toward the bathroom, house lights come on, heater kicks on, and cat appears from under chair.

I go into the gecko room and take notice of the complete non-disaster before me. The temperature has dropped below 69º F.  Some of the geckos have darken up indicating low body temperatures but Frankie's back leg is peaking out from under his blanket.  Heat will be picking up quickly in the room.

An extended back leg on a sulcata is a sure sign that temperatures are in the comfort range. Still, with temperatures expected to hoover around freezing, I don't expect to see any more of Frankie than that foot.

That's good.  I am not going to have time for Frankie today.  I will be spending a great deal of my time today making sure there are disaster plans.