Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: Therapy Dig



July 8, 2016

Therapy Dig

Fear not, Frankie and I still exist.  I'm visiting one of my Deep Depressions which occasionally stops by like an unwanted guest.  I'm pretty good at surviving them.  This depression is no charmer but it's not a record breaker:  The worse lasted two years.

I've developed a sense of humor about withdrawing into a hermit like existence.  There is the bonus weigh loss that occurs due to the absolute disinterest in food, and trimming outside activities so to concentrate on remembering to bathe, brush my teeth, and feed Greg and the cats.

[No worries.  Got a doctor who loves throwing prescriptions at me. Sorry doc, already tried that pill. Yep, tried that one too. I can do Hermit but don't wanna be a Zombie.  Can we just keep it simple?  I've been doing this since I was sixteen, You weren't even born yet.]

Frankie showed up in my life at the end of that long two year record depression and he continues to challenge my keen ability to remain un-moving indoors doing absolutely nothing but wondering what day it is.  

He showed up on the porch the other day covered with dirt.  

Nothing spells trouble like a dirt covered sulcata shell.

 I know that sulcata tortoises dig.  Digging is part of who they are.  Digging long tunnels down underground sometimes eight to fourteen feet long is instinct.  Where else do you think a sulcata tortoise would live?  

Attempting to beat an animal's natural instinct is probably mankind's most arrogant trait. Long before Frankie moved into out lives, Greg and I have schemed and devised ways to keep our sulcata from digging. We've really, really tried.  Hence our elaborate Frankie Caves over 14 years.  

Real Important Point:  If a sulcata tortoise has a place to sleep where he feels secure and comfortable, he probably will not dig.  Key words there are secure and comfortable.

Check posts about Frankie's houses and you'll find we've been very successful proving Frankie with such places.  Mostly.  Until it gets hot.

Frankie showing up at the back door covered with dirt means he is digging to find a cool spot.  The hair on my neck stands on end and even though I am in a air conditioned room I break into a sweat.  I head outside urgent to find what Frankie's been into.

Right off I see the wood pallet set by the fence corner toss over like some kid has kicked over a stack of wooden building blocks.  Yep, Frankie started digging here.  Good news: He got stopped by the pieces of cement I put into the hole he tried to dig last summer.  Bad news is he moved on from here to find a better dig for The Spot.

Frankie has caught up with me, brushing against my leg.  I look down at him a bit annoyed.  He looks up at me like "You ain't seen nothing yet."

Farther on between the shed and the fence I find the area where I plant clover has now been all dug up.  But this isn't The Spot.  Frankie just test dug out all the clover.  So I proceed along the fence hunting for The Spot.  

Nothing for the entire length of the yard until I get to the fence by the house. I stood in silent wonderment at the carnage.  This spot wasn't just digging.  This is more wrecking and destruction.

I spent last fall excavating this particular area putting down bricks and wood all around a awkwardly placed railroad tie.  Frankie refuses to walk around this cumbersome object around but instead insist on walking over it.  He struggles to crawls over from below and in the reverse direction slides off with a PLOP to the ground.  I carefully landscaped bricks and wood to force Frankie to walk around the railroad tie.  

He dug all that up. Bricks and wood are scattered all around the immobile railroad tie.  Not sure what I am going to do about this mess.

Frankie catches up with me again.  I look down at him annoyed.  He looks up at me, proudly, "Huh? Whadda think?  Good job, huh?"

Still, this is not The Spot we are looking for.

There by the house, in a nook of the house it the Big Dig.  Frankie has dug a dirt pit to keep cool. It's not a tunnel.  It's just a place to dig into the cool dirt.

If it was a tunnel he would be digging under our house.

Good news:  no tunnel under the fence and into Greater Mobile.  

Still, I am going to have to keep a very close eye on this corner.  The Spot is "comfort" which the greenhouse can't provide.  Frankie gets to keep his hole.  A shade cloth is placed over The Spot to increase Frankie's feeling of comfort and security.  I'll go out daily and hose it down with water. It will be a mud hole. Frankie will like that.

That rascal, Frankie.  He got me out of the house.  I'm doing a little yard work.  Now I am writing.  

Frankie is better than drugs.


  1. "I can do Hermit but don't wanna be a Zombie." LOL

    I am glad you have Frankie now as a companion to help with your depression :-)

    - John A.

  2. Glad to hear from you. Missed your comments on turtletimes. Frankie is just digging where he saw you did with the bricks and clover. He's just being a good boy!!!

    I do think you need an ac unit for his greenhouse. Wow! Then just think how he can brag to the turtle world about his climate-controlled "digs"!

    Best wishes,