Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: Frankie's First Hurricane



September 7, 2018

Frankie's First Hurricane

Made it through our first official Hurricane on the coast.  Well, we were visiting family in Oklahoma so technically we participated from afar. 

Frankie, on the other hand, made it through his first official Hurricane. 

From afar, guiding caretakers on how to secure the sulcata monster in a hurricane proved to be a challenge. 

Frankie, geckos and cat had a morning Care-Taker, a mid-take Checker, and a evening shift Care-Taker.  Everyone had specific tasks from petting cat, watering geckos, feeding box turtles, petting cat, and last but not least, taking care of the 17 year old, 115 pound sulcata tortoise once known as Frankie but currently going by the name of Monster, and petting cat.  

Of all the care instructions, Frankie's seemed simple:  Make sure he is in yard, keep water filled, and throw him a carrot every day.  Sounds very simple, right?

The day the Morning Care-Taker showed up for training she did the unthinkable:  she wore an orange shirt.  The minute she stepped out in yard Frankie pursued her like the Cookie Monster pursues cookies. 

Reviewing care instructions while she dodged Frankie at every step was challenging.  She absolutely got why one THROWS the carrot rather than attempting to hand feed Frankie the carrot. 

(Everyone wants to hand feed the sulcata tortoise.  He has no interest in eating human fingers but a finger between him and the carrot can result in one losing one's finger.)

All care takers were told:  THROW THE CARROT. 

The biggest challenge was making sure Frankie was in his shelter during the hurricane.  In his shelter is a sturdy wooden box that would keep him safe.  Get in the box, Frankie, just get in the box. 

Early on, Frankie was annoyed enough by the rain to go into his shelter.  As Mid-Hurricane approached the Care-Taker followed instructions and closed the main door and dropped the flap over Frankie's smaller door. 

Sometime after she left, Frankie decided it was too hot and muggy to stay inside and pushed through his door flap. 

When the next Care Taker returned later she found Frankie sitting outside in the rain just before dark and hours before the peak of the hurricane.  The situation became tense. 

Can one explain over the phone how to lift a 115 pound sulcata tortoise during a hurricane and get him back inside his shelter?  Ya' can't. Neither could I expect anyone to endanger themselves when they should be home securing their own families. 

Frankie had planted himself between the fence and the shed.  He would get rained on but he would not get flooded.  There were no dangerous trees that would fall on him.  He chose wisely although any choice to be outside in a hurricane I though was stupid. 

Greg and I changed plans.  We left Oklahoma six hours earlier than planned, eliminated an overnight hotel stop, and drove straight through. 

The Hurricane turned out to be on the lower end of bad. Thank goodness.

The Morning Care-Taker arrived to find Frankie still in the same spot.  He refused to move or un-tuck his head.  Any attempt to sooth or touch him resulted in an aggressive backward ram and hiss. 

It took a carrot to get him to pull his head from behind his legs.  (The orange shirt would be useful in this situation)

The Care Taker called us (we were now in Mississippi) to tell us he was alive but "very angry."  She also said the cat desperately needed us to get home.

We arrived late that evening.  First stop, after petting the cat, was backyard to check Frankie.  He was in his shelter, in his box but did not acknowledge me.  A poke to his front foot confirmed that he was very much alive. In the morning he was much the same:  un-moving and refusing to acknowledge me. 

Time for a Wellness Test.  A carrot dangling close to his nose and a teasing "wanna treat, Frankie?" drew his head out enough to see that he okay.  He consumed the carrot in less than 20 second confirming he was in good health.

Frankie emerged from his shelter a bit later and spent most of the morning camped out by the backdoor.  His plastic lawn chairs (secured during the storm) were returned to the porch and he moved them about until he was satisfied they were in their rightful place. 

All considering, we emerged from our first hurricane in good shape.  Frankie braved the storm. 

We did find something serious we overlooked.  Even if Frankie had decided he wanted back into his shelter later that night he could not have gotten inside.  The flap on his door allows for him to get out but does not reverse direction to let him back inside.  Something we have to fix. 

If we don't fix it Frankie Monster may just ram himself a new door. 

1 comment:

  1. I never thought about what to do with a sulcata during a hurricane. All of our guys are small enough that we can easily pick them up and move them to safety and we typically just have to worry about the occasional cold snap.