Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: About Frankie



About Frankie

Ask Frankie and he will tell you that he is just a typical backyard tortoise.  Ask his owners, Leann and Greg Christenson and they will tell you Frankie is a 125 pound monster.  Ask Frankie’s fans and they will tell you that Frankie is an adventurer, a walking fool, a friend to autistic children, a bit of celebrity, a handsome fellow, and the subject of a popular Internet Blog, Frankie Tortoise Tails.

Frankie is an African Sulcata Tortoise, Geochelone sulcata, which are not native to the United States.  

Frankie was hatched "captive bred" in Oklahoma August 1st 2001.  That means that Frankie was not taken from the wild or removed from his natural habitat.  He was born in a hatchery that was owned by a herpetologist.

He was just a month old and the size of a tennis ball when Greg brought him home to Leann as a gift.  But don’t think Frankie was a surprise present:  Frankie was planned for over a year in advance. Greg and Leann did lots of research and evaluated their ability to care for a huge tortoise over the long term.  As they already kept many reptiles for many years, they already understood basic reptile husbandry.

The African Sulcata Tortoise doesn't make a good pet for everyone.  This land tortoise can grow to be over 120 pounds and has a fondness for digging 16 foot underground tunnels, knocking down fences and eating big plants.  A Sulcata tortoise owner must surrender a large back yard to these very active fellows as they cannot be kept indoors.

When Frankie was just five years old, Greg and Leann moved to Alabama.  They specifically looked for a house with an oversize yard just for Frankie.  They put in a heated outdoor enclosure for Frankie when temperatures drop below 50 degrees F.  If temperatures drop any lower, Frankie moves into the Christenson’s basement short term in an area prepared just for him.  They also installed security cameras to monitor Frankie and keep him safe.

Frankie attended Birmingham's Do Dah Pet Parade for five years:  his fans know the parade will swiftly pass him by but he walks on until the final pet, float or car signals the parade end.  He is a special guest at the yearly Walk for Autism in Birmingham, and now in Mobile.  And the list goes on:  ARF's Woofsock, Creek Bank Festival, the Leeds Downtown Folk Festival, pet costume contests…you get the idea.

When he is not participating in parades or festivals, he spends his days walking around his big yard and grazing his favorite grasses, hay, weeds and flowers.  Frankie is an herbivore with a diet similar to cows and horses.  His favorite snack is carrots and his favorite flower is dandelions. Sulcata tortoises should not be raised on produce or lettuce, and should never be fed fruit.

Frankie’s especially wants his fans to know that sulcata tortoises do not make good pets for everyone.  Four out of five sulcata tortoises will be turned over by their owners to Humane Societies, Turtle Rescues or abandoned because they got to be HUGE.

Be Frankie's fan on his Facebook page:

Frankie Tort Tails@frankietortails

Frankie Tortoise Tails are regularly featured at:
The Reptile Report
Tortoise Forum
Turtle Times
Turtle Rescue of Long Island's Yahoo Group
Sulcata Station's Yahoo Group

Frankie’s Website

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