Soda's Tortoise Garden

radiated tortoise photos
HOME
tortoise care philippines
PHILIPPINE CARESHEET (Popular)
radiated tortoise photos
RADIATED BREEDERS
radiated tortoise breeding
CB RADIATED TORTOISE
star tortoise breeding
CB STAR TORTOISE
geochelone elegans photos
FIRST HATCH EVER 2006
sulcata tortoise photos
SULCATA BREEDING
tortoise philippines
AROUND THE WORLD

geochelone radiata photos
IN MEMORY OF WHITEY

tortoise figurines
Replicas
tortoise figurines
Food & Supplements
tortoise figurines
Tortoises
CB Philippines
facebook
MESSAGE US ON FACEBOOK
sodatort instagram
MORE PHOTOS ON INSTAGRAM
sodatort instagram
CLICK ON SUBSCRIBE


HOME OF THE FIRST

CAPTIVE-BRED RADIATED TORTOISES

IN THE PHILIPPINES*


Our goal is to continue our breeding projects and

to promote legal captive breeding in the Philippines


DENR Permit No.
WFP-NCR-2019-04




Meet Our Radiated Tortoise Breeders

What are Radiated tortoises?


The Radiated tortoise of Madagascar is one of the most attractive and most sought-after species of all tortoises. They are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN and listed on CITES Appendix I, mainly because of the destruction of their habitat and poaching. They can grow up to 16 inches in length and weigh up to 35 pounds. They are a very long-lived species with recorded lifespans of at least 188 years.

 

Radiated tortoise breeders with hatchlings
Our Radiated tortoise breeders, Soda and Cola and their first 2 hatchlings, Cali and Pepp with their eggs

Our Proven Breeders, Soda and Cola


Pictured below are photos of our male Radiated tortoise, "Soda". We've had him since he was only 4 inches. Now he's around 14 inches and more than 8 kilos. Of all the tortoises I've kept since 1999, Soda is the friendliest. He occassionally approaches his owners just to be petted. He will stand up high and stretch his head all the way out while being scratched. Nothing makes a tortoise owner happier than a tortoise that is healthy, friendly and active!

 


Below is our adult female Radiated tortoise, "Cola". She is a big girl measuring about 14 inches in length and weighing around 8.5 kilos. Despite her massive size, she is very gentle even with smaller juvenile tortoises. My vet described her as an old soul trapped in a tortoise's body. It was a perfect description!

Radiated tortoise laying eggs
Cola laying 3 eggs back in 2014. She's been laying 3-6 eggs every 2-4 months ever since.

 

Our Radiata adults only started to breed in 2013 despite being housed together for several years. When Cola laid her first clutch of eggs in December 2014, we were all thrilled! It was amazing how her instinct took over and she knew exactly what to do. The entire process of digging and laying took her about 4 hours then. Now she has improved this to about 3 hours. The nests are around 7 inches deep and has a narrow opening and a wide base. After popping out an egg, she moves them aside before laying the next one. She is an expert! Unfortunately, the eggs never seemed to hatch. Not until December 29, 2016 when we finally hatched our first! And so this brings us to the next section.


Radiata Breeding Project

We Finally Produced Our First Radiated Tortoise Hatchling! 12/29/2016


14 Years in the Making!


After working with this species since 2002, hard work and perseverance finally paid off! This is possibly the first captive bred Radiated tortoise in the Philippines, or at least the first one fully documented online.


Congrats to Soda and Cola! 3 years of mating and laying finally bore fruit. I was convinced that Soda is infertile. I am glad to be proven wrong! Sorry, Soda!


Congrats to the entire SODATORT team!


- Dennis, owner and overall lead
- Lourdes, my mom and her staff, for operations
- All those who became part of Soda's journey


*Also posted on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube
*DENR Registered

 

Radiated tortoise hatchling Philippines
I saw this in the morning of December 29, 2016. It was unexpected because I already concluded that all of the Radiata eggs are infertile. I just opened the incubator to check for Star tortoise eggs and I saw this!

 

Radiated tortoise hatchling Philippines

Radiated tortoise hatchling Philippines
Its yolk sac was almost fully absorbed

 

Radiated tortoise hatchling Philippines
With our first ever Radiata hatchling! Hoping for more baby Radiated tortoises this year and beyond

We named our first hatchling Cali, named after a popular local drink during the 90's. Most of our tortoises are named after drinks.


Here is a video of Cali's first steps:


 

FOR MORE PHOTOS AND INFORMATION, PLEASE CLICK HERE


Second Radiata Hatched Today!! 1/20/2017


I checked the incubator today and saw this one already out of its egg! Judging from its yolk sac, it probably hatched 2-3 days ago. Most times, I check daily. But when I don't, that's when they hatch!

 

Radiated Tortoise Hatchling

Radiated Tortoise Hatchlings
Our first and second hatchlings. Nearly 3 weeks apart.

Please click HERE for more photos of our second hatcling!



Time Lapse Video of Soda and Cola's Latest Batch of Babies! 5/15/2017


It usually takes 1-3 days for the tortoise hatchling to fully hatch out. But this time lapse video captures the entire process in 90 seconds, very interesting!



This batch of eggs is special because unlike the first, we were also able to capture photos of the entire process from chalking, developing veins, pipping and to fully hatching. You may view all the photos HERE.

Radiated tortoise breeding
This clutch was laid on January 2017 and started to hatch on May 12, 2017


Radiated tortoise hatchling size difference
Here is our third hatchling now at 5 days old! Beside him/her is Cali, our first Radiata hatchling at 5 months old

 

 


A time-lapse video of this beauty!

 

Star Tortoise Breeding Project

Introduction


The Indian Star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) is a beautiful tortoise native to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They were named for their star like patterns on their shells which varies by their three geographical variants or morphs: southern India, Sri Lanka, and northern India and Pakistan. This star pattern is actually a very efficient means of camouflage in their native environment.


Other species of tortoises that exhibit a star-like, radiating pattern are Burmese Star (Geochelone platynota), Radiated (Astrochelys radiata), Spider (Pyxis arachnoides), Flat-backed Spider (Pyxis planicauda), Pancake (Malacochersus tornieri), Geometric (Psammobates geometricus) and Tent tortoises (Psammobates tentorius).

Our First Captive-Bred Star Tortoise Hatchling


On April 16, 2006, we produced our very first and only IST hatchling. We named him Cracker. This was a very special moment with a lot of firsts. Bashful, our very first tortoise laid her first clutch of eggs which produced our first ever captive-bred tortoise!

star tortoise baby hatchling tortoise geochelone elegans

Please click HERE for more photos and videos of Cracker!


Unfortunately, we stopped breeding in 2007 when I left the country to work abroad. We had to prioritize on our top species and we had to part ways with our IST breeders. But this breeding initiative will continue in 2015, which leads us to the next section.

Fertile Star Tortoise Eggs as of October 2016!


We are once again breeding the Indian Star tortoise


Star tortoises, also known as Geochelone elegans are once again growing in popularity. They were our first tortoises back in 1999 and we were able to produce only one hatchling in 2006 before I worked abroad. The IST breeding project stopped in 2007. Now, we've also made it our goal to breed this beautiful species again. Star tortoises will always be one of our favorite tortoise species!

 

adult radiated tortoise compared to adult star tortoise
Pictured above is Cola beside one of my female Star tortoises. Both of them are already egg-laying adults. Notice the size difference between the two. Indian Stars usually reach an adult size of about 7.5 to 10 inches for females and around 5-6 inches for males. Radiated tortoises may reach up to 14 to 16 inches.

 

indian star tortoise breeding
Our female IST breeder laying 3 eggs in November 2015

 

Star tortoise breeding in Philippines
Here you can see the eggs are chalking, which are the white spots on top part of the eggs. The egg at the upper right of the photo is not chalking and this usually means the egg is not fertile.

 

Star tortoise breeder in the Philippines
Veins can be seen when doing the process called candling. It's basically just putting a small flashlight or LED penlight on the surface of the egg in a dark room. By doing so, you'll be able to see veins forming inside the egg if the eggs are fertile.


First Star Tortoise Hatchling For The Year!! 2/7/2017


After 145 Days


The first egg took 4 months and 23 days since our female IST breeder laid 4 eggs. It may sound like a long wait for some. But it is always exciting for me to watch tortoise eggs hatch! Definitely worth the wait!

 

tortoise egg pipping
Indian Star tortoise egg has started pipping, which is when they get their nose out of the egg shell. They use their "egg tooth" just right below their nose to pierce through the egg.


All 3 Eggs Hatched Within 1 Week! 2/15/2017


From Chalking to Hatching


This batch is a perfect example of tortoise egg development because it showed all the signs of a fertile egg; from chalking, to seeing veins when candling, and eventually hatching. As expected, all three eggs that chalked are fertile and the one that did not eventually went bad and started to smell after around 3 months.


This third one is even more special because 1 month prior to hatching, I noticed that the egg had already cracked and leaked. I had to seal it up but I wasn't sure if it would survive. I am so thankful that it did!

indian star tortoise egg
Three little Indian Star tortoise hatchlings

Click HERE for more photos and videos of our Star tortoise breeding project!

Sulcata Tortoise Breeding Project

Introduction


The African spurred tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata), also called the Sulcata tortoise, is a species of tortoise which inhabits the southern edge of the Sahara desert in northern Africa. They are probably the most commonly kept pet tortoises in the country. They can grow from cute 2-inch hatchlings to humongous 33-inch adults which make them the the 3rd largest species of tortoises in the world, next to Galapagos and Aldabra tortoises.


Our Sulcata Tortoise Stud


This is our adult male Sulcata tortoise which we named Mocha. We got him in 2007 along with three 2.5-inch baby Sulcatas from a DENR NCR WFP-holder. We didn't know he'd turn out to be a male. Looking back, we wish we didn't give him such a girly name.


Mocha started out the smallest but had the smoothest shell growth. After a year, he outgrew all other Sulcatas and still maintained his unpyramided shell which is difficult to achieve in Sulcatas kept in captivity. It's strange because all his housemates had slightly bumpy shells even if they had the same diet, environment, routine, etc.


Hopefully, we'll have Sulcata tortoise hatchlings for sale soon!

Sulcata tortoise growth
Mocha's growth over the years

 

 

Sulcata tortoises mating
Our Sulcata tortoise breeders, Mocha & Mochee

 

Radiated tortoise with Sulcata babies
Uncle Soda babysitting a few baby Sulcatas

In Memory of Whitey, 2002 to 2009

This Website is Dedicated to Our First Adult Female Radiated Tortoise


She had a white forehead, unlike most Radiatas. Thus the name, Whitey. I got her when I was still a student taking my undergrad degree. We had a lot of challenges together but we made it through. She was already 13 inches and ready to breed soon. She was a good pet and was used to having people around. Everytime I walked to her enclosure, she would approach me and make eye-contact. She loved to be petted and scratched on the head.

radiated tortoise philippines
This is the last photo that I took of Whitey


When she died, I thought my hopes of breeding this species died with her. But with the help and encouragement of family and friends, our passion to breed this wonderful species only grew stronger. Right now, I know that she is looking down on us from pet heaven and is proud of what we've accomplished.


I invite you to see memories with Whitey by clicking HERE

Taking Care of Tortoises in the Philippines

Tortoise Care Sheet

There are a lot of articles about tortoises in the internet but there's not a lot about tortoise care in the Philippines. Though turtles and tortoises are not very popular in the Philippines, the hobby has actually been picking up the past several years. There are also more Philippine forums and groups via Facebook these days so it's easier to exchange information now.


To those who are just starting, I came up with a quick list of FAQ's with a lot of photos. The answers are more directed to Philippine tortoise hobbyists. I hope it helps.

ABOUT SODA'S TORTOISE GARDEN

How This Website Started

At first, I created this site on March 2009 using webs.com, a free website builder. As my interest in making websites grew, I started to study Dreamweaver, make my own website, purchase a domain, and sign up for my own web hosting provider. It was a perfect channel for me to share pictures of my tortoises that I have all mixed up in my hard disk since 1999. With this website, I can give an overview of myself and my tortoises, and share photos, videos, stories, information and experiences to my fellow tortoise hobbyists. Over the years, this website has evolved from a photoblog (dennistort.com) into a website for Soda's Tortoise Garden (sodatort.com).


What is Soda's Tortoise Garden

Soda's Tortoise Garden is a privately owned tortoise facility that is accredited by the Bureau of Animal Industry and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-NCR) located in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines.

Claiming my WFP from DENR-NCR
Claiming the Wildlife Farm Permit from DENR-NCR, Metro Manila, Philippines. (2019)

Our small, humble tortoise garden is the home of Soda, our eldest tortoise, and his forever partner Cola, our egg-laying female Radiata. Soda and Cola are parents of the first fully documented Radiated tortoise hatchlings in the country. The Radiated tortoise is a CITES Appendix 1 critically endangered species and is a favorite among high-end tortoise collectors and hobbyists.

Our Story

red eared slider
Like most tortoise hobbyists in the Philippines, I started with a red-eared turtle back when I was in Grade 1 which I got as a gift from my cousin in 1988. This photo was taken in 1991.

 

The journey of Soda's Tortoise Garden started as a simple hobby when I got two Indian Star tortoises on December of 1999 from a petshop nearby. I was so excited about them that by the end of January 2000, I had 7 ISTs. I was then just starting my Engineering degree and had only little resources. But I was determined to have more tortoises and so I saved up as much as I could. After selling some of my old collections, the Stars were soon followed by Elongatas and Sulcatas. As soon as I passed my ECE board exams and got a job, I took my hobby up a notch by getting Redfoots and Leopards, Radiateds and more!

 

Dennis with First Tortoises
Back in 1999 with my first two tortoises. I was wearing a traditional formal wear called Barong Tagalog.


In 2004, I was lucky to be able to register our tortoises during the amnesty for exotic pets at DENR-NCR, thanks to my father who saw the announcement in the newspaper. I then became a CWR-holder, which means that we can keep the tortoises legally.

2006 was my first major milestone as I was able to hatch my very first captive-bred baby, an Indian Star Tortoise. This inspired me so much that my passion for these lovely shelled creatures grew even more.

radiated tortoises philippines
With Soda and Cola, our Radiated tortoise breeders. (2012)

I worked abroad from 2007-2011 after working in Manila from 2005-2007. I then moved to the US from 2011-2013 to take my master's in Business and Technology Management. During these times that I was away, I had to lock down on a strict tortoise routine built around a solid set-up and teach our family members and household staff thoroughly. Although I came home as often as possible, I have to give credit to my mother and staff for taking great care of our tortoises!

I've been back here in the Philippines since 2013 and the hobby has picked up a lot since then.

In 2016, we were able to hatch our first Radiated tortoise and we were thrilled even more! Watching them hatch, thrive, eat, walk, grow and breed never gets old. We always want them to be happy and healthy.

Mission and Vision

Our mission is to spread the passion that we have for tortoises. We hope that our story will continue to inspire people to take care of tortoises and encourage hobbyists to become breeders as well. If we all engage in legal captive breeding, then maybe we can have a positive impact on the conservation of various species in our own little way.

Selling is not our main objective. We may have a few tortoises available but that won't happen very often. We are not a large scale facility and we only produce a few babies. So please bear with us when we don't have anything available. But when we do, be sure to follow our Facebook page for updates. We may occasionally have food and tortoise supplies as well.

Thanks for reading this far. We are hoping for your support as we try to spread our passion for tortoises, to continue to inspire and educate, as well as promote legal captive breeding.

Aldabra Tortoise Statue
This was taken in Toronto Zoo when we visited Canada all the way from the Philippines back in 1992. I was riding an Aldabra tortoise statue.

Warnings and Disclaimers


1) Soda's Tortoise Garden is possibly the first to breed Radiated tortoises in the Philippines, definitely the first one to do so with complete online documentation of photos and videos uploaded via webpages, social media and video sharing platforms. Since starting the hobby in 1999, I've always asked around if there are any successful breeders of Radiated tortoises in the country because I wanted to learn more. But I never found anyone. This is also the same feedback that I got from various Philippine communities of tortoise hobbyists. This claim has not been contested yet as of this site's latest edit.


2) All tortoises are part of my DENR-WFP headcount. This headcount gets updated everytime tortoises are bred from the original registered animals and also when new specimens are legally obtained from DENR CWR, WFP and WCP holders. Great efforts are being done to breed them and contribute to the conservation of critically endangered tortoise species.


3) I've already received several reports about scammers stealing and using our photos. Always be careful when buying online.

 

All photos property of Soda's Tortoise Garden (2009-2019)