Soda's Tortoise Garden

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 Registered*)

dennistort.com

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 staff, operations
- Jenny my gf, social media and moral support
- 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

 


20-second 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 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 Three Eggs Eventually 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!


Social Media

Facebook

Soda's Tortoise Garden is on Facebook! Please like our page to get live updates on our breeding projects! Feel free to drop by and say hello

 


Instagram

More photos and videos on Instagram!



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, all with CBCs (Captive Bred Certificate).

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.

In collaboration with a fellow CWR permit holder, we are now able to breed Sulcata tortoises as well!

Radiated tortoise with Sulcata babies
Soda babysitting some of our locally produced baby Sulcatas in collaboration with other CWR holders

 

 


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. We had her from November 2002 to March 2009. 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 THIS WEBSITE

How This Website Started

I first 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


What We Offer

Breeding Collaboration

We are also open to joint projects and breeding collaborations with fellow CWR-holders. If you have adult tortoises that are also registered, feel free to message us on our Facebook page anytime. Our objective is to grow the tortoise community and encourage those who want to breed tortoises legally here in the Philippines.

Tortoise Figurines and Replicas

We have a few very high quality tortoise replicas available. These are such beautiful creations and I want all tortoise hobbyists to have at least one. Click HERE to see my collection and what's available.

Available Items

Occassionally, we have tortoise food supplies available. Please follow our Facebook page for live updates.


About The Author

radiated tortoises philippines
With our Radiated tortoise breeders

This hobby started when I bought one Indian Star tortoise on December of 1999 from a petshop near our place. By the end of January 2000, I had a total of 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!

I was not always successful with all of them and deaths do occur, sadly. But most tortoises made it through and they've been with us for several years now! I also tried to keep other reptiles like snakes and lizards but I always went back to focus on tortoises.

I was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. 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, we only prioritized on a few tortoises from our top 3 species. 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. Though I try to come home as often as possible, I do have to give credit to my mother and our great 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.

By the way, my other hobbies include playing badminton and tennis. Currently, I play in Power & Speed in Mindanao Avenue, Quezon City. If there are hobbysits out there who also play, feel free to message me on our Facebook page.

We also love to travel so please check out turtle and tortoise pictures that we take when when we're out traveling by clicking HERE.

radiated tortoise dennistort
Jenny and me with our adult tortoises, Soda, Cola, and Mocha

 

Radiated tortoise breeder
Holding a Radiata hatchling, pictured with our Radiata breeders


Sulcata tortoise growth
Mocha's growth over the years

 

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



 

 

*NOTE 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 Philippine communities of tortoise hobbyists. This claim has not been contested yet as of June 2017.

*NOTE 2: All tortoises are part of my DENR-CWR headcount which I first got during the amnesty for exotic pets several years ago. 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.

 

All photos property of dennistort.com (2009-2017)

Manila, Philippines philippineflag