What do turtles like to play with?

All animals need some kind of enrichment to help them live full and happy lives. While this could mean something very different for a cat or dog versus a turtle, enriching activities are an important part of pet well-being.

You might think there’s little you can do with pet turtles. After all, you can’t take him out for long trips or run him through agility courses like a dog. They don’t like to be cuddled like a cat. However, turtles love toys and other enrichment activities. They need to play! If you are a turtle owner looking to give your pet the best life possible, read on to learn more about toys and other techniques you can use to enrich your turtle’s life.


What is Enrichment?

red eared slider on water_Piqsels

Enrichment is a broad term used to describe how an animal’s life is made better. It can be done through toys, play, interaction, food, environment, and habitat. All pets have different abilities and needs, so it’s important to understand how best to enrich your pet’s life to keep them happy.

Why is Enrichment Important?

Giving your pet a variety of stimuli and activities keeps them from getting bored. Bored pets are often destructive or unhealthy pets. It is this enrichment that makes a pet’s life full and interesting.

Most pets get stressed or depressed when they are bored. This leads to greater health problems and an overall unhappy animal. We have pets because we love and care about them, so we need to make sure that we do everything we can to give them a full life.

For turtles, enrichment activities can include anything from toys to environmental changes. Without them, turtles are known to show signs of depression and illness. Lack of enrichment can also make your tortoise more susceptible to infection and injury.

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Turtles Love To Play With

There are many types of enrichment activities that your pet turtle will enjoy. It is best to mix your approach to turtle enrichment on a regular basis to prevent them from becoming bored. Turtle enrichment can include toys, environmental changes, food play, and interactions with you and other animals.


red eared slider_Sergey_m_Pixabay

Turtles love toys! There are many things that turtles love to play with. There aren’t many turtle-only toys out there, but you can use a lot of other things.

  • Shells – Tortoises like to play with empty shells. This is a great natural toy for chasing, flipping, and probing.

  • Raft – Your turtles will also like it if you put a small raft or other floating object in their tank. They can drown it or push it around the tank.

  • Children’s toys – Any brightly colored toy can make a fun turtle toy, as long as there are no loose parts. Your tortoise will love to push the toys and transfer them to the aquarium.

  • Rocks, sticks, plants – Tortoises are naturally curious, so any object you put in their tank will be something for them to investigate and play with.


red eared turtle_zoosnow, Pixabay

Your turtle’s environment is also a great way to enrich their daily lives. Turtles love to play with whatever you leave behind, so you can use their habitat as a center for enrichment.

  • Gravel and sand – Turtles love to dig. You should have an area in their tank to dig. Pebbles are a great way to entertain your tortoise. You can even bury food for them to dig up.

  • Plants – Live or plastic plants give your turtle a place to hide. They can easily be replaced for quick changes in the environment your curious tortoise will surely notice.

  • Rocks or caves – Like plants, different rocks or caves can give your turtle a place to hide and feel safe. They are also easy to rearrange for rapid habitat enhancement.

  • Decorations – Your turtle can see outside its aquarium, so changing the decorations around it will give the turtle something new to see. You can put a new plant outside the tank or hang a new poster on the wall behind it.

  • Outdoors – Some turtle owners like to take their tortoise outside for some time in the grass and sun. This is fine to do in warm weather, but make sure you keep an eye on them so they don’t escape!

  • See Also: What Do Turtles Do in Winter? Where do they go?


turtle eating fruit_Dimitris Vettikas_Pixabay

Food is a great source of turtle enrichment. You can do several things to make turtle feeding time more enjoyable, including:

  • Snacks – While most of your turtle’s diet should come from leafy greens and turtle pellets, they can also have snacks. Fruits, vegetables, mealworms, and dried shrimp are some of their favourites.

  • Live food – Your turtle can hunt small insects, tadpoles, shrimp and fish. The chase will keep them engaged and interested in what’s going on in the tank.

  • Treat toys – You can use a toy for a turtle, just as you might for a dog or cat. There are treats specifically for turtles, but they’re also great for small dogs or cats.

  • Bury food – You can bury treats in the gravel or sand of your turtle’s tank to dig up and eat. They love to dig, so this is a great way to keep them entertained.

  • Labyrinth – You can create a maze with a treat at the end for your turtle. Navigating the maze will keep them busy and they will love the reward at the end.

Human Interaction

red ear slider_Raymond Halim_Pixabay

Although most tortoises don’t like being held, they are happy to see you. When you take them out of the tank, you can make them follow you in a safe place. You can also wiggle your finger from outside the tank. They will try to catch your finger and follow it if you move it back and forth.

  • Also Read: Can Turtles See In The Dark? What you need to know!


Final Thoughts

While you might not think of turtles as fun creatures, they are fun creatures! Tortoises love toys and need lots of interesting activities to keep them happy and healthy. Try some of them out with your turtle and you will be rewarded with content pets.

Featured Image Credit: Piqsels