What Do Turtles Like to Play With?


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

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

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What Is Enrichment?

red eared slider in water_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

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

Why Is Enrichment Important?

Providing your pets with different stimuli and activities keeps them from getting bored. A bored pet is often a destructive or unhealthy pet. Enrichment is what makes a pet’s life full and interesting.

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

For turtles, enrichment activities can include a wide range of things from toys to environmental changes. Without them, turtles have been known to demonstrate signs of depression and illness. Lack of enrichment can also leave your turtle more susceptible to infection and injury.

What Turtles Like to Play With

There are many types of enrichment activities your pet turtle will enjoy. It is best to mix up your approach to turtle enrichment regularly to prevent them from becoming bored. Turtle enrichment can include toys, environmental changes, food games, and interaction with you and other animals.

Toys

red eared slider_Sergey_m_Pixabay
Image Credit: Sergey_m, Pixabay

Turtles love toys! There are many things turtles enjoy playing with. There aren’t many turtle-specific toys out there, but you can use many other objects.

  • Shells – Turtles love playing with empty shells. These are great natural toys for chasing, flipping, and investigating.
  • Rafts – Your turtle will also love it if you put a small raft or other floating objects in their tank. They can sink them or push them around the tank.
  • Small kid toys – Any brightly colored kid’s toy can be a fun turtle toy, as long as there aren’t any parts that can come off easily. Your turtle will enjoy pushing the toys around and moving them about the tank.
  • Rocks, sticks, plants – Turtles are naturally curious, so any objects you include in their tank will become something for them to investigate and play with.

Environment

red eared turtles_zoosnow, Pixabay
Image Credit: zoosnow, Pixabay

Your turtle’s environment is also a great way to enrich their day-to-day lives. Turtles like to play with whatever you leave around, so you can use their habitat as an enrichment center.

  • Gravel and sand – Turtles love digging. You should have an area in their tank for them to dig. Gravel is a great way to keep your turtle entertained. You can even bury a treat for them to dig up.
  • Plants – Live or plastic plants give your turtle a place to hide. They can be easily changed out for a quick switch in the environment that is sure to be noticed by your curious turtle.
  • 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 a quick habitat upgrade.
  • Decorations – Your turtle can see outside their tank, so changing up the decor around it will give your turtles something new to see. You can put new plants outside their tank or hang a new poster on the wall behind it.
  • Outside – Some turtle owners like to take their turtles outside for some time in the grass and sun. This is perfectly fine to do in warm weather, but make sure you keep an eye on them so they don’t escape!

Food

turtle eating fruits_Dimitris Vetsikas_Pixabay
Image Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay

Food is another great source of turtle enrichment. You can do several things to make feeding time more fun for your turtles, including:

  • Treats – While most of your turtle’s diet should come from leafy greens and turtle pellets, they can also have treats. Fruits, vegetables, mealworms, and dried shrimp are some of their favorites.
  • Live food – Your turtle can hunt small insects, tadpoles, shrimp, and fish. The pursuit will keep them engaged and interested in what’s going on in the tank.
  • Treat toys – You can use treat toys for turtles, just like you might do for a dog or cat. There are turtle-specific treat toys, but they will also be just fine with a small dog or cat treat ball.
  • Burying food – You can bury treats in the gravel or sand of your turtle’s tank for them to dig up and eat. They love digging so this is a great way to keep them entertained.
  • Mazes – 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 eared slider_Raymond Halim_Pixabay
Image Credit: Raymond Halim, Pixabay

Even though most turtles don’t like being handled, they do like to see you. When you take them out of their tank, you can have them follow you around in a safe space. You can also wiggle your fingers at them from outside the tank. They will try to catch your finger and follow it around if you move it back and forth.

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Final Thoughts

Even though you may not think of turtles as playful creatures, they are! Turtles love toys and require many engaging activities to keep them happy and healthy. Try some of these with your turtle and you will be rewarded with a content pet.


Featured Image Credit: Piqsels



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