You’re probably not going to sit around playing monopoly with your pet turtle, and I highly doubt they’ll be interested in a rousing game of Uno or charades, either. But contrary to popular belief, turtles can play and even have fun. It’s actually good for them to have an engaging, stimulating environment with lots to do. So if you’re sitting there wondering, “How on earth am I going to entertain this turtle?” keep on reading to find out, what do turtles like to do for fun?
Turtles enjoy enrichment activities like many other animals. These activities include eating, swimming, playing with toys, foraging, basking in the sun, racing, and more. So you can create many opportunities for your turtle to play without having to spend a lot of money or time.
In this article, we’ll talk about ways that you can play with your turtle. We’ll give you lots of ideas to keep your turtle active and happy. But first, let’s look at why your turtle needs some enrichment activities.
Turtle Need Enrichment Activities to Stay Healthy
It’s true. Turtles can get bored. And a bored turtle can become stressed and depressed, which could lead to health problems, including a lack of appetite. So it’s essential to keep your little turtle entertained! You might be surprised at all the different ways you can help your turtle have fun.
1. Turtles Like to Explore Their Enclosure for Fun
A turtle would spend its day foraging for food and exploring its territory in its natural habitat. Your shell-baby is no exception! They love to explore their enclosure, so make sure they have enough room to explore. Make it enjoyable with different textures, plants, and decorations.
2. Turtles Love to Dig for Fun
Some turtles are like little mini excavators. They just love to dig around their enclosure. Ensure they have some turtle-safe substrate to dig in, such as turtle pebbles, coconut fiber substrate, or crushed coral substrate. Ask your local pet store for ideas if you aren’t sure what’s best for your turtle species. You can even hide some turtle treats so your turtle can discover them.
3. Turtles Love to Eat for Entertainment
Turtles are like me: I just love to eat! And eating is a favorite pastime for turtles. They just love to munch! So setting them up with some interesting new foods will keep your turtle entertained and having fun.
Livejournal talks about some of the foods they feed their turtle, including tomato, lettuce, strawberries, banana, mango, and even boiled chicken.
4. Turtles Love to Chase Their Food
Don’t just offer fun fruits and veggies because turtles love to hunt and chase their food. Instead, you can add exciting insects such as mealworms or crickets for them to pursue. And if you have a water feature, adding some feeder fish or even live shrimp in there will totally give your hard-headed little friend something fun to do. They’ll spend hours chasing around fish for their supper.
5. Floaties Are Great Turtle Entertainment
Add a few flotation devices if you have a water feature in your turtle tank! No, not like a life preserver vest, but more like a bit of raft or floating log. Floaties will give your turtle a spot to climb up out of the water and take a rest.
You can also include floating toys such as small boats, light-up rubber ducks, balls, and small bath toys. Remember to avoid things with small pieces that could break off or injure the turtle.
6. Hiding Spots Are Fun For Turtles
Some turtles will want to hide away when they sleep or just have a peaceful spot to get away from it all and relax. When you create your turtle enclosure, try to think of a few hiding spots that you can include. Maybe your turtle would like a cave to sleep in, a large (non-toxic) plant to explore, or some substrate to bury itself in. Since turtles need to kick back and relax, creating a little hideaway will help reduce any type of turtly stress.
7. Toys Can Be Great Entertainment for Your Pet Turtle
You can put some fun toys in your turtle’s pen so they can explore and play. Remember to make sure the toys are safe for your turtle, of course, and toddler toys are often a great option.
Popular turtle toys include floating rubber ducks, brightly colored ping pong balls, treat balls, aquarium decorations, and other small toys. Your turtle will push the toys around and even chase them in the water.
Aquariumanswers.com talks about using an Aquarium Powerhead to entertain your turtle. Their site says a powerhead creates a flow in the water similar to what you might find in creeks and streams. It will feel more like the turtle’s natural habitat, and they can swim and enjoy the flow. A powerhead will also help the water circulate, which will help keep the tank cleaner, too!
8. Turtles Enjoy Decorations
Turtles will have fun looking at visually stimulating things. You might try to decorate the inside of their enclosure with the same kinds of accessories you would use for a fish tank, like rocks, sunken ships, and bubble blowers.
You can also create interesting things to look at outside your turtle’s tank. Brightly colored pictures, a window, and being near the action in your home will keep your turtle happily entertained.
9. Turtles Love to Bask in the Sun
It isn’t unusual to see turtles basking in the sunlight in the wild. Basking in the sun helps them regulate their temperature, absorb Vitamin for strong shells and bones, and may even help regulate their metabolism. But, of course, we all know how good the sun’s rays feel on our skin, and the same goes for a turtle’s shell.
An ideal turtle setup will include some kind of a basking light for them to enjoy. There are plenty of options, as you can see from aquaanswers.com. You’ll have to find the one that is right for your species of turtle and your turtle’s specific enclosure.
10. Some Turtles Love Affection
Some turtles just love affection. For example, most turtles will enjoy having their shells cleaned with a soft toothbrush. It’s kind of like brushing a goat – it feels good to them, but it also helps clean their shells and prevent any build-up of algae. So over time, they may associate the sight of the toothbrush with something nice – you!
Turtles may not necessarily enjoy being held and cuddled like a kitten, but they’ll like enjoy coming to see you – especially if you consistently offer a treat! And they enjoy a gentle head rub, too.
11. Get Your Turtle Outdoors and Into the Fresh Air for Some Special Fun
As long as it isn’t too cold outside, your turtle can go outside to explore in the grass, breathe in the fresh air, and get some natural sun, too. Of course, if you take your turtle out, you’ll need to keep them well-supervised, so they don’t get lost or injured.
Here are a few outdoor activities your turtle might like.
12. Make a Turtle Tractor for Your Turtle to Have Fun Outside
For years, we’ve built outdoor pens for our rabbits, guinea pigs, and chickens so they can explore safely without getting lost. You can use a similar idea for your turtle! If you have an old baby pool that doesn’t hold water anymore, you can cut out the bottom and turn it upside-down to create a small turtle pen. Just make sure your little pet can’t squeeze out from underneath the sides! They’ll be safer inside but can still explore the grass. Make sure they also have a little food, water, and a place to get out of the sun, if needed.
13. Turtles Love to Go Swimming for Fun
Indoor turtle cages aren’t always very big, so giving your turtle some outdoor time to stretch his legs is always a great idea. You can even turn a baby pool into a bit of turtle pool for outdoor use.
Fill it with water that is deep enough for your turtle to take a swim, but also make sure you include some dry land so they can take a rest. Always make sure your turtle is supervised when they aren’t home in their enclosure and, of course, only do this in warm weather.
14. Turtle Racing Can Be Fun, Too
We all know the old story about the tortoise and the hare, but what if you raced turtle against turtle? # against #? Slow versus slow? Turtle racing can be fun for both owners and turtles alike, so grab your turtle-owning pals and set up a race. The Turtle Hub offers great advice on how to run your own turtle race.
You can even get stickers for your turtle’s shells, so you know who is who amongst the competition!
15. Creating a Turtle Obstacle Maze to Keep Them Occupied
JalJeev.com talks about how you can make an obstacle maze in your turtle’s tank to keep them entertained. They recommend putting a treat at the end of the maze to reward your turtle for a job well done! This miniature obstacle course will help keep your turtle active and interested.
16. Turtles Can Learn to Do Tricks for Fun
Turtles might not be the first animal that comes to mind when you think of teaching your pet tricks, but if you are very patient, they can learn! Of course, turtles need lots of treats and repetition to learn their tricks, but it is possible. Check out this video of a psychologist who taught his turtle to sit, shake, and even play dead.
Even if those tricks are too advanced, you can teach a turtle to learn to associate food with a particular toy, such as a ping-pong ball. This type of activity is called target training. In time, the turtle will learn to go to the toy when it wants a treat!
How to Know if Your Turtle Is Happy and Having Fun
Lovetoknow.com shares some great tips on how to know if your turtle is happy and having fun. They explain to watch for things like turtle behavior and appetite. If your turtle is having fun, they will eagerly go after their food! And if they are happy to see you, they may splash when you come into the room. On the other hand, if your turtle is hiding more than usual, there might be something wrong.