What Do Turtles Like to Play With?

TheCritterCove is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. See more here.

What Do Turtles Like to Play With

Toys actually encourage their natural behaviors, like swimming, climbing, and digging!

Turtles are solitary creatures.

They live in a shell and spend their time either on land or in water, but not both at the same time.

This is why you will never see two turtles playing together, even if they have been given plenty of space to do so.

There is one exception: turtles sometimes get together when it comes to mating season, but that’s about it for social contact with other turtles.

And yet there are people who keep more than one turtle as pets, which begs the question: How does this work out?

What kind of games can these solitary animals play? The answer is actually surprisingly simple!

You don’t need any special toys or equipment- just your imagination!

Turtles love to explore and find new things and they will love you for it!

In this article, we will cover a few ideas to get your creative process going.

What Is Enrichment and How Does It Work?

Turtles are pretty much always on the move.

They walk around, look for food and find shelter whenever they can.

In the wild, it’s pretty much an endless search for something that has been lost forever.

But when you put a turtle in its own habitat, it quickly becomes clear that there is no need to wander around anymore.

You can see them slow down and grow lazy- which is not good for their health.

Enrichment is a way to ensure that your turtle will keep moving and feasting its eyes on the world around it.

It’s a way to make them more active and curious, which is very important for their mental well-being.

RELATED READ: How to Take Care of a Baby Turtle

What Do Turtles Do For Fun

curious turtle

Turtles are explorers– they will go wherever you let them!

So think about different ways to challenge them and let their wild side out of its shell.

Here are a few ideas:


Turtles like new things and toys are new for them.

Putting some interesting toys in their habitat might keep them entertained for hours- especially if they are made of different materials.

Just remember- turtles are not interested in toys that might hurt them, so never give them anything too small or with sharp edges.


Turtles love empty shells.

If you put a few in their habitat, they will pick them up and move them around for fun.

Shells also make the perfect shelter if it’s big enough, so your turtle will appreciate this nice “house” you drop in their habitat.


Try putting a floating log or some other object in their water and see how your turtle reacts.

This makes a floating object an excellent way to make them explore the boundaries of their living space. They can sink or push them around the turtle tank.

Ping-Pong Ball or Anything That Floats

If you drop a ping-pong ball in their tank, turtles will try and pick it up and inspect it.

This might be enough to keep it occupied for hours, but also other floating objects are very appreciated.

Some turtles may or may not react to these, it really depends on the turtle, but you might as well try it out and see if your turtle will enjoy it.

RELATED READ: 10 Basic Tips For Caring For Baby Red Eared Sliders


Your turtle’s environment is also a great way to make them more active.

A lot of turtles enjoy climbing on things and finding good hiding spots.

Gravel and Sand

Turtles love to dig in the dirt– you can see them do this in their natural habitat.

But an even easier way to make them dig in is to put some sand or gravel in their tank.

They will swim around the habitat to find the perfect spot for digging and then just let them do their thing!

Rocks or Caves

Like gravel and sand, turtles like to find different spots to relax.

Placing some rocks or interesting-looking caves in their tank will give them the perfect place to rest.

Just make sure that nothing in their habitat can hurt them.

Plants and Flowers

Turtles like plants and flowers too!

They will definitely take a closer look at the plants in their tank.

It’s especially nice to watch turtles crawl around plants and flowers because they are usually very peaceful and enjoy their time in the water.

It’s also a nice way to make your plants grow faster because turtles tend to eat plants.

Just make sure if you add plastic plants to the tank that they are BPA-free and safe for turtles to chew on.


decoration enrichment

Just be wary that your turtle can see outside of their tank and remember that they like to climb.

Putting some decorations in the tank might keep them busy, but always make sure not to add anything that might hurt them.

A turtle will inspect the decorations if they are curious but it doesn’t mean they will play with them or hang out with them.

So always make sure that the tank is safe for your turtle.

Move Around Decorations

A good way to keep them interested is to move some decorations around.

Every time you do this, your turtle will inspect the new location of the decorations.

It’s not only fun but also a good way to make sure your turtle is healthy.

Turtles love new things and they are always interested in something new, which means that you just have to change some things around to make them happy.

Just don’t do it too often as they might get stressed out.


Turtles are curious, but if they happen to see bubbles or a floating object, they will be even more curious.

But if you’re interested to see how they react, just drop some bubbles.

This can be done with water tubes, air pipes, or air stones. You can add bubbles to the turtle tank by using air pumps that can come in many forms.

They don’t need air bubbles as fish do but it could be a thing that could keep them interested from time to time.

Take Them Outside

You can bring your turtle outside to bask and explore the sunlight.

You can also bring some water from their tank outside, but be careful when adding it in because you need to make sure that their habitat is safe for them to go outside.

They will probably enjoy just getting some fresh air outside of their tank.

Make sure that the weather isn’t too cold for them!

RELATED READ: The Best Turtle Substrate


Turtles like to eat, and they will eat as much as you give them.

So changing their diet from time to time might be something they are interested in.

Make sure to not change their diet too often or for too long, because it can have negative consequences for their health.

Turtles will enjoy eating different kinds of food– they’ll even try new things, but it doesn’t mean that everything is good for them to eat.

Try out different kinds of food and see what they like, and this can be done in an engaging way for them to keep them interested in eating.

You can also give them some different kinds of treats while they are outside their tank, like bugs or worms for example.


You can hide treats in the gravel and let your turtle dig them up.

This way they will spend a lot of time trying to find the treats and digging in dirt which is fun for them.

Hiding some food in the tank is also a fun way to keep them having fun!

List of treats for turtles:

  • Worms
  • Insects
  • Reptile pellets
  • Veggies
  • Fruit

Turtles like eating veggies and fruit, so giving them vegetables or fruits will also keep them entertained.

Feeder Fish

feeder fish

The pursuit of hunting fishes will keep them busy and engaged for hours and a great way to add enrichment.

You can give them some feeder fish as a treat! This will really stimulate their hunting instinct and when you have fish in the turtle tank zooming around you really will see how much more active the turtle can get.

Make sure you are adding safe feeders, so avoid goldfish and minnows and that is because they have something called diamond aids in them which can be harmful to the turtle.

Snails are also not the best option because they will be too big for the turtle to actually eat if it decides to eat them.

Live Food

Not a lot of turtles eat live food, but it might be something that they enjoy!

You can feed them worms, insects, shrimps, and crayfish as a treat.

But just like everything else: make sure they are safe to eat!

Treat Toys

Treat toys are a great way to stimulate your turtle and add some enrichment to their life.

They will be able to eat from treat toys which is a great way for them to get food, but it will also stimulate them to look for their treats!

There are treat toys that have dividers inside of them, so you can put some food in it and let your turtles try to find all of the food inside.

RELATED READ: Can You Have Turtles And Fish In The Same Tank?

Interaction with Humans

Despite the fact that most turtles dislike being handled, they do enjoy looking at you. When you’re spending some time near the tank, they will get curious and try to find out what you’re doing.

They might come closer to look at you, or they might put their head out to see what you’re doing.

Turtles are very curious creatures and that is a great way for them to get engaged.

So try to spend some time near their tank and interact with them, but make sure you are certain that they want the interaction because if they don’t, they might get frightened by your movement.

How to Play With Your Turtles?

There are many ways for you to interact with your turtles, but if they show that they don’t want to be handled just respect their wishes.

Some turtles get frightened if you pet them, so make sure to only put your hands in the tank when they want it.

Scoop Them Up

If they want to be held, you can scoop them up and take them out of the tank. Make sure not to tense your hands because they can sense this.

If you’re scared, then your turtle will be too.

RELATED READ: How to Choose the Best Live Plants for Turtle Tanks

How to Know if Your Turtle is Happy?

You can tell your turtle is happy by how active it is.

When it’s active, then they are happy. Turtles that are inactive will not be as much fun because you can’t really do anything with them.

So when you put in some effort to make your turtle happy, it will be ten times more fun for both of you; because even they deserve to have some fun once in a while too.

RELATED READ: How to Set Up a Turtle Tank

Things To Keep In Mind While Playing With Your Pet Turtle

  1. Don’t put your hands inside rocks or in between the glass and the gravel because you might hurt yourself and it is also not good for the turtle.
  2. Don’t try to force your turtle to come out, just be patient and let them stay where they want to and see what they will do.
  3. Never use soap, shampoo, or any sort of cleaning product around the turtle tank because this can be very harmful to them.
  4. Be careful with where you put your hands, or if you pick something up the turtle might try to climb onto it and you don’t want them hurt.
  5. Don’t put them on your shoulder or in your shirt, because they can slip and fall and get hurt.
  6. Don’t splash them when you’re playing with water because it can scare them and make them not want to come back.

If you want to play with your turtle, make sure you know the signs that they don’t like it.

RELATED READ: What can Turtles Eat from Human Food?


Turtles enjoy playing with a variety of things, including live food, treat toys, and interaction with humans.

This helps keep them active and healthy. It’s important to be aware of the signs that your turtle doesn’t like something in order to avoid scaring or hurting them.

By providing enrichment for your turtles, you can help make their lives more enjoyable and stimulating.