How To Play With A Pet Turtle – Best Indoor And Outdoor Games

Dec 5, 2020

How to play with a pet turtle

Sometimes, it’s hard to even catch a glimpse of a pet turtle moving at all – let alone playing and have fun. So, this might come as a shock to you, but turtles display signs of depression and displeasure when confined in a scarce environment. In this blog, I’ll share some useful tips on how to play with pet turtle.

How To Play With A Pet Turtle?

Turtles enjoy several indoor and outdoor games. For indoor activities, you can create an obstacle maze, hide the treat, or add live creatures inside the tank. For outdoor fun, you can let them explore the yard and swim in a bigger pool. How to play with pet turtle boils down to your pet’s personality ultimately.

Watch this adorable video of a turtle playing with his ball:

Here are some of the best Indoor and Outdoor games which i have laid out to make your turtle happy.

Let’s have a more in-depth look at these options now

Indoor Games For Turtles

If you put in some effort and spin some creative ideas, your turtle and you can still have plenty of fun indoors. For instance, you can create obstacle maze, hide the treats, create a sandy beach-like landscape, or add some fun toys in the tank.

An obstacle maze
An obstacle maze

Obstacle Maze

Turtles may not look the part, but they’re known to have superior intelligence than other reptiles.

Creating an obstacle maze for your turtle will provide just the right balance of mental and physical stimulation.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just use some everyday items like stones, plants, and sticks to create a maze within the tank. At the end of the maze, place a healthy turtle snack so that your pet is enticed to complete the journey.

Treats from Wardley are a healthy option as they’re low in fat and high in vitamins. These are particularly fortified with the nutrients needed for healthy eyes and shell.

Watching the turtle stray through the obstacles is quite amusing to watch for owners too. Just make sure you don’t go overboard with treats.

Find The Treat

Another fun way to give the tiny turtle brain some exercise is to hide the treat. Turtles have a good sense of smell. So, once they smell the food, they’ll excitedly start looking for it.

At first, your pet may seem confused. But after some time, it’ll know exactly what you’re up to and play along.

Just make sure to not drive your turtle to the point of frustration.

A Sandy Beach

In nature, turtles spend their time in both water and land.

So, digging comes naturally to turtles. Your pet will absolutely love it if you provide some textured gravel substrate.

The texture mixed in the gravel will keep your turtle entertained for hours on end.

When making the beach-like landscape, slope the land portion into the water. This way, it’ll be easier for your pet to enter and exit the water.

Lastly, make sure there’s an ample basking platform so your turtle can enjoy heat lamps. Perhaps they don’t enjoy anything as much as they enjoy basking in the heat.

The UVB Heat Lighting Kit by Zoo Med is a decent choice, as shown by several amazing reviews on Amazon.

What I liked the most about this kit is that the polished aluminum dome increases light and UV output by up to 30% without raising the electricity bill.

Friends Turned Food

Turtles are natural foragers.

So, you can add live fish, insects, tadpoles, and shrimp to the tank.

These creatures won’t only keep your turtle company as it curiously chases them around but also makes tasty snacks when the time comes.

Chasing and foraging will provide mental and physical exercise. Simultaneously, the tank’s inmates will deliver a good dose of nutrients for your turtle.

But make sure that you don’t add your favorite creatures in the tank.

Magic Fingers 

Turtles don’t like being handled or touched very often. But if your turtle’s anything like mine, it’ll love some gentle scratches on the shell. You can even try a toothbrush with soft bristles.

And if your turtle doesn’t like even the slightest touch, try wiggling your fingers outside the tank.

You can even get your turtle to chase a finger from inside the tank. It’s the turtle edition of playing fetch.

Caves And Hides 

Turtles love having a dark hiding spot or two.

Caves and hides don’t only give a sense of protection but also room for exploration.

If you have a spacious tank, add a cave or a good hiding spot for your turtle to relax. Now, if it’s outdoors, you can make the cave using mud, wood, and rocks.

But inside a tank setting, none of that will be appropriate or long-lasting. So, it’s better to buy a readymade structure that’ll save you many DIYs and repairs.

Reptile Rock Hide by MM Pet Supplies seems like a sturdy, natural-looking cave at a decent price point for your turtle.

The heavy-duty piece has natural colors and textures—all made with eco-friendly and safe materials.

Decorative Distractions

A well-designed tank itself can keep your turtle occupied for hours every day.

Add submerged plants like water lettuce and anacharis. The addition of plants won’t only lend a natural setting for the tank but also make a quick snack whenever your turtle is hungry.

You can also add sticks and logs alongside plants, which your turtle will try to climb on probably.

And every once in a while, spice up the tank’s decorations.

Window decals and ornaments suspended from the top of the tank will keep your pet curious for a good time. When positioned currently, these will also substitute as hiding places for a good sense of privacy.

Here’s a floating turtle feeder by Zoo Med that I love!

Since this feeder released pellets when bumped, it has helped my turtles retain their natural food and hunting habits and instincts!

Toys

You can add small rafts and ping pong balls into the tank. As these float on the water, your turtle will have a good time chasing and playing with them. You can even add a rubber duck.

If it’s something that can be grabbed by the beak, your turtle will drag the toy around the tank, much like a dog with a bone.

Here’s a link to my turtles’ favorite toys that are super handy and affordable: ping pong balls!

It’s pure joy to watch my turtles play ‘soccer’ with their cute, tiny limbs.

You Might Also Want To Read:

What Happens to Turtles When They Die? Is It A Bad Omen?

How to Bury a Turtle? A Proper Ritual

Can Box Turtles Swim? – Or Do They Drown?

Outdoor Games

No matter how cozy a turtle’s indoor habitat is, he still needs to be under the sun and enjoy every once in a while. An outdoor game can range from a simple stroll in the yard and a mini water pool to little races.

Outdoor turtles
Outdoor turtles

A Stroll In The Yard

A turtle loves the comfort of the cage but also needs an occasional stroll in the yard.

Once in a while, take your pet to the yard and let him explore and forage. Do it during the daytime so he can also get plenty of sunlight.

But don’t leave the turtle unsupervised, even for a brief moment. As ironic as it sounds, they can run into danger in no time.

Water Pool

Occasionally, pamper your turtle by allowing it to swim in a bigger pool. Here, the bigger space automatically translates to a higher level of fun.

The turtle will have a bigger space to swim around freely, dive into, and explore as it pleases.

However, once again, keep a constant eye on your pet as it swims to avoid any kind of mishap.

Turtle Race

This isn’t something you can often do, but boy, is it fun.

If you have multiple turtles, organize a short race between them. Add their favorite toys or snacks at the finishing line.

If you have only one turtle, you can still try to get him to complete the lap. This time, you can create a few obstacles to spice up things.  

To make a runaway, you can use sticks and stones.

5 Things to Keep in Mind While Playing with Your Turtle

Baby turtle
Baby turtle

By now, you have probably figured that it’s not ‘how to play with a turtle’ but ‘how to facilitate your turtle’s playtime.’

A turtle’s physical structure is unique, and so is it’s need—whether we’re talking about dietary requirements, space, or playtime. Make sure that you’re gentle and patient the whole time. Also, don’t forget to be careful, consistent. and give the reptile its space.

Gentle Handling

Don’t touch and handle your turtle until and unless you need. They like to keep their distance.

If you want/need to pick your turtle, do it very gently. Don’t try to be abrupt or sneaky. That’ll give them a good scare.

If your turtle doesn’t like being handled at all, it may even try to bite you in the process. Be careful.

Be Patient 

We can’t stress enough that turtles aren’t like cats or dogs. They aren’t even the same species.

Your turtle may take more time than what you’ve anticipated to engage in a game and interact with you.

Be Consistent

It may act completely oblivious the first few times. But if you encourage it every day, your turtle will enjoy it’s playtime before you know.

Maintain Cleanliness

The tank will inevitably get dirty when you organize fun activities for your turtle inside the tank.

Besides that, turtles are inherently quite lazy.

If you don’t clean the leftover food and waste often, the tank’s nitrate and ammonia levels will spike.

In turn, that will lead to several complications.

Turtle’s shell is also prone to algae growth and becoming itchy when not cleaned regularly.

To clean the shell, add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a few cups of water. Mix them properly and use a soft brush to lightly clean the shell.

Provide Ample Space 

Turtles love to swim, bask in the heat, and laze around in the sand. And it can be quite challenging to create a perfect environment that offers all of these.

Thus, you need a big tank with a generous amount of space. Look up your turtle’s potential adult size and buy a tank accordingly, so you don’t have to replace it later.

Although your turtle may seem immobile most of the time, remember, they have large territories in the wild. If not much, try to mimic that setting to a small extent.

Frequently Asked Questions                                

Do Turtles Get Bored?

Yes, as lazy as turtles might seem, they can get bored quite quickly.

Despite their love for solace, turtles need regular physical and mental stimulation due to their sharp brains.

If your catch your turtle always digging or climbing, these could be telltale signs of boredom.

And it doesn’t take much for the boredom to transform into depression and anxiety.

And these have even more dire consequences like self-injury, appetite loss, panic attacks, and so on.

Do Turtles Need Exercise?

So we have mentioned many ways to exercise your turtle, but do they really need exercise?

The answer is yes. Exercise is imminent for a turtle’s overall wellbeing. It won’t only keep the weight in check and mind entertained but also shield against preventable diseases.

But don’t overdo it. An exercise every other should be enough.

How Do I Know My Turtle Is Happy?

A turtle’s happiness is not something easily reflected on the face. But you can ascertain that with the help of different gestures they show.

For an instant, your turtle will extend its head and limbs to display trust and joy.

If you’re lucky, your pet might even try to touch your hand or arm with its nose to show affection. That’s basically how love is expressed in the wild.

Do Turtles Recognize Their Owners?

With all the fun that you’ve planned for your turtle, wouldn’t it be great if your turtle would recognize the person behind it all?

Most turtles recognize their owner quite easily. For this, they rely on their sense of smell and sight.

But it’s rare for a turtle to recognize its owner by voice. Their hearing power isn’t as developed.

Final Words On How To Play With Pet Turtle

So, How to play with pet turtle? By now, you’ve probably figured it out that playing with turtles doesn’t really involve. Actually, it’s all about facilitating and creating a fun environment for your turtle to play and have fun. You can play treasure hunt with food, obstacle maze, and even add live creatures for it to forage for indoor games. Replicating a beach’s landscape is another excellent idea your turtle will absolutely love. For outdoor activities, you can organize a race or simply let them explore the land on their own will or swim in a large water body.

Further Readings:

Do Turtles Get Lonely? 6 Tips To Keep Your Turtle Happy

How Strong is A Turtle’s Shell? Are They Bulletproof?

Do Turtles Jump? How High Can Turtles Jump?

Can All Turtles Swim? – Everything You Want To Know About The Turtle’s Swimming.

rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.