How to play with a turtle: Indoor and Outdoor Games

The first thing that is to be known about turtles is that they are not particularly social creatures. However, they still are living creatures that require a bit of social interaction every once in a while. Turtles love engaging in fun activities once in a while. They are also required to do so as it helps keep their weight in check. 

Just like all other animals, turtles get bored as well. Making sure they have fun is a way to ensure they are not stressed out and depressed. Keeping your pet turtles happy and relaxed is a sure way to increase their lifespan too. 

Visit this link to learn about how you should care for your lovable pet turtle : How to Take Care of a Turtle

What do Turtles Like to Play With?

What do Turtles Like to Play With

Toys are a great item that can go a long way in keeping your pet turtles entertained. Toys are arguably one of the best ways to kill boredom in turtles as they are not creatures that enjoy being “handled”. Toys kill two birds with one stone by giving the pets the freedom to play with them at their own pace without requiring human interaction. Let us look at what could make great toys for your turtles.

  • Turtles spend a lot of time on the aquarium substrate or usually spend time on sandy surfaces. If you have a gravel substrate or just plain sand or gravel at home, they would enjoy digging into it. Just don’t make the substrate too deep or too shallow.  
  • A change of environment would also do wonders for them. If you have a large swimming pool or an inflatable children’s pool, try occasionally dropping your turtles in here. The turtles would enjoy swimming in a larger environment for a while. 
  • Making an obstacle course for your turtles is yet another sure way to kill your pet’s boredom. They will enjoy navigating through the maze littered with pits, sticks and stones, plants, and other items that they should avoid. Adding a treat at the end of the maze is highly recommended as well. This will boost their enthusiasm significantly. 
  • Rearranging all the decor in their tank is also something that will improve their mood. The change in their environment is something that has consistently shown increased activity when it comes to turtles. 
  • Adding other fish as tank mates for turtles can be a very efficient way to improve their general mood. They serve as a constant company for your pet turtles. 
  • Turtles love playing with empty shells too. It is the equivalent of a dog finding a stick. The shell is a very versatile toy as it has a surface that can potentially slide all across the tank. The turtles will chase after the shell. 
  • You could even put in simple kid’s toys. Brightly colored objects attract the attention of the turtle and keep it engaged. 

Things to Keep in Mind While Playing With Your Pet Turtle :  

Not everything always goes smoothly when you are caring for your turtle and playing with it. There are some things that you must be wary of while playing with them. 

  • Make sure you do not stress your turtle out too much. Trying to get them to learn tricks is a factor that can contribute to stress. Especially if the tricks are complicated to perform. Let them explore at their own pace. Too much pressure might even lead to fatality. 
  • Safety is always the top priority. Ensure your turtle does not get injured while playing games or interacting with toys. Design the activities for your turtle in a way that does not harm them. 
  • As we mentioned earlier, refrain from handling your pet turtles more than necessary. They prefer to be solitary during their playtime sessions. Even if you have to manage them, do so with love and care. Be gentle and patient. 
  • Also, this cannot be stressed enough, but NEVER EVER put your turtle on its back. DO NOT try and coax your turtle out of its shell or pull its tail. 
  • Do not be worried or put off if your turtle does not learn the activities and games you have designed for it immediately. They need time to acclimate and get used to the game. Turtles also have very meek methods of showing appreciation, meaning their message is not always easy to notice.

How to make a happy environment for your turtle?

The best way to create an environment where your pet turtle will thrive and be happy would be to do the following. 

  • Ensure that your turtles have ample space. You can do this by researching the potential requirement of room for your turtle as an adult. Turtles enjoy being able to swim while also being able to relax and take in some sun. They must completely submerge themselves in the water while also having access to an area that allows them to stay completely dry. 
  • Turtles like being able to swim. They also need access to dry land. Decorating your aquarium to be similar to a beach is ideal for this. Making sure that the turtle can swim freely in the wet part of the tank is essential. The best way to let them transition from land to water in the aquarium would be to create a slope using the sand. This makes entering and exiting the water accessible for the turtle. Also, provide the tank with a platform where the turtle can soak up in the sun or some light. 
  • Maintain cleanliness in the habitat of the turtle. Make sure that the tank is cleaned regularly (preferably every week). The last thing you need is a dirty tank leading to your turtle getting sick. Keep in mind that algae will keep forming on the turtle’s shell occasionally and needs to be brushed off. Keeping an eye on your turtle is essential as they shed sometimes. Their shell can get quite irritable and itchy at these times if not cleaned. 
  • Place objects that can become toys on the surface of the water. Brightly colored children’s toys that are not complicated will be the best as they strike the turtle’s attention. The turtles will happily play with the toys. It serves as a stress buster for them. 

Turtles are amphibious creatures and have the option of playing either inside the tank or outdoors. Let us take a look at some of the games that the turtles enjoy on both fronts. Keep in mind that both are necessary to keep them happy and healthy, so do not skip on either. 

Indoor Games That You Can Play With Your Turtle :

  • Decorate your Turtles tank in different ways occasionally. They love having change be a constant in their environment. This change helps keep their mood up and increases the level of activity that you see in them. 
  • Place plants and ticks in different areas of the tank. The turtles will interact with these objects and be active. They might do things like bite the stick or try and climb on top of them if they are on the larger side. 
  • Try adding other small fish in the tank. The turtle is benefitted from them either as a company or can also chase after them. On the off chance that the turtle manages to catch them, they can act as a tasty treat. 
  • The addition of cave-like structures is a good idea. The turtle will enjoy exploring this area. It serves as a hiding spot. The cave will also be a place that the turtle can use as a safe space or a sanctuary. 
  • Items like empty shells are favorites for turtles. They are very versatile toys in an aquarium tank. Their shape and finish make them capable of sliding around the tank, and the turtle loves chasing it around the tank and playing with it. 
  • You could use other objects as toys like rubber ducks or ping pong balls that float on the surface of the water. These will be heavily interacted with by the turtle and played with. The turtle will enjoy playing with these toys. 
  • Turtles love digging. Using a sandy or gravel substrate is ideal for them as it will also allow them to explore around. Just do not layer it on too thick or too thin. 
  • Create an obstacle maze for your turtle. This is arguably the most popular activity that turtle owners create to entertain their pets. Place objects inside the maze as this will make the maze a little more interesting for them. Also, place a treat at the end of the maze. This will motivate them to make it to the end.

Outdoor Games That You Can Play With Your Turtle : 

Now that we have seen a few indoor games that turtles enjoy, let us look at some of the games you can arrange for them outside. 

  • Try and change their environment again, but this time, try and put them in a pool. Even a blow-up children’s pool will do the trick if you do not have access to a pool. The turtles will enjoy being able to swim freely in a much larger space. 
  • Optionally, you could try and take the turtles outside for a walk of sorts. Try and take them outside in the backyard. Turtles are used to foraging for food in the wild. The turtle will roam around and bask in the sunshine. They quite enjoy little adventures like this. 
  • If you have more than one turtle, a fantastic activity you can perform is a turtle race. Making a makeshift running track for the two turtles and placing a treat for each at the end of the track is a good way of getting them to race. It is a fun activity that the turtles will enjoy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) :

How Do I Know My Turtle Is Happy?

Figuring out whether or not your pet turtle is happy is not a very easy task. It is not just something that you can understand as an expression seen on the turtle’s face. However, there are other gestures that the turtle makes. These are signs that show whether your turtle is happy or not. The simple extension of their head and limbs is a sign that they are joyful. It also signifies that they trust you and are joyous. In some cases, the turtle may even reach out and attempt to touch you. This is an effort to express their happiness and affection towards you. 

Do Turtles Get Bored?

Just like most other animals and creatures, even turtles get bored. They crave some form of social interaction or activity once in a while to overcome this boredom. This activity helps keep their mind sharp and focused. Too much boredom could lead to a bad mental space. This is the start of depression and anxiety. 

Signs that your turtles are bored are when they continuously dig into the gravel substrate or climb over different obstacles. It is times like these that you must provide them with some form of entertainment or activity.

Do Turtles Recognize Their Owners?

Yes, turtles usually do recognize their owners quite easily. They primarily use their senses of smell and sight to identify them. A turtle identifying its owner by its voice is a sporadic occurrence as its hearing power is not too developed. This recognition does take time, but it does happen eventually. They begin to associate the owner with food, safety, and security. 

Do Turtles need exercise?

The initial impression that most people have is that turtles do not need much exercise. Contrary to popular belief, turtles do require exercise. This is an essential activity as it keeps their weight in check. Exercise is also another way that turtles can avoid boredom. It also helps prevent certain diseases. It is a holistic approach to the well-being of the turtle. However, it would be best if you didn’t overwork your turtle. During the summer months, make sure they get about an hour of exercise a day. In the winter months, their activity level will be significantly less. Please encourage them to climb, walk or dig. 


Turtles are fantastic and very lovable pets as long as they are well taken care of. Contrary to popular opinion, turtles are not as lethargic and inactive as they think. They love playing with toys and engaging in activities with their owners. Turtles are fun pets to keep because they are a lot more about the owner finding and creating activities to do for them. Creating a fun environment, organizing races, changing things up, making obstacle courses, etc., are all things you can do with them. Take care of your turtles, and the whole journey will be an enriching experience. 

For further reading, you can also check out these articles. They will increase your knowledge of your pet turtles :

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