Turtles have always been popular pets, but does their turtle tank alone meet all of their needs?
Unfortunately, the homes of most pet turtles simply don’t provide enough enrichment for them to have a long, happy, and healthy life.
Contrary to popular belief, turtles (and other reptiles) do, in fact, spend time at play.
Toys For Pet Turtles
When deprived of these opportunities for play, health issues can (and will) arise.
In the all-too-popular bare tanks with nothing but a shelf for basking, detrimental health has been documented in the forms of self-injury, lack of appetite, general malaise and a greatly shortened life expectancy.
Just like any other animal kept in captivity, the opportunity for play is vital to the health and well being of aquatic turtles.
Here are some of the best toys for pet turtles (even though at first glance they may not seem like “toys”)!
Although bare bottom tanks are simple to maintain, gravel adds much-needed mental and physical stimulation for turtles. This makes it well worth the extra bit of effort to vacuum around them when performing water changes.
Rocks should be added that are larger than standard aquarium gravel so that they are too large to swallow and become a choking or intestinal hazard. And, a variety of shapes and sizes are best.
River rocks are a perfect addition to large sized gravel to provide a variety of shape, color, and texture for your pet turtle to enjoy. These rocks are available at most retail pet stores and garden nurseries.
Gravel made especially for turtles is even available, perfect to allow turtles to dig and forage. This is how they spend most of their time in the wild.
Simply adding a variety of shells, rocks, and other textures to their environment is one of the best and simplest ways to not only enrich the environment, but to also decorate the tank.
Take this opportunity to customize your pet turtle’s habitat so that it’s not only better for his or her health, but fits in perfectly with your home decor!
One of the very best ways to enrichment the environment of any pet turtle, both mentally and physically, is to add “whole” foods.
Insects such as mealworms and crickets, either live or dry are very much appreciated by pet turtles.
Grasshoppers are available in a can, which retains the nutritional value of live food without the hassle.
River Shrimp are also a cheap and easy treat that’s a natural favorite across many species of pet turtles, both wild and “domestic.”
These natural, whole foods will fall to the bottom of the tank and into the substrate you’ve provided. This creates tremendously enjoyable foraging rewards that aren’t just high in nutritional value, but help to mimic a more natural environment as our pet turtles have to do a bit of work for their food.
Living domestically doesn’t mean that every meal should be a free lunch!
Feeder fish can provide play and healthy enrichment as well, often for several days or weeks at a time. If you have a large tank, then the trip to the store for a few goldfish is well worth the effort.
Hides and caves are an absolute must for all turtles.
They provide a place for security, to evade possible difficulties with a tank mate and, of course, are a source of great fun as our turtle(s) forage about their habitat. There should always be a place that provides seclusion and a sense of safety in all turtle habitats.
Hides come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors so take the opportunity to pick something that enhances environmental enrichment as well as their habitat’s appearance.
Toys For Turtles
Those are some great ways you can keep your turtles entertained and happy. It gives them something else to do, and will keep their minds active.
Final thing: Check out these turtles playing with a toy ball (ping pong balls work well)!
Have fun with your turtles and help your turtles have fun!