Having a happy turtle habitat at home means carefully recreating the natural environment of turtles that live in the wild.
But do pet turtles have the urge to play with toys as other pet animals sometimes do?
If your turtle tries to change its aquascape or digs things up seemingly on purpose, then the animal is likely bored and needs something to play with. Another sign that turtles may need entertainment is when they start to claw their own skin.
Taking that on board, in this article, I will walk you through the best type of toys suitable for your pet turtles.
Let’s find out what you need to have in your turtle tank in order to keep your pet entertained and happy.
8 Best Toys for Pet Turtles: My Top Recommendations
Below made sure to list only toys that I have personally used or ones that I’ve carefully researched and considered getting. I made sure all the products I have reviewed are safe for the turtles and their aquarium.
With that being said, here are my top recommendations for pet turtle toys:
No doubt, the Zoo Med Floating Turtle Feeder is one interesting invention.
This turtle toy is designed to look like a fish, is hollow from the inside, and has a few holes on the sides.
The holes have the purpose of slowly releasing turtle food once your pet starts chasing the feeder around the tank.
Turtles are known for being curious about everything that moves in their tank, thinking it may be a potential snack.
You can be sure that the toy feeder won’t go unnoticed.
The feeder’s made from solid plastic, and there’s no chance of it breaking while your pet turtle plays with it or bites it, trying to extract its food.
Anyway, this turtle toy also comes with two small packs of floating pellets.
In this line of thought, you can use whatever food you deem fit, as long as it floats.
However, have in mind that depending on the pellet’s size, the toy feeder’s holes may be either too small or too big for the food.
You probably need to try pellets of different sizes before choosing the right one.
Also, the Zoo Med toy feeder is larger than it looks in the photos, so if your turtles are young or small, it may not be the best choice for them.
Anyhow, this toy is a great habitat enrichment that will help you store your pet’s food in one spot, hence keeping the turtle tank clean.
Another benefit of this toy feeder is that your water turtle will be kept physically active while having fun by “hunting” for its food.
The Mega Marbles are another fun toy to keep your aquatic turtle happy and physically active.
This set of marbles consists of 24 pieces that are 1 inch in diameter and come in different color patterns.
Besides us humans, it seems that for some reason, pet turtles also love playing with these.
I don’t know why, maybe it’s the color that attracts them or the fact, they can roll those marble balls around their tank without any effort.
To be honest, I have never had those for my turtle, since he prefers different kinds of games, but I have a friend who changes the colored marbles in his tank every few days, and his musk turtle goes after them every time.
Author’s note: These marbles are too small to become a toy for turtle species with larger mouths. Larger turtles may mistake them for real food and swallow them. However, shooter marbles are an excellent toy for smaller aquatic turtles such as:
- the musk turtle
- bog turtles
- spotted turtles
Anyhow, if you expect a lot of color diversity, have in mind that not all the packages have 24 different marbles.
Also, some of the balls may be slightly bigger than the rest.
Practice golf balls are another great alternative to marbles when it comes to turtle toys.
Lighter than an original golf ball, the ones I’m listing here are still solid.
You can be sure that your aquatic turtle won’t get hurt while going after them.
They all come in one size, and if you want to introduce some entertainment to your pet turtles, you can choose from a couple of colors, apart from the classic white.
The golf balls are an ideal toy for musk and box turtles too.
Although these practice golf balls have small holes, I would not recommend stuffing them with trutle food treats. The holes are too small and if your turtle is not able to get the food out it may spoil the tank’s water.
You can, however, try to put some earthworms or similar live turtle food in the balls. Worms are ideal because they will wiggle and eventually find a way out of the ball. Just don’t stuff the balls too much.
You might be amused by how interesting this game can become for your pet turtle.
You could also get colored Ping Pong balls, as these also make a fun toy for pet turtles.
Same as the marble shooters, ping pong balls come in a variety of colors.
Made from harmless polypropylene plastic, the ping pong balls I mentioned are a little bit lighter than a regular ping pong ball, which allows them to float easily on the surface of the turtle aquarium.
Your aquatic turtle will be able to easily move them around the tank and endlessly play with them.
You’d be surprised how much turtles enjoy these in their habitat.
The good thing about this toy is that the plastic is hard enough not to be ripped by the turtle’s jaw.
The only downside of the ping pong pack is that they are softer than normal ping pong balls.
This means that if you decide to use them for a real ping pong game and not as a turtle toy, you may end up disappointed because they don’t bounce that well.
However, these balls are sturdy enough to survive a turtle bite from time to time.
In its essence, the Hol-ee Roller Puzzle Ball is a dog toy ball that also happens to be suitable for pet aquatic turtles.
I know it sounds unbelievable, but turtles can sometimes act like dogs and share similar entertaining activities.
This puzzle ball has an option for different sizes and colors too.
Made from soft, non-toxic rubber, it makes for excellent entertainment in a home turtle tank.
The ball is safe for your turtles, and it guarantees that they won’t be harmed, whether they choose to swim after it or bite it.
If you have a younger or smaller size turtle, make sure to get the smallest ball available.
Otherwise, your turtles might ignore it or lose interest in playing with it quickly, due to the size of the ball.
What I found to be a very successful game with this ball is to stuff it with some sort of tasty turtle food.
My turtles would go rampant on the ball, trying to eat through the holes.
It’s fun to watch them do it, and it keeps them very active for a while.
The glowing bath toys are my Red-eared slider’s personal favorites when it’s time for games.
Especially the shark one, as he seems to enjoy it more than the rest.
I suspect it might be because of the blue color, as some turtles seem to be attracted to it.
Anyways, these bath toys are coming in eight different shapes and colors.
They are safe for children, as they are made from non-toxic plastic.
Evidently, they are also safe for my turtles because it’s been more than a year since I got them.
I know for a fact that almost any aquatic turtle is keen on playing with those bath toys.
All of them have batteries, and once I placed them in the tank, they automatically lightened up, which drew my turtle’s attention.
Some days he really likes chasing the toys around on the top of the tank, and some days he just watches them calmly from his basking spot.
I did remove them from the tank after playtime at first, in order to save on battery life.
However, after 5 to 6 months it won’t really matter because the batteries will die out and there’s no way to change them.
The only thing I was not happy with was the battery lifespan on two of the toy figures.
They lasted around a month, although the description says three months.
It’s not a big deal anyway, since the rest of the toys did pretty well for about 6.
The first thing you will notice about that product is the fair amount of positive reviews it has.
If you are an aquarist with an established saltwater fish tank, you will know what a powerhead is and why it’s so important for your saltwater fish.
Even if you are new to the hobby, sooner or later, you will stumble across a powerhead.
Here’s a quick summary:
An aquarium powerhead is a device that creates artificial flow inside an aquarium. Powerheads are mainly used in marine reef aquariums.
Anyway, the powerhead is beneficial for both fish and turtles, as it recreates their natural habitat by moving the water, creating mini streams, and helping the circulation of the water.
This powerhead is coming with all you need to install it right away – magnet suction cups and instructions.
Anyhow, at this point, you probably ask yourself why I’m listing this product as a turtle toy.
It’s not a toy in the real sense of the word, but if you add it to your turtle tank, you will nail two birds with one stone.
It will help the turtle filter to keep the water clean by providing better circulation.
It will also entertain your pet turtle because turtles like swimming in mild flow sometimes.
Don’t forget turtles are coming from places with a natural water movement and some of them love to sit and enjoy the flow.
Sometimes for hours. If you want to enrich your turtle habitat, you can’t go wrong with a powerhead.
Get the 265 GPH powerhead as it is the weakest one and install it in your turtle habitat.
Monitor your turtle and see if it likes the flow or not.
7. Live fish and shrimp as prey
Water turtles consider everything that appears in their tank as food and try to chase and taste it.
For this reason, you could introduce some live shrimp or fish to your turtle tank as a source of food.
However, if you are looking for a turtle companion, think twice.
Every moving object is a potential snack and will be tested if it’s suitable for lunch.
Although there are some cases in which a turtle adopts smaller aquarium fish, I still haven’t seen long term success with this setup.
Larger fish are sometimes safe, but you’d need a larger tank and the right kind of turtle for that.
Of course, it also depends on the temperament of your turtle pet as well.
Some turtles don’t pay any attention to the shrimp, and some show strong hunting instincts.
If you want to keep your pet turtle entertained with live prey, then ghost shrimp are a good option.
They are tiny and run fast when attacked.
Ghost shrimp stand a decent chance of surviving most turtle attacks and multiply fairly fast.
Also, Ghost Shrimp eat freshwater algae and in turn will make your turtle tank look cleaner.
Anyway, if you choose to add fish to your turtle tank, avoid goldfish, minnows, carps, and some catfish.
Apart from the possible parasitic infections, these fish contain a particular enzyme called thiaminase.
When ingested by a turtle, it can interfere with a turtle’s metabolism and cause muscle pain.
Also, make sure there’s plenty of hiding spots for the fish or shrimp.
This will help the population survive longer and therefore keep your turtle entertained for longer.
Different types of plants and decorations make great hiding places.
Suitable fish for a turtle’s aquarium are some smaller guppies and tetras.
The idea of Zoo Med’s floating log is pretty much the same as with their floating turtle feeder, except instead of turtle food your actual turtle goes inside when it wants to.
This type tank enrichment will stimulate your turtle’s inside explorer which is actually good for their mental health.
Mentally stimulating pet turtles includes anything that makes them work their brains and explore, ideally for a treat at the end of some kind of puzzle.
Just like a comfy hollow log that floats on the surface.
Anyway, from what I’ve seen with this floating log, curious turtles would try to conquer it inside-out.
Some will try to climb on top of it… others will go inside and stick their heads out through the openings.
This is one toy I’d confidently say will grab your turtle’s attention (and I’m aware how bold that sounds).
If you’re already getting excited about getting this new form of turtle tank enrichment there’s one final thing you need to know.
You’d want to consider your turtle’s size when getting Zoo Med’s floating aquarium log.
For young, smaller turtles or babies you’d want to get the Medium size log. That’s turtles of up to 2.5 inches.
If yours is larger than that, and potential up to 5 inches in length, then you’d want to get the Large Log version. That’s something like the length of adult male Diamondback Terrapins.
Sticking within these recommendations is essential for the success of this turtle toy!
Are toys necessary to keep a turtle happy?
We all want our pets to be happy and healthy, and that’s why we think of different ways to achieve this.
When it comes to turtle happiness, a basking area with decent heat and UVB lamps, clean water, and good food are the basics.
However, just like humans, the turtles might get bored with such a calm way of living.
That’s where an entertaining toy comes into play.
Toys unlock your pet’s curiosity, keep them physically active, and provide some fun time.
It’s really cool to watch turtles chasing balls or trying to get their food from a fish feeder by biting and pushing it around!
Anyway, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment if you have any questions.
Which ones are OK for turtles to play with?
The toys pet turtles play with should not be poisonous to them, and should not be too small as to cause a choking hazard for the animals. Anything outside of these categories can be a great toy for your turtle.
Will a pet turtle really play with one?
Every turtle has a different personality but, in general, an attractive toy in the tank will grab the animal’s attention. The best toys are the ones that stimulate your turtle’s instinct. These are usually colorful hollow objects that can be stuffed with turtle food. That being said, any new object in your pet turtle’s tank can become of interest to the animal.
How to keep a pet turtle entertained?
The best way to keep your turtle entertained is with toys like ping pong balls or other new objects that the turtle could explore. Novelty peaks the curiosity in most turtle. That being said, keep in mind that not all turtles will immediately become interested in their new toy. Give them time.
What items do turtles like having in their tank?
Toys can entertain your pet turtle in its “free time” but they’re not as essential as a basking area with a good heat lamp, for example. If your turtle feels bored it will probably just bask throughout the day. Other than that, I’d say the thing turtles like having in their tank the most is food…