Do Pet Tortoises Need Toys?

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When I told my friend to buy toys for his tortoise, he gave me a weird look. Well, I do not blame him. Most of the keepers have no idea that their tortoises need a source of entertainment.

In reality, tortoises participate in games for fun, stress relief, and fighting boredom. These activities make them confident and physically fit. You can buy commercial toys or DIY games for the pets. Climbing, hiding, digging, pushing, and hunting are some adventurous plays for tortoises.

Get more details below.

Tortoises & Toys: Do They Need The Entertainment?

What if I say tortoises are smart and intelligent? I know many of you will not take me seriously. Well, recent developments indicate that tortoises can learn new things, and they are capable of being trained.

In my previous blog, I illustrated the whole training program for tortoises. See how these creatures respond to such sessions in this article.

My point here is that every intelligent being requires a source of entertainment. Tortoises are no different.

Of course, by entertainment, I am not saying music or dancing. Instead, doing physical activities and random play that all matter to tortoises. The significance of playing or entertainment for these pets is discussed below,

1. Fight Boredom

Your pets will get bored without any physical activity or entertainment sources. Boredom might lead the tortoises to eat rocks or bite the substrates. Even your tortoise might get sad because of the lack of stimulation in their life.

2. Stress Relief

Well, mental health is a big concern for tortoises. Motivating the creatures to do fun activities and take on new challenges can help them combat stress and anxiety.

3. Self-Accomplishment

Solving a new puzzle or burrowing in the substrate makes tortoises more confident. It also offers them a sense of security and social power.

4. Healthy & Fit

Obesity is common in tortoises. The only way to get rid of the fat is to do physical activities. Playing with toys or climbing the rocks can assist the pets in fulfilling this purpose.

In summary, offering them toys is a better way to keep the tortoises entertained and occupied. Any interactive object can bring joy to these pets. You will often catch the tortoises being engaged with a rock or playing with the logs.

What Are The Fun Toys & Games For The Tortoises?

Of course, your tortoises do not need high-functional toys. Instead, DIYing the living arrangements and offering the pets small push toys are enough to keep them engaged. Some fun toy ideas for tortoises are,

1. Climbing Toys

Well, it may come out as a surprise. But tortoises are excellent climbers. In the wild, these creatures travel from one place to another, climbing out different obstacles.

In reality, climbing is not a tiring task for tortoises. Rather these pets take it as a fun activity in most cases. Therefore, you can arrange climbing equipment in the tortoise enclosure for entertainment.

Climbing comes with several advantages for tortoises. For starters, it counts as a workout session for these creatures. Thus, climbing promotes healthy, fit tortoises and reduces the risk of obesity.

Again, when climbing an obstacle, tortoises stay really focused. They slowly and calmly investigate the barrier and find a way out. The entire task remains enjoyable for the pets.

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You can buy commercial climbing toys or DIY at home. The possible options are,

Synthetic Store-Bought Climbing Toys: Plastic climbing toys are very popular. These products have a natural, rock-like look to offer a wild vibe in the pen. You can go with the grand setup with climbing slopes, bridges, woven branches, and turfs.

Plastic climbing toys are cheaper compared to real rocks. Moreover, plastics are easier to clean, so there is less risk of bacterial growth.

Rocks & Stones: Tortoises are also comfortable around large, medium, smooth, flat, or steep rocks. You may find your pets resting or sleeping on flat stones. Likewise, these creatures choose rocks with gentle slopes to practice their climbing activity.

Well, stones, even with a minimum height, can be proven dangerous for tortoises. The over-excited pets may try climbing the rocks and fall on their backs, injuring the shells. Hence, try to line up the medium-sized, flat, smooth stones so that the tortoises can safely walk or climb on them.

A pile of rocks is also enough to intrigue the pets. In any case, do not add small stones to the toy collection, as tortoises have a name for rock-eating.

Wooden Climbing Toys: Compared to plastics and stones, wooden materials are safe for tortoises. But yes, chemical-treated timbers are toxic and deadly. You can simply put logs, sticks, and bridges for the pets to walk or climb.

DIY Climbing Toys: It is absolutely okay if you do not want to spend money on the toys. You can always modify the home accessories and turn them into a tortoise toy. For example, these pets enjoy climbing logs or timber slopes.

Similarly, place a safe plastic box or a steep bowl (upside down) in the enclosure. You will find the tortoises attempting to climb the containers and having fun.

2. Push Toys

Well, your tortoise is smart and strong enough to push a toy around. This is why balls make excellent fun companions for these pets.

Don’t trust me? Just provide the tortoises with a small racquetball and see how they enjoy the time! These creatures also adore pushing skate ball wheels and medium-sized rocks.

But there is a risk associated with the push toys. As you know, tortoises have sharp beaks that can cut through anything. Hence, it is possible that the pets will try biting the balls or wheels.

Plastics, synthetic materials, and even rocks are harmful to tortoises. These items mess up their digestive system and lead to complex physical illnesses.

3. Pile Up & Maze

Apparently, tortoises love piling up stones. They use their legs to push the rocks and beaks to stock them up.

So, providing tortoises with stones of different sizes, colors, and textures is recommended. Just make sure the rocks are big enough that the pets do not swallow them.

Quick interesting fact!

Tortoises are excellent at solving puzzles. Of course, you can not challenge them with a tough riddle. But these pets are unstoppable at finding their way out of simple mazes.

You can DIY these puzzles for your tortoises or buy one from the store. The pets thoroughly enjoy solving these mazes as their fun activity.

4. Hiding Games

Your tortoises do not exactly play hide and seek. But they have a sneaky nature and sometimes prefer complete solitude. In such moods, tortoises seek a hiding spot to take shelter.

I know tortoises hiding in their shells or running away from humans is not a fun game. It mostly indicates that the pets are stressed or anxious about something. Letting your tortoises be alone at this time is important.

However, for some tortoises, hiding in the plants or between the rocks is not a defense mechanism to outside trauma. Instead, these creatures happen to enjoy the peek-a-boo game. If your tortoise is one of them, provide multiple hiding shelters in the enclosure.

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Plan out a fun hideout for the tortoises by customizing the game. For example, add lighting to some hides while keeping others dark. You can also try adding multiple exits to the cave. Such hideouts will encourage the tortoises to explore and keep them busy throughout the day.

Most owners use the plants as hiding spots for tortoises. Large rocks and upside-down packing boxes or plastic containers also make excellent hides. You can try building the shelters with rocks, sturdy walls, or hollowed logs.

In any case, make sure the hides are strong enough to stand even when pushed or kicked. Buy a commercial rocky cave if you do not want these hassles.

Another thing.

Upgrading to a bigger pen is a must if you plan multiple hides. These shelters can not be congested. Instead, the hiding spots should be spacious so that tortoises feel cozy and relaxed when they explore the route.

5. Treasure Hunting

Tortoises are curious by nature. No doubt! You can use their curiosity to plan a fun game.

For example, half-bury shells or shiny rocks in the tortoise aquarium substrate. Your pet will dig out the object as a free time activity.

Another game idea is as follows. Take any object that intrigues your tortoise. It can be a ball or a big bright pebble.

Place the toy in a safe but hard-to-access spot in the enclosure. The plan here is to make the tortoise chase the toy.

The same game can be implemented with food. For example, put your pet’s favorite treat at the hard-to-reach place and let the tortoise climb the obstacles.

Sticking the treats with a ball is also a good idea. As the tortoise tries to bite the food, the ball rolls away from it. This chasing makes a fun game for this pet.

Likewise, you can hide the treats in lettuce or kale and put the veggies in separate locations. Finding the food will give the tortoises great joy and keep them engaged. You can make the food hides or buy a commercial hole roller for tortoises.

6. Water Games

I know tortoises can not swim, nor are they fans of water. Yet, these creatures enjoy the water activities thoroughly.

Remember, tortoises only get into the water while drinking, bathing, and releasing body waste. So, do not expect them to spend hours playing the water games. Instead, these activities are more suitable for their soaking hours.

Commercial water features with fountains and shallow ponds are available for tortoises. Sure, installing those will make the terrarium look grand. Also, the artificial waterfalls and ripples will amaze the pets.

Well, you can also DIY the water source if you want.

Just take a shallow Pyrex dish and fill it with water. Throw in some small pebbles and large rocks in the bowl. The tortoises will play with the rocks and enjoy climbing during the soaking.

Plant some vegetation in the surroundings of the water dish. It will add a more natural vibe to the pen.

Building a water feature is easier for outdoor tortoises. You can either dig a shallow pool or use a garden tray. Add pebbles and rocks later to the area.

Tortoises sometimes enjoy a bathing ball or plastic duck. They will keep pushing and chasing the toy during the bath. But in such cases, the water area has to be big enough for the pets to move around.

7. Digging Game

Your tortoises are big fans of digging and burrowing. Several reasons can justify the digging nature of these creatures. Such as,

  • Cooling off the heat
  • Stress relief
  • Making their own hides
  • Brumation season is approaching
  • In search of a suitable nest
  • Just for fun

In short, digging serves as a multipurpose action for the tortoises. This is why you must lay the pet’s enclosure bottom with a suitable substrate. Tortoises can enjoy burrowing or digging only if there is thick bedding.

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A dry or muddy substrate is of no use for pets. Instead, sprinkle little water on the bedding to make it moist. It will help the tortoises dig the substrate satisfyingly.

The selection of substrates is crucial. Tortoises have a bad habit of biting and ingesting bedding. Hence, you have to make sure the substrate includes no toxic elements. Dirt and damp moss are popular bedding options for tortoises.

Feel free to buy a dirt box and attach it separately to the existing enclosure. Building a mound inside the habitat will also promote the digging activity of the pet.

8. A Walk Through The Plants

I always recommend building a tortoise garden if possible. The vegetation is not only a source of diet for these pets but also acts as a hiding spot. It means tortoises can play their hide-and-seek games in the garden.

Besides, your pets enjoy a walk through the vegetation. They can munch on the leaves and graze on the grass. Apparently, strolling in an open field is a fun game for the tortoises.

In my previous post, I explained how to build a tortoise garden from scratch. Give the article a read for a detailed guide.

9. Scratching Posts

Scratching is not fun, but it can sometimes relax the tortoises. During the shell and skin shedding, rubbing the body against a rough surface helps the pets relieve the pain. Likewise, scratching the nails and beaks prevents the overgrowth of these parts.

However, scratching the walls with pacing indicates mental illness and anxiety for the tortoises.

Other Fun Activities For Tortoises With You

Do you know owners can bond to their tortoises over games? In fact, tortoises love fun interactive games with the keepers. You can customize the above activities accordingly. For example,

1. Training:

Tortoises tend to respond to positive reinforcements and training. So, you can make the pets learn new tricks like climbing a toy or walking to a certain spot. At the end of a successful task, reward the tortoises with a fruity treat to encourage them.

2. Puzzle & Meals:

As mentioned, tortoises love solving mazes. You can use this nature to make them earn their meals. Simply put the feed at the maze exit and let the pets find their way to the feast. It will make the tortoises confident and give them a wild-hunting feeling.

3. Chasing Game:

Well, of course, your tortoise will not follow you like a dog. But you can make the pet chase your hand when holding a treat. Wear gloves during this activity to avoid getting bitten.

4. Pass The Ball:

Your tortoise is really good at pushing and chasing the ball. Try passing the ball to your pet and see its reaction.

One Big Reminder!

Tortoises are not as social as dogs or cats. So, you can not expect them to passionately get involved in interactive games or regular plays.

Again, tortoises get stressed easily. For example, overhandling or constant cheering can make the pets anxious. So, always look for the red flags and abort the games if necessary.

Some signs of stress in tortoises are,

  1. Spending more time in hides
  2. Running away from you
  3. Snapping at you without any reason
  4. Avoiding meals, etc.

If you notice any of the symptoms, determine the root first. Next, eliminate the toy or whatever is causing the tortoise anxiety and look for an alternative source of entertainment.

Before You Go…

I highly suggest you spend time with your turtles and tortoises, playing or caring for them. These intelligent creatures can recognize their owners and also express their love. Sounds unbelievable? The attached article will clear your doubts.

Can Tortoises Recognize Their Owners And Express Love?

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Muntaseer Rahman

I have been keeping turtles as a pet for many years now. I’ve fallen in love with these cute pets from the moment I saw them. That’s why I am writing articles to share my turtle keeping knowledge with you.

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