can you play with red eared slider

Can you play with Red Eared Slider Turtles

Red-eared slider turtles, are a popular species of turtle found in the wild and kept as pets. They are an attractive reptile with distinctive red markings around their ears, and they have been a part of the pet trade for many decades. The appeal of owning a pet turtle is understandable; they are fairly low maintenance, long-lived animals that can be fun to watch and interact with.

Red-eared slider turtles are one of the most popular pet turtles in the world. They are attractive, friendly and can provide hours of entertainment for turtle owners. People often wonder if they can actually play with their red-eared slider turtle or if it is just a decorative pet. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of playing with your red-eared slider turtle and provide some tips on how to interact with them safely.

How To Play With A Pet Turtle?

Turtles are not social creatures. They do not prefer company. This simply does not mean that they do not get bored. Like other social animals, your turtle will also be happy if you play with it. So, you must be wondering what games you can play with your pet turtle?

A pet turtle likes to play in its tank as well as outdoors. You can play with your turtle in its tank by placing an obstacle maze, rafts, empty shells, plants, and sticks inside it. You can also make a play area outdoors where you can make a water pool or arrange a race to play with your pet turtle.

Now that you know your pet turtle enjoys having some fun let us discuss the various games that you can play with your pet turtle. We will be discussing these games in 2 main parts: the indoor games and outdoor games.

Indoor Games That You Can Play With Your Turtle

First, the indoor games. Given below are some things that you can place in your turtle’s tank to make it an interesting place to play with your turtle indoors:

Obstacle Maze: This is the most common game that is widely played by pet owners to keep their pets engaged. You can make an obstacle maze in the tank. To make it more interesting, you can keep your turtle’s favorite treat at the end of the maze to lure it into the maze. On seeing the treat, your turtle will try to find a way to reach it. It will be a sort of fun activity for your turtle as well as you.

  • Empty Shells and Rafts: Turtles like to play with an empty shell. You can also place small rafts in the tank. Your turtle will enjoy playing with the empty shells and rafts in the tank.
  • Plants and Sticks: To make it even more interesting, you can keep plants and sticks in your turtle’s aquarium. Your turtle will try to climb on the sticks and engage itself. This activity will relax your turtle.
  • Decoration: Like humans, a turtle also likes to see a different environment. You can occasionally decorate your tank. Your turtle will keep gazing at the changed habitat. You can decorate the aquarium once in every 3-4 months.
  • Gravel Substrate: Turtles like to dig in the mud. So, you can provide your turtle with a textured gravel substrate in its tank. Rummaging is natural to a turtle, and your pet turtle will love it.
  • Live Fish as a Game: You can place some live fish or insects in the aquarium. The fish and insects will act as live food. Your turtle will relish them. The effort that your turtle will put in searching the live food will be a game in itself. At the same time, it will be a great source of exercise for it and will help in sharpening your turtle’s brain too.
  • Caves and Hides in the Tank: If you have a big enough tank, you can make a cave-like place for your turtle. This cave will act as a secure place for your turtle. Also, your turtle will love this secluded place to play and hide. Hides can also be placed in the aquarium. To make it more fun, you can have it in different sizes, shapes, and colors. It will give a different and attractive look to your aquarium, and your turtle will love a more colorful habitat to play inside.
  • Toys for Playing: You can use ping pong balls and duckies as toys for your turtle. You can simply put them in the aquarium, and they will float on the water. Your turtle will enjoy playing with them. Similarly, you can make use of floating logs as well. It can be used as a hiding place by your turtle. Providing a place to hide in the aquarium will reduce the stress level of your turtle. These toys are easily available in the market too.

Okay! That was all about the games that you can play with your turtle inside the aquarium to keep it engaged.

Turtles do not like to be handled and so they prefer to play on their own. Even if you have a big aquarium for your turtle, it will still need extra space to exercise and play. So, now let’s see the games that you can play with your pet turtle outdoors.

Outdoor Games That You Can Play With Your Turtle

Given below are some games that you can play with your turtle outdoors:

  • Water Pool: Turtles enjoy playing on land as well as in water. Given an opportunity, they like to swim in a big water pool. You can occasionally make a bigger water pool in the backyard for your turtle. Your turtle will enjoy swimming and playing in a bigger pool as compared to the aquarium. It will be fun for your turtle. However, you should always design fun and play area keeping in mind your turtle’s needs.
  • Turtle Race: We all enjoy running and racing. How about arranging a race for your turtle? Your turtle will also enjoy a race. You can take your turtle outside in the yard or garden and organize the race. Two or more turtles will be absolute fun for racing. If you have a single turtle as a pet, you can always ask your friend to bring his or her turtle, and they both can have a race. You can go a step ahead and make a runaway for your turtle by using sticks or stones. It will be fun for your turtle.
  • A Walk Outside: Foraging is a natural instinct for turtles. In the wildlife, turtles forage a lot to find food for themselves. You can take your turtle outside in the backyard. Your turtle will simply roam outside and enjoy the time. Turtles love to bask. Along with a walk, your turtle will get the much-needed sunlight as well, which is necessary for its growth. However, you need to constantly keep an eye on your turtle so that it does not go too far and lose its way.

Okay! Now that you are well aware of the games that you can play with your turtle, you should keep certain things in mind.

What Do Turtles Like To Play With?

  • Turtles are not social creatures. Hence, they do not prefer to play with their owners. Similarly, turtles like to play with plants and sticks. If you have plants or sticks inside the aquarium, turtles will engage themselves by trying to climb on the sticks. This activity helps immensely to relax the turtles.
  • Turtles also like to play in the mud. They dig the mud while playing. Rummaging is natural to turtles. So, you can provide them with textured gravel substrate in their tank.
  • If your aquarium is large and has caves inside it, turtles will love it. Turtles can play inside the cave and also rest there when tired.
  • They even like to play with toys such as ping pong balls and duckies. If you put these balls inside the aquarium, they will float on the water. Your turtle will have a good time playing with the balls and duckies.

Turtles love toys! There are many things turtles enjoy playing with. There aren’t many turtle-specific toys out there, but you can use many other objects.

  • Shells – Turtles love playing with empty shells. These are great natural toys for chasing, flipping, and investigating.
  • Rafts – Your turtle will also love it if you put a small raft or other floating objects in their tank. They can sink them or push them around the tank.
  • Small kid toys – Any brightly colored kid’s toy can be a fun turtle toy, as long as there aren’t any parts that can come off easily. Your turtle will enjoy pushing the toys around and moving them about the tank.
  • Rocks, sticks, plants – Turtles are naturally curious, so any objects you include in their tank will become something for them to investigate and play with.


Given below are the various things that turtles like to play with:

  • Turtles like to play with empty shells and rafts. You can place small rafts and empty shells in the tank for them to play. However, this does not mean that they dislike playing at all. They prefer to play alone and have a good time.

Things To Keep In Mind While Playing With Your Pet Turtle

Given below are some crucial things to remember while playing with your turtle:

  • You should always remember that your turtle will take time to learn the activity games. It needs adequate training in learning the tricks. So you should not rush things and be patient with your turtle.
  • Fun is good till the time it does not hurt. While playing with your turtle, the safety of your little one is of utmost importance. Therefore, the playing activity should be designed in such a way that your turtle does not get injured while playing.
  • The most important thing, you should avoid teaching any hard tricks to your turtle. Expecting a lot in a short time will unnecessarily stress your turtle and can prove fatal. You should always keep it simple. This will make sure that your turtle enjoys its pleasure time.
  • Turtles do not like to be handled too much. They always prefer to keep their distance while playing. So, do not unnecessarily touch your pet turtle. However, you can occasionally pat on its back for comforting it.
  • As part of playing, do not put your turtle on its back. It will hurt your turtle. Also, do not try to forcibly draw it out of its shell if it does not seem interested in playing.

Environment for playing red eared slider Turtles:

Your turtle’s environment is also a great way to enrich their day-to-day lives. Turtles like to play with whatever you leave around, so you can use their habitat as an enrichment center.

  • Gravel and sand – Turtles love digging. You should have an area in their tank for them to dig. Gravel is a great way to keep your turtle entertained. You can even bury a treat for them to dig up.
  • Plants – Live or plastic plants give your turtle a place to hide. They can be easily changed out for a quick switch in the environment that is sure to be noticed by your curious turtle.
  • Rocks or caves – Like plants, different rocks or caves can give your turtle a place to hide and feel safe. They are also easy to rearrange for a quick habitat upgrade.
  • Decorations – Your turtle can see outside their tank, so changing up the decor around it will give your turtles something new to see. You can put new plants outside their tank or hang a new poster on the wall behind it.
  • Outside – Some turtle owners like to take their turtles outside for some time in the grass and sun. This is perfectly fine to do in warm weather, but make sure you keep an eye on them so they don’t escape!

Why Is Enrichment Important for red eared slider turtles in playing?

Providing your pets with different stimuli and activities keeps them from getting bored. A bored pet is often a destructive or unhealthy pet. Enrichment is what makes a pet’s life full and interesting.

Most pets can become stressed or depressed when they are bored. This leads to bigger health issues and an overall unhappy animal. We have pets because we love and care about them, so we need to make sure we do everything we can to give them a full life.

For turtles, enrichment activities can include a wide range of things from toys to environmental changes. Without them, turtles have been known to  demonstrate signs of depression and illness. Lack of enrichment can also leave your turtle more susceptible to infection and injury.

Frequently Asked Questions:

The best toys for a red-eared slider are the turtle skateboard, a floating turtle feeder, floating logs, roller balls, and bath toys.

Turtles are arguably the cutest of all of the reptiles. Because of this, they are often desirable pets. However, turtles don't really enjoy being handled and petted the same way other domestic animals do.

Keep the water clean using a filter and weekly water changes. Provide heat with a daytime basking light and a submersible heater. Allow exposure to UV lighting during the day. UVA light encourages natural behaviors while UVB light supports overall health.

Like other pets, they never run towards you or give you a warm hug. Turtles usually show affection to their owner by following them around with their eyes or head. If you walk in the room, an affectionate turtle will immediately start to follow you with their eyes.


In conclusion ,red eared turtle sliders can make wonderful pets for both adults and children who are willing to dedicate time and effort into their care. They may require more maintenance than other common pet species, but the beauty of these turtles as well as their unique personalities make it all worthwhile. When considering a red eared slider, be sure to do your research – such as housing requirements, diet, and health concerns – so that you can provide them with the best living environment possible.

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