Do Pet Tortoises Need Toys

Do Pet Tortoises Need Toys?

It is well known that boredom in dogs can lead to destructive behavior and stress. But what about reptiles? Specifically, tortoises in the case we don’t want to leave our tortoises with anything to do just to see how they react. So do tortoises need toys just like dogs?

Tortoises need toys or items within their enclosures that offer variety to keep boredom away as boredom can lead to stress. Logs, rocks, hides, and bathing dishes can keep your tortoise engaged, along with substrate that allows them to burrow will lead to a healthy body and mind leading to a longer life. 

We don’t just have to give our tortoises a clean enclosure to keep them happy tortoise toys can help keep their minds healthy. Tortoises that are board can become stressed more than destructive like dogs would. Stress can lead to illnesses that will sadly result in a shorter life. 

Let’s take a look at some valuable tips on keeping a tortoise mind healthy. 

Do Tortoises Actually Play?

The whole thought process of tortoises playing is a shroud in controversy. On one side of the argument, you have people who believe tortoises don’t get lonely and are fine living a lonely life. Then you have the other half who believe tortoise have a high level of thinking and need to be stimulated to avoid boredom.  

I’m personally in both courts, but I don’t feel I am sitting on the fence, so hear me out. First tortoises are solitary reptiles in the wild, and they seem pretty happy with this, only coming into contact with others to mate. However, they have a big place to explore and roam to keep their mind active.  

In captivity, your tortoise doesn’t have such an area to keep them entertained. When adding different objects (toys) to my tortoise’s enclosure, I have witnessed them enjoying and interacting with them.

Sure my tortoises don’t show the excitement that a cat or dog shows when they get a new toy, but there is an engagement with the toys.  

I love to hear others take on this, so I asked around tortoise communicated that I interact on. The response was a little overwhelming, with some turning into the most significant discussions. The vast majority say that adding toys to their tortoise enclosure appears to make them tortoises happy and appear to play with the toys. 

What Do Tortoises Play With?

If you are still reading to this point in the article, you more than likely agree with many other tortoise owners and me that tortoises can and do like to play. Great, your on your way to becoming an excellent tortoise owner who will have many happy years with your tortoise. 

Ok, that sounds great, but what on earth do tortoise play with?

Tortoises are not all the same, just like any other reptile or animal, so what one tortoise may or may not like will be vastly different. That is fine; our job as owners is to find out what our tortoise loves to play with to keep a healthy mind. Trying different things over the coming months will allow you to find what your tortoise likes.

Some of the things that are well worth trying with your tortoise include: 

Climbing Tortoise Toys

I remember when I first got my tortoise and found my tortoise perched on top of their hide. The scariest thing was when he nosedived off the top, rolling onto his shell. This led to me researching Is It Dangerous Finding Your Tortoise on its Back? 

It is not as scary anymore seeing my tortoise’s climb; in fact, I encourage them to, as they appear to me to love doing it. However, Unlike my hide, I make it a lot more safe to carry out this activity so easy access on and off items I put in.

I wanted to replicate the wild in their enclosure as much as possible, and here are some items I include which are found in the wild.

Flat large rocks are perfect for climbing making sure they are secure and only gradually rise and fall. With these rocks, you may notice your tortoise sleeping on them as the stones can take on heat and become warm. 

Tree stumps or small branches are commonly found in the wild that tortoises will navigate and climb. Again make sure they are no big drops. I also like to move these around. Moving them around will dramatically change their environment and keep their mind active.   

Other Climbing Objects 

Suppose you are going to buy store-bought items. I recommend that you purchase items that closely represent things found in the wild. There are many items on the market today for tortoises, and one good point about them. Are they are much less likely to carry any external parasites as a tree stump may do. 

You don’t have to buy items or go hunting for rocks around your garden to give your tortoise something to climb on. Things like upside bowls and small pans are all items tortoises will attempt to climb. There are many items in the home that your tortoise will enjoy the challenge of climbing. As responsible tortoise owners, we need to make sure they can break the item and eat it. 

Tortoise Love Hiding Places

There will be people who say hiding is not actually playing and just an instinct to a tortoise. While there is some truth in this, we don’t entirely agree when I was a child; I played hide and seek. I don’t remember anyone saying this was not playing and when a tortoise hides, why can’t this play? Of course, if your tortoise is feared of something them hiding in this instance will not actually be them playing. 

Evey tortoise table should have a tortoise hide but if you have a tortoise who loves to hide, then adding other items for them to hide in is a great idea. There are many different hides on the market for tortoises, but we can go beyond these with a bit of thinking. 

Small shrubs and grass make excellent hiding places for your tortoise. I often find my tortoise in the middle of a grass shrub that I have on my tortoise table. 

If you on a small budget, an upside ice cream carton with an end cutoff will make an excellent hide for your tortoise. Just be mindful that any small part that breaks off can become a choking hazard if it starts to break down. 

As we said in items to climb, small logs make great places not only to climb on but hide under. 

Tortoise Food Treat Toys

Despite what many think, tortoises love food and can become obese and cause them many problems. We should avoid overfeeding our tortoise at all costs, but food can be a great way of getting you moving. More familiar with dogs, but we can make our tortoise a treat toy. 

Get a plastic water bottle or a ball and make some holes that are large enough that food will fall out of. Fill the item with food that you decided to use, making sure some food is sticking out of the holes.

As your tortoise comes to take a bite, the ball or bottle will roll away from your tortoise. It will make it much more challenging for your tortoise to get its treat; my tortoise loves watermelon (in moderation).   

You don’t want to make getting the food too difficult as this can lead to stress, which will be counterproductive. However, don’t make it too easy, and your tortoise will enjoy the challenge of getting their treat. 

These toys are very common with dogs, and I found the idea on a tortoise forum, and my tortoise appears to love the challenge. 

Digging Spots In Their Enclosure

Tortoise loves to dig and what makes them excellent escape artists, and why we need to secure our yards when they are outside correctly. Not all tortoise will dig, but most tortoise at some point will be driven to burrow. I have one tortoise that just loves to burrow itself into the substrate in the enclosure. 

Tortoises not only dig and burrow for play but to regulate their body temperature. I feel my tortoise digs for play as the temp is perfect in my enclosure. 

Some substrates lend themselves better dor digging than others. Dirt is an excellent substrate if you have a tortoise that loves to burrow. You will need to make sure that your dirt is not too wet, as this can lead to shell rot. Also, to dry like sand is bad as it can cover your tortoise face, not allowing them to breathe. 

If you don’t use a soil-type substrate in your tortoise table, an idea would be to dedicate a deep soil corner. Allowing your tortoise to dig, and if they are disinterested in digging, you can simply take out the soil. 

Pebbles Pushing 

I first must point out that you don’t want pebbles your tortoise can eat as they can be a choking hazard. Seeing your tortoise push a pebble around the enclosure is such fun, and it appears tortoises love to do it. Some tortoises will simple scatter pebbles all over the enclosure others will pile them up.   

Having a large enclosure so your tortoise can move the pebbles around will be needed. Also, offering different shapes and texture pebbles will also make the play more enjoyable to your tortoise. 

Scavenger Food Hunt

A friend told me about this one and one I never did to very recently. I have heard of the scavenger hunt but with dogs. 

Scattering the food in the tortoise enclosure and hiding treats underthings will keep your tortoise on their toes. It is thought to be a mental stimulus and calm overactive dogs for dogs, so why not with tortoise. 

When I tried this with my tortoise, they seemed very happy hunting for their food. It is not something I would do all the time, but I will keep it up. Don’t forget food rots and makes cleaning hard, so make sure you remember where you put the food so you can clean it up. 

Tortoise Bath Toys

Bathing your tortoise should be a regular part of your routine care. Some tortoises will love a bath while others will hate the proccess; for some, the simple bath will be a great play.

The tortoise who don’t like to bath adding some toys like a rubber duck or floating ball so they can push it around will be a great stiulas. Your once reluctant bather can soon become a tortoise that loves its time in the water. 

Other Activities Tortoises Enjoy?

While all the different things we have offered above are great, there are other ways to offer your tortoise enrichment. Offering your tortoise games and different activists will keep your tortoise’s mind and body healthy, which will all mean long healthy life.,

Extra activities you can try:

  • Shaping food into a tower with a treat on top as your tortoise eats away the tower they get the treat at the end. 
  • Warping a strawberry in some kale leaves will give your tortoise a puzzle and keep their mind active. Will there be a treat in the next wrap of kale. 
  • Turning your tortoise table into a maze with a treat at the end of the maze.
  • Some tortoises will love to interact with their owners. Strawberries should only ever be fed in moderation, but they are excellent pieces to get your tortoise to interact with you. 
  • Some tortoises will enjoy chasing a ball. I know this may sound crazy, but give it a try and go for a bright color. 

As you can see, it is all about making your tortoise think a little, and any slight change should do that. Tortoises are very clever, and little things such as wrapping treats will make your tortoise very happy. 

Bond With Tortoise Over Toys

Don’t listen to the people who say you can’t interact with your tortoise; right, your tortoise will not interact like a dog. However, bonding with your tortoise with treats and food can bring your tortoise out of its shell (no pun intended).

Make the activities fun and relaxing with rewards, and you will soon see your tortoise is more eager to see you. Boding with a tortoise should not be forced, but simple rewards will make the whole process much easier. 


You are not going to be able to force your tortoise to do anything, let alone play. So, take your time trying different things that we have suggested. You should find something that your tortoise likes to play with.

Some tortoises will not be bothered with “playtime” this doesn’t mean we are bad owners; it’s just their personality.