As a turtle owner, you want to keep your turtle happy at all times. You want to know ways in which you can keep your little friend happy, and what items you can put in their tank to make them happy. We researched some information about keeping your turtle happy and found interesting details that we’ll share with you in this article.
You can make your turtle happy by providing them with a comfortable living environment with a spacious tank, clean water with the correct temperatures, a basking spot, live plants, and some aquarium decorations. Feeding your turtle a proper diet and providing them with toys and live food to keep them mentally stimulated will also ensure your turtles stay happy.
Our full guide below will take you through everything you need to know about keeping your turtle happy, whether you own an adult or a baby turtle. You’ll learn what to put in their tank to make them happy, how to tell when your turtle is stressed, what activities turtles like to do for fun, and other helpful information.
How to make a turtle happy?
Keeping your turtle happy usually boils down to giving them a comfortable habitat, cleaning their tank regularly, feeding them a balanced diet, and putting various items in their tanks that make them happy and comfortable.
Here are the main tips for keeping your pet turtle happy:
Mind their tank space
The first step to making your turtle happy is ensuring you provide them with adequate tank space. The rule of thumb to remember is that you should get 10 gallons of tank space for every square inch of your turtle size.
For instance, if your turtle is 7.5 inches long, you should get a tank with at least 75 gallons worth of space.
Why is space important? Turtles love a space where they can move freely and explore their surroundings. Adequate space will enable them to swim, play, and bask compared to cramped space. Plus, they need plenty of space to grow.
Keep the tank clean
Another way to keep your turtle happy is to ensure its habitat stays clean at all times. Turtles are generally messy creatures and will poop in the water as well as leave uneaten food inside the water. This means their tank can get dirty easily.
And if you fail to clean it, it will become a breeding ground for bad bacteria which can harm your turtle’s health and make them dull. Ammonia and nitrite levels can also go high and these can harm your turtle’s health. A sick turtle is an unhappy turtle.
That being said, you need to ensure you invest in a powerful filter system for your tank to get rid of all the turtle waste and keep the tank water clean. You should also do particle water changes at least once a week and full water changes every 2 weeks.
Separating the turtle’s feeding and swimming area will also help keep their tank clean for longer.
Feed them a healthy diet
Turtles are omnivorous and should be fed a proper diet (balanced and nutritious) to keep them active and happy. Make sure you give your pet a variety that contains different minerals and vitamins.
Besides giving them commercial foods, make sure you feed them insects and veggies as well. If your turtle loves eating fruits and flowers, be sure to provide them as well.
Basking time is essential for a happy turtle
You should also make an effort of providing proper lighting for your turtles to bask under. Turtles usually require UVB and UVA light to keep them healthy.
Just make sure you get quality bulbs from your pet stores that provide adequate lighting for your turtles.
The right amount of lighting will enable your turtles to bask throughout the day. Plus, this light is capable of killing germs and bacteria that can make your turtle fall sick.
Get your pet some toys to play with
Getting your turtles will also help make them happy. Turtles in the wild are generally hunters and foragers and giving them toys will help them stay connected with their wild hunting instincts.
Look for toys that are ideal for their size and easy to move around, e.g. empty shells for small turtles or medium size corn shells for medium to large turtles.
You may also consider putting a wooden raft in the water for your turtles to push around.
Let your turtle exercise regularly
Even if you provide your turtle with a spacious tank, you should still give them some out-of-the-tank time so they can cover more ground to walk and exercise their body. Exercising will help them to get rid of stiffness and stretch.
You can schedule to have your turtles out of the tank on a weekly or twice every month. And when you get them out of their tanks, you should accompany them during their walks to ensure they remain safe. Plus, you should choose safe grounds for them to walk to minimize potential dangers.
If it’s not convenient to get your turtles out of the tank, consider providing them with snacks in form of live food such as crickets, mealworms, live fish, shrimp waxworms, etc.
This will force your turtle to hunt the food and in the chasing process, they’ll exercise their body and keep fit.
How to make a baby turtle happy?
You can make your baby turtle happy by providing them with a hospitable habitat, just like in the case of their adult counterparts.
Make sure you offer your tank plenty of turtle space and keep the water inside the aquarium clean and at comfortable temperature levels. You should also ensure the turtle has a basking spot for drying off, sunning, and resting.
Be sure to provide your baby turtle with a healthy diet as well. Since the young turtles are growing, they require daily feeding. They’re also more carnivorous and will prefer animal proteins to veggies.
Other ways to make your baby turtle happy: provide them with toys for playtime, get them out of the tank to walk and exercise, and provide them with live food to enable them to excise inside their enclosure.
What to put in a turtle tank to make it happy?
If turtles can express themselves, they’d definitely prefer to play with various toys/items rather than play with you. This is because these creatures don’t being handled. That said, below is a list of items can you put in their tank for them to play with and make them feel happy:
- Pet turtle toys: Your turtles will no doubt enjoy playing with toys such as duckies and ping pong balls. Simply put them in the tank and they’ll float on the surface so your turtle can start playing with them.
- Make an obstacle maze: You can make your own maze using items such as plants stones, sticks, pits, etc. Then, place your turtle’s favorite meal at the end of it. The idea is to make your turtle figure out how to go through the maze to reach the treat. Sounds fun, right?
- Get some empty shells: Turtles also like playing with empty shells. The shells easily slide across the floor and your pet turtle will have fun chasing them.
- Wood rafts: You may also place small wood rafts in the turtle tank. Turtles will push these rafts inside the water for fun.
- “Find the treat” game: This game involves hiding your turtle’s favorite treat inside its tank and letting them find it. As you can easily imagine, your turtle will go crazy trying to find the meal and when it does, it gets rewarded with the delicious treat!
- Let them dig: Turtles like digging, so you may also consider introducing textured gravel substrate in their tank.
- Consider changing the tank décor: Changing the décor around your turtle habitat once in a while can also make things appear more interesting in the pet’s habitat.
- Introduce tank mates: Introducing other tank mates in your turtle tank is also a sure way to spice up their day-to-day life and make them happy. You may consider adding shrimp, snails, insects, live fish, tadpoles, etc. Just make sure you don’t add your prized pets as the turtle may end up eating them.
You don’t have to put all the above items in your turtle tank at once. You can choose to play one game with your turtle this time and then play the other one the next time. This will help introduce a variety of games and items to play with, keeping your little friend happy.
How do you know if a turtle is stressed?
A happy and healthy turtle is always moving around inside the tank, exploring its habitat, and even basking. If your turtle is hiding all the time and you rarely see it, then that’s a sign that it could be stressed and unwell. A turtle trying to escape its tank could also be an indicator of stress.
But keep in mind that hiding is normal for turtles at times. For instance, your turtle will hide if you just introduced it to a new sink. But if the animal continues hiding for a long time, then this is a sign that everything isn’t alright and you should get concerned.
Additional signs to look out for in a stressed turtle include loss of appetite and lethargy.
The stress could be due to poor tank water conditions, low temperatures in the water and basking platform, poor diet or insufficient food, other pets around the house, loud noises/vibrations near the tank, and rough or excessive handling.
What do turtles like to do for fun?
There are many things turtles like doing for fun. These include swimming, eating, foraging, playing with toys, basking in the sun, and racing, to name but a few.
The good thing about most of these activities is that they don’t require you to spend a lot of money.
When selecting toys for your turtles, make sure you go with those that are appropriately sized for them. The toys should also not have sharp edges or something your turtle can easily get caught in, e.g. wire mesh.
This means you can easily create plenty of opportunities that will keep your turtle from getting bored.
If you have a box turtle, then you should know that it also likes digging in addition to the above activities. Thus, providing it with an appropriate substrate for digging inside its tank will make them happy.
Turtles also enjoy chasing live food inside their aquarium. Consider introducing live animals in their enclosure e.g. small frogs, small fish, mollusks, clams, tadpoles, mealworms, crickets, grasshoppers, etc.
Turtles enjoy hiding, so you should also consider covering their tanks with plenty of hiding spots.
If you own a box turtle and want to keep it happy, make sure you provide it with a large enough enclosure for it to comfortably roam around and explore. Also, keep the temperature inside the enclosure at a comfortable level.
You should also provide your box turtle with a healthy diet that includes insects, small animals, fruits, and vegetables.
If possible, introduce hiding places inside the tank where your box turtle can hide and feel secure if it feels stressed or scared. Don’t forget to take your pet out of the tank regularly so it can walk and exercise.
Turtles generally don’t like to be petted, so you’d want to keep handling to a minimum for your pet. We advise you to handle your pet gently but in a secure manner so it doesn’t slip or bite your hand. Don’t grip your turtle tightly, put it on its back, grab its tail or try to force it out of its shell.
Keeping your turtle happy is all about ensuring they live in a comfortable habitat. Provide them with a spacious tank space where they can freely swim, move around, and play. You should also keep their tank clean and maintain the temperatures at comfortable levels. Ensure they have a great basking platform and provide them with healthy and fresh food to keep them happy.
Other ways you can keep your turtle happy include adding toys into their tank, playing with them the various games described in the above guide, and letting them out of the tank regularly to explore and exercise. If your turtle species likes being petted, you can also pet it to make it happy. But be gentle with your turtle as these reptiles generally don’t like to be handled.