Turtles often use small balls and shells as toys, pushing them around with their noses and kicking them with their feet. Although finding toys specifically made and marketed for pet turtles may be difficult, a turtle can often entertain itself with items such as floating logs, statues and rocks sold as tank decorations. Even water filters tubes may get some attention from a playful turtle.
Like many animals, turtles can use play to practice survival behaviors such as hunting and fighting. Although the use of toys by turtles is not well documented, a captive turtle in the National Zoo has been reported to have reduced the self-mutilating behavior of scratching its own skin after the reptile was given a variety of toys to play with, such as basketballs, hoses and sticks. The turtle was observed pushing the basketball around with its nose and interacted with the objects 20 percent of the time, which researchers believe is an unusually high figure for an animal.
In addition to the availability of various toys, periodic changes in a turtle's environment often benefits the reptile, giving it something to investigate and keeping it entertained. Turtles have a habit of swallowing small objects, so a turtle's tank should only contain items that are too large to fit in its mouth and are made of nontoxic material.