Can Leopard Geckos Swim? (Is It A Good Idea?)

Can Leopard Geckos Swim?

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Leopard geckos are not strong swimmers.  While some gecko species can swim or walk on water, leopard geckos are small desert dwelling reptiles and are used to a dry environment. They do need drinking water, though prefer to be on dry land rather than in the water.

The Dangers Of Letting Your Leopard Gecko Swim

Since leopard geckos are not avid swimmers, there are dangers if they are in a position where they may be in water.  Leopard gecko owners should be aware of the risks. 

Risk of Drowning

The largest and most critical risk for leopard geckos in water is drowning.  Since they are not adept swimmers and their bodies are not adapted for swimming, there is a likelihood of death by drowning, and nobody wanted a dead gecko.

Elevated Stress

Swimming is not natural for leopard geckos, and they typically do not like being in water; especially deeper than an inch or so where they cannot touch the bottom or have their head above the surface.  The threat of drowning is enough to stress out any creature, especially a small one that can’t swim.

Can leopard geckos get wet?

Leopard geckos can get wet; water droplets will bead up and roll off a leopard gecko’s skin.  Moisture can aid the process of shedding their skin, and it’s recommended to have a moist hide available for this purpose.  

That said, there is a difference between “wet” and “submerged.”  Wet or moist is okay from time to time.  Submerged is dangerous, especially for extended periods. Your leopard gecko will need help if submerged.

What if my leopard gecko falls in the water?

If you find your leopard gecko has fallen in the water, immediately take it out of the water and gently pat it dry with paper towels (if it’s calm enough.) Return it safely to its enclosure and let it find the spot in the tank where the temperature is most comfortable. 

How long can a leopard gecko be underwater?

Ideally, a leopard gecko would never be underwater at all.  That said, accidents happen.  A leopard gecko may survive underwater for a minute or so.  Should your leopard gecko fall into water, you’ll want to help them out of the water as quickly as you can.

Do Leopard Geckos Need Water?

So, if leopard geckos can’t swim, should they be around water at all?  Here are a few things to consider in regards to exposing your leopard gecko to water:

Leopard geckos need drinking water

Like any living creature, leopard geckos need to drink water to survive.  You should always have fresh water available in a shallow container.

Leopard Gecko Drinking Water

Sometimes your leopard gecko may walk through the bowl, or even sit in it for a short time. The water level should not be deep enough that the gecko would be underwater if it wandered into the bowl.

As long as as there is not a risk that the gecko may fall into the bowl and not be able to get back out, getting a bit wet in a water dish is fine.  

Water may help leopard geckos with shedding

Like most reptiles, leopard geckos will regularly shed their skin.  Moisture helps the old dry skin come off.  A humid hide, or moist hide, is suggested to aid in the shedding process.  Some reptile owners will also mist their gecko or tank to help in shedding.

If your gecko has stuck skin that did not come off during shedding, you may need to give your gecko a bath in warm water to help loosen up the skin.  Keep in mind the gecko’s entire body should not be under water, even during bath time.  You can read more here about how to safely give your leopard gecko a bath.

Do Leopard Geckos Like Water?

Leopard geckos drink water to survive.  I wouldn’t expect a leopard gecko to willingly put itself in danger by getting into a pool of water it cannot walk right back out of.  

Why Is My Leopard Gecko Sitting In The Water Dish?

You may occasionally find that your leopard gecko is sitting in its water dish.  One reason is sheer curiosity, especially if your gecko is just settling in or if the dish is new.

Another reason a gecko may choose to sit in a water dish is temperature regulation.  If the tank temperature is too hot, the water may help cool the gecko down.  Check your temperatures and make sure you have a gradient across the tank so your lizard can self regulate its body temperature

Related Post: Find more about proper tank setup and temperature.

Wrap Up – Can Leopard Geckos Swim?

The leopard gecko is not a natural swimmer, and would prefer not to be in a position where they need to swim.  Never let your leopard gecko in deep water where it would not be able to simply walk back out to safety.  On the rare occasions for bathing leopard geckos, they should be held and supported while in the water.

Leopard geckos do need drinking water so they do not get dehydrated and develop serious health issues.  Shallow dishes are best for providing drinking water. 

Keeping your gecko safe around water will keep them healthy, happy, and active!

About the author

About the Author: H. Evan Miller & Leopard Gecko

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