Can (And Do) Chameleons Swim?

  • By: Reptilia Planet
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Can Chameleons Swim? – The chameleon is a fascinating creature. They are able to change colors from light to dark and can even blend in with their surroundings. However, there is one question that many people ask can chameleons swim?

You see chameleons are mainly land-based reptiles and will have a hard time staying in water for any length of time. So can Chameleons Swim? The answer is yes, but there are limitations.

If you have a pet chameleon it’s important to give them the chance to get wet every once and a while and the way to do this would be to give your chameleon a shallow dish of water to swim in.

Just make sure the water is no higher than one inch deep. That way your chameleon will be able to get out of the water easily without struggling.

Do Wild Chameleons Swim?

Although it is rare to see wild chameleons swim it’s not unheard of. Chameleons will swim if they are trying to avoid predators. They will also use swimming as a way to cool down in extreme heat.

However, they won’t be able to swim far and will tired quickly. Chameleons that do swim will typically only stay in the water for a few minutes before climbing out and drying off on nearby rocks or vegetation.

For the most part, Chameleons that end up in the water may try to swim if there is danger around them. However, swimming will be extremely difficult for them and for some it could end badly. 

Depending on where you live if you see a chameleon in the water your best bet would be to help get them out as soon as possible as they will most likely be struggling.

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Do Chameleons Like To Swim?

In most cases, They do not like to swim and will try their best to get out of the water. However, chameleons have been known to enjoy being sprayed with water from time to time.

But this is more so done as a way of cooling off rather than being submerged in water!

If you’re wondering can your pet chameleons swim then chances are that they will not be happy about getting into the water. Chameleons are more comfortable around land and would much rather be exploring their natural surroundings.

However, there are some chameleons that will enjoy getting into the water for a quick swim like when they’re in captivity or if it’s extremely hot outside.

Just make sure not to let them stay in longer than expected as this could end badly for your pet chameleon.

Can Chameleons Swim Underwater?

Although chameleons can swim if they have to, they cannot swim underwater. chameleons are able to float on the surface of the water and paddle their legs for movement but they have no chance of swimming underwater.

Chameleons are just not designed for swimming and will tire easily. Plus, since chameleons are cold-blooded they cannot stay in the water for too long without their body temperature changes which can be dangerous.

Chances are that even if a wild chameleon falls into the water it won’t swim underwater either as this is not natural behavior for them to do so.

Chances are your pet chameleon may try to swim under the surface but it’s likely he/she would quickly get tired from doing so.

What Type Of Swimming Strokes Do Chameleons Use?

To begin with, when a chameleon starts moving in order to move forward or backward they use arm strokes much like humans would use while swimming. Chameleons also use their long tails to help with swimming as well.

When a chameleon needs to turn left or right they will use their front arms and legs in order to do so.

Chameleons also like to keep their head above water when swimming which means that there is no risk of them drowning even if the surface of the water is only an inch deep.

How To Tell If Your Pet Chameleon Is Uncomfortable In The Water?

When it comes to whether or not your pet chameleon is okay with being submerged in water, there are a few telltale signs that will let you know if he/she needs help getting out of the water.

Telltale Signs That They Don’t Like The Water:

  • Trying Climb Out
  • Sinking In The Water
  • Gasping For Air

If they’re trying their best to climb up any surface available then chances are they need some assistance immediately.

Another sign would be when you notice them sinking underwater and coming back up gasping for air which means your chameleon is not enjoying it.

If this is the case you should take the chameleon out as soon as possible before something bad happens. Even if your pet chameleon enjoys getting into the water every now and then that they will not want to stay submerged for too long.

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Are Chameleons Good At Swimming?

No, they are not good at swimming and will tire easily. Most chameleons are not designed for swimming and struggle to swim for longer than a few minutes.

So again if you see a chameleon struggling to swim the chances are they will need assistance getting out of the water as soon as possible.

The best way to do this in the wild is to find a tree branch that they can use to climb out of the water. After that, just lift them up into a tree and let them do the rest

Can You Teach A Chameleon To Swim?

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to teach your chameleon to swim as this is not a natural behavior for them and they won’t enjoy being submerged in water.

Even if a wild chameleon falls into the water, there’s no guarantee he/she will know how to swim underwater so tread carefully and always make sure you supervise your pet chameleon when they are in the water.

If you have a pet chameleon it’s best not to let them swim in the water as it’s dangerous for them and they’ll tire easily.

Why You Shouldn’t Put Chameleons In Water?

Although we say chameleons can swim this doesn’t mean you should let them! When a chameleon is in the water this can cause all kinds of problems and it can definitely put a strain on their health.

Even the best swimmers can tire quickly and if your chameleon is not used to swimming it will be even worse. Here are some pointers to think about when considering putting your chameleon in water…

Can Weaken Their Immune System

Chameleons are cold-blooded and if they’re in the water for too long their temperature will drop which can be dangerous. This also means that chameleons won’t have as strong of an immune system since they’ll constantly be struggling to stay warm.

Can Catch Colds Or Pneumonia

When your chameleon has a weakened immune system there are also at the risk of developing colds or worse “pneumonia” which can be fatal! This can be a huge problem and they should seek medical attention from a vet asap.

Chameleons Are Arboreal

Chameleons are arboreal animals which means they’re most comfortable in trees and not on the ground. If you put a chameleon into water then their world will be turned upside down by this new experience and may feel agitated, stressed out, and uncomfortable!

Is It Safe To Give Your Chameleon A Bath?

Yes, it is safe to give your chameleon a bath but not in the way we humans have baths. We recommended that you spray your chameleons with water and not place them in the water itself.

However, with that said, chameleons don’t need to bathe so it makes no sense in bathing them.

If you really want to give your chameleon a bath, then as before it’s best to use something like a plant mister instead of submerging them in water.

Although chameleons can swim it’s not recommended you put them in water or that you even let them have a bath.

If your pet chameleon accidentally falls into the water then be sure to help him/her out immediately and lift them back up into a tree where they’ll feel safer.


So after reading these blog posts about ‘Can Chameleons Swim?’ it is evident that chameleons are not designed for swimming.

If they get into deep water, chances are they will drown if their head cannot stay above the surface of the water which means you should never leave your pet chameleon unattended around any body of water larger than a small puddle.

Chances are even if your pet chameleon enjoys getting wet every now and then he/she will not want to stay submerged in deeper waters due to them being cold-blooded which can be dangerous for them over time.

Make sure when you’re at home or out on walks with your pet that there aren’t any bodies of water nearby just in case something happens!

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