Can Leopard Geckos Swim? Read This First!

  • By: Reptilia Planet
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Because the leopard geckos are native to dry desert areas of Afghanistan, Iraq, and northwest India they don’t spend much of their time around water, unlike the geckos that are native to the rain forest. This brings us to the question can leopard geckos swim?

No! Unfortunately, Leopard geckos cannot swim, however, they can run across the water much like the famous Basilisk Lizard. There have even been reports that geckos can run at speeds of one meter per second over the top of the water.

If your planning on placing your pet leopard gecko in water then you should do this in shallow water to prevent them from drowning. Also, you need to think about the water’s temperature.

Placing your gecko in water that’s too hot or too cold can also put stress on the reptile which could lead to health problems. It’s recommended that you use water that’s at room temperature.

Do Wild Leopard Geckos Swim?

Leopard geckos spend most of their time around dry parts of the desert, however, they will seek out water, because as we know all reptiles need water to survive.

With that said, When geckos eat a lot of juicy insects they can retain some moisture which can help keep them hydrated while looking for a water supply.

Leopard geckos do not require water that often since they eat a lot of these insects like worms and grubs that are naturally moist that provide plenty of juices.

However, when geckos in the wild are thirsty they will usually seek out and drink from small puddles of water. They will never swim in deep water nor have there been any reports of geckos going for a swim.

“But” there have been some reports of geckos soaking themselves in shallow water to help shed their old skin”

Geckos can have a hard time shedding their skin and if scratching themselves against a rock fails then they will take a dip in a small puddle and use the moisture from the water to help with the shedding process.

Being that Leopard geckos are native to the desert, the climate can get extremely hot at times. As a result, these geckos will also use water to adjust their body temperature by lying in a small puddle.

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Running On Water

We all know the geckos can walk on walls, and glide through the air “but now” there have been reports of geckos running across the water much like the famous Basilisk Lizard.

The basilisk lizard is commonly known for its amazing ability to run across the water, getting its nickname (the Jesus Christ lizard). The gecko does this in a similar way.

Scientists are still trying to explain how this tiny reptile has the ability to just simply run across the water at such high speeds. However, they do have some theories…

Researchers have discovered that the gecko combines up to four strategies giving them the ability to run across the water.

Because geckos have web feet this works to their advantage and slapping their feet on top of the water creates air pockets that prevent them from completely submerging.

Scientists have also noticed that geckos have water-repellent skin and it’s suggested that this is how the reptiles can skim across the water very easily.

Geckos also use their tail to give them speed, combined with their web feet this is how they are able to glide across the water at such high speeds.

Do They Bathe In Water?

Yes! Leopard geckos do occasionally bathe in shallow waters and as mentioned above, they usually do this to either help with the shedding process or to bring their temperature down to a comfortable level.

If you have a pet leopard gecko and you’ve seen him lay in their water bowl then this could be the gecko simply trying to cool off. If this is the case then you should check the lights.

“It could be that the lights are generating too much heat and simply needs adjusting”

Also if your thinking about letting your gecko bath in the water you can do this, however, it’s very important that you check the temperature of the water first preferably the water at room temperature.

When laying your gecko in the water make sure it’s shallow and they are able to stand up. Although geckos have the ability to run across the water “they cannot swim” and placing them in deep water can be very dangerous to their health.

Always keep an eye on your reptile when placing them in or near water. Even if this water is shallow, you should always watch them and make sure they are comfortable bathing or even being in the water.

If your gecko shows any stress while in the water then this is a clear sign that they don’t like it and you should remove the gecko from the water immediately. As before, Any stress on the reptile could lead to health problems.

Do Leopard Geckos Like The Water?

So do Leopard geckos like the water? Well, this can be a hard one to answer. Yes and No! The reason being is some geckos will avoid water unless absolutely necessary.

“As we know geckos need to drink water in order to stay hydrated and as previously mentioned they will bathe in shallow water to help with things like shedding and body temperature “but” generally, they will try to avoid the water.

However, with that said, If a gecko is scared or being chased by other predators then it will go into deep water to try and get away, shown in the video above.

The bottom line is leopard geckos prefer staying in dry, warm areas and will avoid wet environments if they can. Pet gecko on the other hand that has been raised around water by the owner will feel much comfortable going for a dip.

Dangers Of Letting Leopard Geckos Swim

So as we have mentioned throughout this article geckos cannot swim and if you still want to set your gecko in some water or want to teach them how to swim then there are some dangers you need to be aware of before you do this.

The dangers of letting your leopard gecko swim are as followed…

  • Temperature
  • Drowning
  • Stress


Now, the first thing that would come to mind when placing your pet gecko in water is drowning right? when in fact the first thing you should be aware of and very careful about is the temperature of the water.

Placing your reptile in water that’s warm to us humans can actually be quite hot to the gecko and the same goes for cold water.

By not checking the temperature of the water first can shock the gecko when in the water that could lead to health issues. Water that’s at room temperature should be fine for the reptile.


When placing your gecko in the water there’s a very high chance that they will drown. As mentioned already, Geckos can’t swim they run on water and if they stop or are in a confined space with no room then they will drown.

The way to solve this problem is to place the gecko in shallow water making sure it’s at room temperature.

However, with that said, you should never take your eyes off the reptile just in case anything goes wrong, at least then your by there to rescue your pet.


The next thing you need to think about is the stress of your reptile. When placing your gecko in water and it shows any stress then you should remove them immediately.

Now, the gecko can show signs of stress from any of the dangers already mentioned above whether that’s the temperature of the water or the water being too deep.

When geckos or any other reptiles for that matter get stressed this can cause serious health issues which could lead to your gecko passing away which is the last thing you want.

If they show any signs of stress be on the safe side and remove the gecko from the water.

The typical adult leopard gecko can go three days without water and this is mainly due to the insects they eat that can provide moisture for the reptile.

When giving your pet gecko water it’s recommended you use De-chlorinated water. Tap water unfortunately is not filtered nor as healthy and lacks nutrients & minerals geckos require in their diet.

Geckos in captivity should always have access to clean drinking water. A lack of water can lead to dehydration or worse, so always make sure their water bowl has been topped up on a daily basis.

“A gecko can go for a maximum of three days without water any longer and they will not survive”

If you’re going out of town for more than 3 days then you should leave your gecko with a friend or family member just to be on the safe side. If you can’t do that then you should consult with your local vet.

Can Leopard Geckos Swim

Lizards Similar To The Gecko That Can Swim

So, we now know that leopard geckos can’t swim, however, are there any other lizards similar to the gecko that “can swim in the water” without any trouble?

Yes! there are, these lizards listed below that can not only swim but run across the water like the gecko. So here are just a few examples of some reptiles that can run and swim…

Water Dragon

The water dragons inhabit Southeast Asia and stretch all the way to Australia. they mainly live in the trees and by the shores.

The slight sign of danger and the dragon will flee to the waters for safety. These lizards can swim very well and use both their feet and tails use a swim.

Sail-fin Lizard

Sail-fin Philippine lizards are slightly larger than basilisks and are excellent swimmers and like the gecko and basilisks lizards are able to run across the water.

They do this by using their flattened toes which gives them the ability to run across water at high speed very similar to the mighty gecko.

Basilisks Lizard

Basilisks use the water to escape from danger if approached or stoked by any predators, and like the gecko, basilisk lizards can literally run across the surface of the water.

There’s even been a report of basilisks diving to the bottom of the water to hide from predators they are incredible swimmers, and can their breath for at least 30 minutes at a time.


So there you have it! Can leopard geckos swim? No! they can’t swim “but” they can run or glide across the water. However, as mentioned they only do this as a last resort.

Generally, leopards geckos are not fond of water as they prefer hot dry areas. The only time geckos really go near water is to hydrate, or to help with things like shedding or their temperature.

Although the idea of watching your gecko run across the water does sound good and makes you curious to see this first hand, it can be very dangerous.

Placing your reptile in water for the first time could put stress on your pet which can have a huge strain on their health. The bottom line is leopard geckos are not a big fan of water and really you should avoid putting them in the water.

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