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Can Leopard Geckos Swim? Or Is It A Bad Idea.

A photo of a leopard gecko in its terrarium.

At some point in time you may have though about making a little pool for your leopard gecko. Somewhere for it to play around and cool off if necessary.

However first you need to ask the questions, can leopard geckos swim?

Well in this article I am going to be answering that question and letting you know if leopard geckos should be allowed near water. The answers may shock you!

Can a leopard gecko swim?

First off lets answer this question before we go any further.

So can leopard geckos swim? The answer is no, leopard geckos are not able to swim, instead they float. Unfortunately they are not natural swimmers so attempting to can lead to drowning, stress and also other health problems. You should not try to make your leopard gecko swim or give it the opportunity to try as it is dangerous.

That answers the main question, leopard geckos do not swim. Next up I want to talk about the reasons why and also give you some safety tips.

Do Leopard geckos like water?

The thing about leopard geckos is that they do not like water but it is essential to their survival just like all living creatures.

Leopard geckos are from very dry, hot and arid environment in the wild so they scarcely come across water to navigate. So in their natural environment they do not need to swim. If there is no need for them to swim in their natural environment they will not be born with the ability to swim.

It is just like throwing a new born baby in a pool (do not do this), they are not born with the ability to swim and would just sink and drown.

Of course though leopard geckos do need some moisture. They need to drink, they like to have their tanks misted and they use water to thermo regulate. More about all of those later on in this article.

So the bottom line is that leopard geckos do not like pools of water as it is not natural to them. However they do need water to survive.

The risks of trying to make your leopard gecko swim.

We have talked about how it is a bad idea to try to make it let your leopard gecko swim but I want to tell you some of the reasons why as it will make more sense then. With that in mind below is what can happen if you make your leopard gecko swim.

Risk of drowning.

Because leopard geckos are not natural swimmers and in actual fact can’t swim they will just float on the surface of the water.

The thing about floating is that it is hard to do it for a long time. Eventually they will get tired or completely panic. This will cause them to stop floating and instead start sinking.

As leopard geckos cannot breathe underwater they will obviously drown if immediate action is not taken.

Elevated stress levels.

Stress in leopard geckos can be very dangerous and lead to life threatening conditions which will really decrease your pets potential lifespan. If you would like to read more about it check out this article that I wrote.

It really is not good for your little friend to be stressed and this is exactly what will happen if you try to get it to swim.

The leopard gecko is not a natural swimmer, it does not know how to swim and as such will go into survival mode. Just like fight or flight.

This is a highly stressful situation even if you are on hand to help your Leo. It really is not worth the risk.

Temperature changes

Leopard geckos have the ability to thermoregulate which means that they can adjust their body temperature using the environment depending if they need to warm up or cool down.

If the Leo is forced into the pool of water it can wreak havoc on this system. The water could be to warm or to cold and you would not know.

This can seriously harm the leopard gecko and cause it to become quite sick. It is kind of like forcing a change of temperature on your pet when it is already at the right temperature.

Respiratory problems and infections.

As mentioned above cooling or warming your leopard gecko when not necessary is dangerous.

If it gets to hot or cold it can cause it to become weak and tired and this stops the immune system from working effectively. Many reptiles are susceptible to respiratory infections and leopard gecko are no different.

If their immune system is not functioning effectively it is far easier for them to catch an infection. Making them swim puts them at a much greater chance of catching one.

What water do leopard geckos need?

Leopard geckos may not like swimming but just like all other living creatures they do need water.

Below are some of the ways that leopard geckos like water and need water.

Drinking water.

This goes without saying really but leopard geckos do need to drink water.

However believe it or not a leopard gecko gets most of its fluids from its foods. It is still a really good idea to to keep a small drink bowl in your Leo’s tank. This way if it gets thirsty it can get a drink.

Make sure to regularly check the water dish though as they can sometimes end up kicking their substrate into it.


In general leopard geckos do not need their tanks misted very much like some other species of pet lizards.

Sometimes though it can be beneficial. There are times when you need to get the humidity right or if you are trying to help it shed its skin.


Now don’t confuse bathing with swimming! Sometimes when your leopard gecko is struggling with shedding its old skin you may need to bathe it in a shallow dish of water.

This creates humidity that can help to work off the dry old skin.

If you would like to read more about how to bath your leopard gecko safely have a read of this guide that I wrote.

The video below shows a leopard gecko bathing, notice that the water is not deep enough for it to have to swim or float.


Unfortunately you will never witness your leopard gecko going for a swim. It does not know how to swim and it is pretty dangerous for it to try.

leopard geckos are awesome pets that have amazing little personalities and if you want to keep it happy and healthy keep it away from water.

I hope this guide has helped some of the questions that you may have had.