Can Leopard Geckos Swim? They Might, But They Don’t Like It.

Leopard geckos are so incredibly interactive with their owners. For many, the big personality packed into their tiny body is what makes them such fantastic companions. 

As reptile keepers, we are always looking for ways to improve and enrich our reptile’s experience, not only for them but for us, as it is fun and rewarding to observe and in essence “hang out” with our little scaly friends.

This often poses the question of what activities are safe for our pets, and what will be something enjoyable for them rather than just adding extra stress.

Swimming is very stressful and dangerous for your leopard gecko. Though they may be able to keep their head above water for a little bit, they would just be trying not to drown and would not enjoy nor benefit from the activity.

How swimming fits into the natural life of a wild leopard gecko

To put it simply, leopard geckos would never be caught swimming in the wild, especially of their own volition. 

Leopard geckos are terrestrial animals, living on the ground and in burrows in traditionally dry climates.

Therefore, swimming would not only be unlikely due to their natural behaviors but also because water is scarce in their habitat. There would be little to no chance of them even having a body of water to swim in in the first place.

Would swimming be enriching and/or beneficial in captivity For Leopard Geckos?

Since leopard geckos naturally live in the desert, they haven’t evolved the necessary adaptations to live near water. They lack things like webbed feet or the level of buoyancy that other lizards can have.

Because of this, swimming is not ideal and would be extremely stressful for your reptile which runs a severe risk of them drowning. 

Reptiles would only really swim as a survival mechanism so as not to drown, so it really would not be enjoyable at all.

When do geckos need water?

Leopard Gecko on top of water dish

Your leopard gecko should always have access to clean and fresh water. A shallow water dish is perfect for this, just make sure to change out the water if it gets dirty.

It should also be at least long enough and wide enough for your gecko to crawl inside and soak when they need to.

It is important to use a water conditioner for your reptile’s water, as it will remove chlorines and chloramines that can be considered harmful to them. 

It also contains essential electrolytes to help keep your reptile healthy and promote the good function of their body systems.


Leopark Gecko soaking in water

When your leopard gecko is shedding, it can be beneficial to soak them in very shallow water that has been treated with a reptile-safe water conditioner. 

This can aid in the shedding process and is a routine practice for many seasoned reptile keepers. Some even recommend twice a week, especially for individuals who are reluctant to drink enough.

Soaking is also great for newer leopard geckos that could have been at an expo or shipped in the mail, as these conditions can leave them needing some water.

A shallow soak once in a while also can help with things such as mites, due to the water drowning and killing them, which can greatly reduce irritation in newer reptiles in addition to any veterinarian-recommended treatments.


Could I be giving my gecko too much water?

There are not very many scenarios where a reptile will become overly hydrated, however, having too much water creating a humidity level that is out of healthy range can be a problem. Good ventilation tends to help with this, such as secure screen lids, along with other forms of ventilation throughout the enclosure.


Being able to acknowledge your reptile’s natural habitat, and applying that to their needs in captivity can be a great skill when determining good habits for keeping them happy and healthy.

Though not everything is the same between the wild and captivity, such as receiving love and attention from our human counterparts, we as reptile keepers are responsible for making sure that their environmental needs are met. 

Remember: there is not one perfect way of doing things that fits every scenario, so doing some mild experimentation can be beneficial to find what works best for your lifestyle and the personality of your leopard gecko.

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