Can Leopard Geckos Swim? Dangers + Safety Tips

Keeping leopard geckos has become a hobby for some households across the World. What raises questions is whether they behave like amphibians when exposed to water. Though some types of geckos are water-friendly, the fate of pet leopard geckos when exposed to water remains debatable.

Being in the family of lizards, leopard geckos can swim as a form of instinct. The bottom line is that most geckos don’t like water and are likely to jump out of the water as soon as they’re exposed to it. So, what are the dangers of letting your gecko into the water? We’ll discuss that down below.

Can Leopard Geckos Swim?

Can Leopard Gecko swim

Leopard geckos are not adapted to swimming. Instead, they are likely to float. The pets have a mixed relationship with water. They’d love to drink to regulate their body temperature but are scared of drowning. Being a reptile, at times they need a warm environment to maintain their body temperature. Water can make them lose a lot of heat.

Geckos are known to come from areas where water is limited. In that case, they don’t like being submerged in water unless when being bathed or unclogging femoral pores. When you bathe your pet gecko, you’ll want to make sure you do it in shallow water.

  • You should not throw your leopard gecko into your swimming pool.
  • Geckos have no adaptive features to survive in the water.
  • Geckos prefer to drink water to cool down their bodies.

On the flip side, other types of geckos like the Asian house gecko can move across the water at high speed through the half running and half swimming motion. Due to them being lightweight, just like insects, surface tension holds them up. This doesn’t mean you should try it out with your gecko since it may end up drowning.

Most geckos can only drink and soak their bodies in the water but cannot stay longer. Should they be submerged deep in the water for a while, then they will ultimately suffocate and die.

How long can a leopard gecko stay underwater?

Leopard geckos can hold their breath for several minutes when submerged in the water. The reason why they may not survive deep into the water for long is that they have lungs – just like human beings.

Your gecko may die if they stay a little longer deep into the water. The duration may vary depending on the type of gecko you are keeping as a pet. A gecko cannot spend more than 30 seconds deep in the swimming pool. Should that happen then it’s likely to die.

In that case, they can only hold their breath while underwater but can’t breathe. This is why you should avoid bathing your gecko in deep water since it may suffocate.

Note: Geckos are reptiles and should never be confused with amphibians – which can stay underwater, swim, and survive.

READ ALSO: African Fat-Tailed Gecko vs Leopard Gecko: Differences

Risks of putting leopard geckos in water

There are instances when you’ll want to put your leopard gecko in water. For example, when, when bathing or unclogging their femoral pores.


Just like human beings, submerging your gecko in water may result in death. This is because they breathe through the lungs and may not stand being underwater for long.


Not to be confused with amphibians which have adaptive features to survive in the water, geckos are adapted to survive in harsh climatic ecosystems. In that regard, they can easily drown when subjected to deep water either in the bathtub or swimming pool.


High exposure to water may lead to discomfort and can impact the general health of your leopard gecko. The reptiles hate water and too much exposure may affect their general health. They only get into the water to balance temperature and too much exposure may have a severe effect on their well-being.

When Can You Put The Gecko in The Water?

As a pet owner, water plays important role in taking care of your gecko. You can utilize water for your gecko in the following ways:

When removing leftover skin on your gecko

In normal circumstances, leopard geckos shed their skin as they grow. This is not limited to geckos only. When they shed their skins, some skins are always left behind. In geckos, the skin can be seen on the toes and should always be trimmed out. When left unattended, the loose skin may bulge on the delicate toes and obstruct the flow of blood.

As a result, the toes of your gecko may wither and drop off. Any time you come across a gecko that has lost its toes, this is how they may have lost them. Should this happen, just soak the toe in the water to help get rid of the leftover shed.

Treating impaction

Impaction occurs when your gecko ingests something that ends up blocking the digestive system. This happens in the case it eats something larger than the normal size. To dislodge the blockage, simply soak the gecko’s belly in water and massage its belly.

While in the water, rub gently from the tail to the chest. Alternatively, carry out a warm bath for your gecko for a few days to clear the blockage. Should the blockage persist, contact a qualified veterinarian for further assistance.

Unclogging femoral pores

Male leopard geckos secrete waxy substances that contain pheromones from their femoral pores. In some cases, geckos clean them up by rubbing against a rock, wall, or other surfaces.

Unfortunately, if the pores get clogged, they may get infected. This is one of the scenarios that will prompt you to clean your gecko and make you put it in water even though it can’t swim.

A warm soak is ideal to loosen the buildup of wax by gently dislodging it with a cotton swab. Ensure the process is carried out gently to avoid the discomfort associated with the soreness of the affected area.

Unlike amphibians which are physiologically adapted to staying in the water, leopard geckos are reptiles adapted to staying in hot ecosystems. Leopard geckos in particular cannot swim and putting them in deep water is likely to kill them faster than you can imagine.

READ NEXT: Male vs Female Leopard Gecko – How to Tell the Differences

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