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Can Leopard Geckos Swim?

by Lucy

If you’ve just brought home a beautiful leopard gecko and are planning to make its habitat as comfortable as possible by adding a pool into their tank, think again. These creatures come from rocky, dry grasslands and desert regions. 

So, can leopard geckos swim? In short, your leopard gecko doesn’t come from a locale where it may encounter large bodies of water. While they don’t enjoy swimming, they can wade or float if they encounter flooding or need to escape a predator.

Keeping a very large and deep dish of water in your reptilian friend’s cage can be dangerous and result in the drowning of your beloved pet. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look into the subject of leopard geckos and how to set up the water in their enclosure properly.

Do Leopard Geckos Like Water?

It would be a sweeping statement to claim that leopard geckos don’t like water. You can be sure that there will always be the random oddball leopard gecko who will love to hang about their water bowl. But, that is the exception to the rule. 

In general, leopard geckos aren’t accustomed to environments that have an excess supply of water. It is rare to find a leopard gecko relishing, bathing, or swimming around in a pool. But, like all living beings, leopard geckos need water for survival. In the wild, they draw the most water from their prey.

That is to say that leopard geckos don’t often drink water directly. They hydrate their bodies via the food they ingest. However, water is essential for all beings. If your four-legged friend doesn’t get enough liquid from the prey it has consumed, then you can be sure that your leopard gecko will drink from the water dish that you have supplied.  

The common belief among animal behavioral experts is that leopard geckos avoid wet environments whenever and wherever they can. It is widely believed that leopard geckos don’t necessarily like water or wet areas.

Can Leopard Geckos Swim?

The problem is that leopard geckos, much like humans, are different. Each leopard gecko seems to show individual preferences. Now, animal experts can make broad generalizations., but it is impossible to make a reasonably accurate conjecture about whether your leopard gecko will swim or not.

Some gecko parents vouch that their pet loves to float about and swim in shallow bowls. On the other hand, there are many cases where pet guardians claim that their own pet seems to be distressed by water. Other gecko owners say that their tiny friend simply doesn’t understand the experience of being immersed in water.

When Do Leopard Geckos Need Water?

No animal can do away with water. Even if your pet detests getting wet, there are circumstances when your leopard gecko will need to be in the water or in a humid environment. Let’s take a look at some of those instances.

1. Drinking

Even if your gecko hates the sight of water, there’s no escaping the fact that it’ll have to drink water at some point. Leopard geckos get their required body fluid through the food they eat. Sometimes, however, the prey that the geckos consume fails to provide sufficient liquid. 

It is an absolute requirement to have a shallow water bowl in your reptile’s tank at all times. It is also necessary that the water bowl is washed and refilled every day.

If your gecko is frequently drinking water, you should make it a point to make the needed changes in their diet to ensure that your gecko gets the fluids their tiny body requires.

2. Easing The Shedding Process

Leopard geckos are reptiles, and as such, they will shed their skin many times throughout their life. However, there may be times when the old skin doesn’t come off in one go and there can be flakes of skin left behind around the tail and toes.

The shed must be removed gently, as excess skin can cut off blood supply to the toes. Your gecko can end up losing their toes if the blood doesn’t get to the toes at all. However, allowing your pet to soak into some warm water in a shallow bowl can easily remedy the problem.

On the other hand, if your pet really doesn’t enjoy the sensation of soaking in water, you can spray some warm water using a spray bottle to loosen the old skin off your pet’s toes.

3. Regulation Of Moisture

Reptiles need to regulate their body temperature using methods like basking and bathing, as they cannot maintain their body temperature by producing their own metabolic heat. These creatures need to rely on external conditions to regulate the temperature of their bodies. It’s vital that you provide a water bowl for your leopard gecko so they can cool off.

Having a water bowl in your lizard’s terrarium is particularly important when the temperature becomes hot and humid. Your leopard gecko might even soak into the water dish before going off to thermoregulate. Thermoregulation for reptiles becomes easier when there is moisture already on their bodies to cool off.

The Dangers Of Putting Your Gecko In Water

Well, the most obvious result of having a steep water bowl in your leopard gecko’s tank means there is the possible danger of drowning. It is not something that hasn’t happened. Unfortunately, many pet parents have lost their beloved pets to drowning. 

Another imminent danger that your gecko can suffer from is over-soaking, which can cause immunity problems if it is done repeatedly. Also, it can cause stress, and severe stress can cause geckos to drop their tails.

Can Some Geckos Run On Water?

There is some scientific evidence that some geckos can swim quite well. According to a study by senior author, Robert J. Full, an integrative biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, the flat-house-tailed geckos are ‘like superheroes.’ The study showed that the common geckos could stick to walls, glide through the air, and run on water. 

The study’s co-author, Ardian Jusufi, a biophysicist now at the Max Planck Institute For Intelligent Systems in Germany, discovered this newfound talent in a rainforest in Singapore and witnessed several geckos skidding across puddles to escape predators. During the lab experiments, it was seen that these lizards could run up to nearly a meter per second over 8 centimeters of water.

The most amazing aspect of this finding is that the speed of these geckos is faster than most aquatic creatures, such as juvenile alligators and marine iguanas.

Small animals such as insects are light enough to be supported entirely by the surface tension of the water. Large animals that can walk across water, such as the basilisk lizard, must slap the water with enough force and speed to perform the same task. But, the common house geckos aren’t that light, nor have the speed or force of a larger animal to tread water.

Upon closer inspection through videos shot at high speed, it was revealed that the flat-tailed geckos combined all of these tactics to skid over water. The scientists also noticed that the geckos have super water-repellent skin, and the gecko’s skin is an added advantage for being able to skim across the water.

So, it’s true that some common geckos can indeed run on water if need be. However, leopard geckos are not among them.

Final Thoughts

It is certainly recommended that you place a water dish in your pet’s tank. But, it would help if you were sure that the water dish is shallow and wide. It would be even more secure if you were to choose a water bowl with ridges so that your pet can grip onto while it takes a drink. 

Letting your leopard gecko soak into a warm yet shallow water bowl is a good idea. But, it would help if you remembered that geckos come from arid lands, so too much of a good thing can turn bad for your little reptilian friend.

Up Next: Do Leopard Geckos Like To Climb?

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