Can Crested Geckos Swim?

Crested geckos have grown in popularity immensely over the past several years, and for good reasons.

These are affordable, docile, and beautiful pets, capable of living upwards of 20 years with proper care and maintenance.

But, if you’re not familiar with these animals, you probably deal with a lot of unknowns in terms of care, habitat layout and parameters, and, most importantly, their behavior.

In this article, we will discuss a rather interesting topic regarding the geckos’ physical capabilities and behavior.

Can crested geckos swim?

Crested geckos can swim for long periods of time if necessary, however, they are not prolific swimmers. Their tails are laterally compressed, which helps them to move through the water quickly and efficiently. Crested geckos also have webbed toes, which gives them extra propulsion when swimming.

Geckos are land animals that do enjoy their pool time occasionally. However, don’t take them for amphibians because they’re not.

Geckos only rely on swimming in life-or-death situations or to cool off in scorching heat when nothing else is available.

Can I Put Crested Gecko in Water?

You can put your crested gecko in water, but there’s typically no need for that. Crested geckos don’t have an urge to swim, nor do they need to.

In the wild, geckos only swim when needed since water isn’t really their element.

So, if you’re planning to place your gecko in water, make sure it’s shallow enough for the gecko to also walk on the bottom without having to actually swim.

This will prevent the risk of drowning, which can occur even in more proficient gecko swimmers.

As for teaching your gecko how to swim, this is entirely unnecessary. Even geckos who’ve never had to swim before know how to do it instinctively. All animals are born with innate skills that don’t need teaching since they rank as vital.

That’s where the swimming capabilities fall for geckos, along with climbing, hiding, mating, and other biologically-designed abilities.

Can I Give My Crested Gecko a Bath?

Yes, you can give your crested gecko a bath. I will go even further as to claim that you need to bathe your gecko occasionally.

There are 2 reasons why geckos would need a bath once in a while:

  1. For cleaning purposes – Geckos can get dirty due to accumulating dirt, poop, food leftovers, and other organic matter on their toes, tails, and bellies. These can eventually cause crusts that will impact your gecko’s movement and comfort, produce a foul smell, and even cause infections in the long run. A warm bath involves cleaning the gecko with a soaked piece of cloth instead of immersing the gecko in water. Just hold the reptile gently and clean any dirt deposits, careful not to disturb the animal.
  2. For shedding purposes – Adult geckos shed approximately once every 4-8 weeks, depending on their age, health, and growth rate. Things will go smoothly, generally speaking, but then you have situations where they don’t. Sometimes, the gecko will experience impacted shedding, where the skin will get stuck on various body parts. The tail, legs, and toes are more common. In this case, placing the gecko into a DIY sauna for 5-15 minutes at a time (depending on your gecko) is key in aiding with the shedding process.

Other than that, geckos don’t need bathing recreation like other animals do, including humans.

They won’t need much, so long as they have adequate temperatures and humidity and they have a water bowl at their disposal.

They will mostly use it for drinking water, but may occasionally wet themselves as well.

Why Is My Crested Gecko Laying in Its Water Bowl?

It’s uncommon for crested geckos to just lay in their water bowl, but it’s not unheard of either.

Some geckos will resort to this behavior, and there are many theories regarding why geckos do it:

  • Heat problem – If the terrarium temperature is too high, the gecko will seek to alleviate the problem and cool off. Geckos will usually dig into the substrate in these cases or look for cooler areas around their habitat. If these are not viable options for whatever reason, they may sit in the water bowl for some cooling effect.
  • They simply like the water – I’ve said it many times – geckos differ in personalities and behavior. Some will like water more than others. While they won’t necessarily swim or play in the water for too long, they will seek the water’s comfort more often than most geckos.
  • Pooping business – Yes, some geckos love to poop in their water bowl. It’s a messy business, but there’s little you can do about it. It’s quite an advantage if you think about it since the poop will all be concentrated in one area rather than spread out throughout the habitat. So it’s easier to spot and remove.
  • Looking for food – I have no idea how this works or whether it’s actually a genuine explanation, but I’ve seen it being theorized around different forums. Some people claim that geckos lay in their water bowl when hungry and looking for food. Try it out and pass the information on if it checks.
  • Mite-related discomfort – Leopard geckos tend to lay in the water instinctively when experiencing mite-related discomfort. These skin parasites can be quite pesky, so the gecko will instinctively try to drown them this way. The same problem may apply to crested geckos, so be on the lookout for that.

Overall, don’t get worked up over your gecko laying in its water bowl longer than necessary. It’s most likely due to it looking for a cooling space.

Check the temperature, scan the gecko for skin parasites, and look for poop in the water. If everything’s normal, your gecko may simply be one of those water lovers.

Do Crested Geckos Need a Swimming Pool?

No, crested geckos don’t need a swimming pool. I agree that a swimming pool would look positively smashing in a lush gecko terrarium and that the reptile swimming will make for a cure show.

But the gecko doesn’t need all that fuss. Not to mention, a swimming pool is just an opportunity for the gecko to drown, and I’ll throw the dice and say you probably don’t want that.

An even more important point – forcing your geckos to swim can stress them out. As I’ve already explained, geckos only swim when forced by various circumstances.

Finding themselves in those circumstances repeatedly will stress them out, and we all know how dangerous prolonged reptile stress is.

Can Crested Geckos Drown?

Yes, crested geckos can drown with relative ease, might I add. That’s because they’re not quite built for swimming, so the activity will drain their energy fast.

So, if you’re forcing them to swim too frequently, they might tire out and drown as a result. I advise only providing them with a shallow water bowl so they can have a drink occasionally, but avoid pools.

Geckos will spend most of their time elevated on a branch, plant, or hanging from the terrarium’s walls anyway. They have no use for your pool.

Can Crested Gecko Live in a Paludarium?

Paludariums have gained a lot of popularity lately thanks to the bio-active setting and the life diversity they allow for.

I would say that geckos can thrive in a well-designed paludarium with a few mentions:

The Paludarium’s Size

Paludariums are typically vertically-spaced and consist of 3 main areas: water, land, and canopy.

So, it’s safe to say that a well-designed paludarium can get quite large, which is less than ideal for geckos. Geckos will actually get stressed out in a large environment since it hinders their ability to find water and food.

So, the ideal paludarium size should revolve around 20 gallons for one crested gecko. I agree that this isn’t enough space for a well-designed paludarium, but it’s better to prioritize your gecko’s health and comfort above everything else.

You can also have several geckos packed together, provided they have sufficient space to prevent territorial fights.

The Antisocial Behavior

Antisocial might be a strong word here because geckos aren’t exactly antisocial. But they aren’t too social either.

So, placing them in a larger paludarium along with a variety of other animals is a sure way of stressing the gecko out.

Crested geckos aren’t good at interacting with other animals since they will view everyone as intruders.

At most, you can pair crested geckos with other crested geckos, so long as they’re all females. Gecko males are bound to fight and even kill each other due to their territorial aggression.

The Inadequate Setting

If geckos are second-class inhabitants in the paludarium due to the habitat being designed for other species, they might have problems with integration.

For instance, it’s less than ideal to set up the paludarium for turtles which require more water. The excess water will stress out the gecko since this is a land and canopy-dwelling animal.

So, if you are setting up a paludarium, limit the water content considerably to appease your gecko’s predilections.

In short, you can make a paludarium work, provided you brainstorm the issue a bit.


Geckos are not adept swimmers, but they can swim their way out of trouble if necessary. For the most part, they only need a limited amount of water, usually only for drinking.

Don’t force your gecko to swim since this will most likely stress the lizard out, and then you’ll have a variety of other problems to deal with.

avatar William
William is a respected pet enthusiast with expertise in reptiles and birds. With extensive experience caring for these animals, he shares his knowledge through engaging and informative articles in various publications. He is an active member of pet-related organizations, volunteering regularly at shelters and promoting animal welfare and conservation. read more...

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