I am an Affilate!

I hope you love any product or service that I recommend. :) Just to be clear, I may take a share of any sales or other compensation from the links on this page. If you use my links, thanks, I appreciate your support.

Can Lizards Swim?


Lizards are a perplexing creature, with countless varieties throughout the world. Just by looking at one, you can see that they seem to have a look that they at least appreciate water – but do they live in water? Can a lizard swim, or can it breathe underwater?

As an enthusiast of all things reptilian and proud owner of several varieties of lizards over the years, I’m here to tell you that this question doesn’t really have an easy answer!

Whether you were brought here by curiosity, or by the desire to do best by your pet, or even for some other reason – buckle up, because asking if lizards can swim is like asking what kind of food humans enjoy. You’ll see that the answers are endless, interesting, and wildly variating when you look into specifics.

I’ve put together a few common questions regarding lizards and their abilities to swim (both in and out of water – check out the abilities of the Sandfish Lizard!), and answered them here! Some questions are from pet owners, others are from the curious-minded or those intrigued by lizards. Don’t forget the comment section below for more questions!

Can Lizards Swim? The Longer Version

Lizards are exceptional creatures, especially because of the variety of them that exist – both in the wild, and as pets. If you are looking to find out if your specific pet can swim or not, it’s best to find out exactly what type of breed you have.

When starting out with your pet, remember this rule of thumb: don’t let the water go above the lizard’s shoulders, as the little guy should always be able to choose between walking or swimming.

Lizards have four legs, usually with five toes per foot.

In most cases, this means that they are not only good little runners, but are often quick swimmers as well. There are many lizards that live in the water, but these cases tend to range towards larger, wilder lizards (in other words, not your average house pet).

There are also exceptions, including some lizards who do not like to swim. This can vary by breed in the wild, but also per the individual. For example, Bearded Dragons often like to swim; although, some Beardie owners will find that their little guy just doesn’t enjoy it.

With all pets, it’s important to not force play activities on them that they are ill-suited for, or do not enjoy.

How long can the water Lizard hold its breath under water?

Lizards that live most of their life in water can hold their breath much longer than those lizards that simply live near it. Some exceptional creatures such as the Marine Iguana and the Basilisk can hold their breath in the thirty minute range, allowing them to find food underwater, or escape from predators if needed.

Most lizards, especially those we keep as pets, have a much, much smaller span of time. Always remember, with your pet lizard, that they certainly cannot breathe under water! As mentioned, avoid having a lizard’s habitat set up in a way that the lizard is forced to swim underwater.

Why does the sandfish Lizard swim in sand?

The sandfish lizard is certainly one of the most unique types of lizards that you could ever come across. Their small curl into an S-shape and, with a wriggling motion, actually swim through the sand!

This environmental advantage allows them to escape both the hot heat of the desert and stalking predators by burrowing down into the sand.

Can lizards breathe underwater?

This question is often asked, and while the answer is a bit more complicated, the answer is technically no. The reason that I say that this answer is a resounding no is because lizards can technically drown, even though it does seem unlikely. There is no known species of reptile that is truly able to breathe underwater.

One great example of the confusion that many people find on this topic is the Marine Iguana, mentioned above.

This animal is fully aquatic and even feeds underwater. This is because of its ability to hold its breath for up to thirty minutes, and dive for sometimes over thirty meters. Yet, this animal is still forced to return to land for air.

How well can bearded dragons swim?

When in the wild, Bearded Dragons are actually decent swimmers. Most folks believe that these critters come from the desert when, in fact, they originate from an area in Australia that is populated with soil rather than sand. The Bearded Dragons natural experience with water includes swimming holes throughout the soil areas, in which they can both swim in and drink from.

As pets, some of them do not enjoy the activity – it is very important not to force it upon a pet Bearded Dragon. Get to know your pet as well as you can, taking cues from him or her. There are many ways to learn what your Bearded Dragon needs for a happy life and a safe environment.

Can a chameleon swim?

Chameleons are a common pet, one that is known for their swimming abilities. Their trick is to inflate themselves with air, in order to float on the surface, and then they move by doing what looks similar to a doggy paddle. Chameleons are also a unique creature in that they come from a very wide variety of habitats.

This includes anywhere from deserts to rain forests, and they are typically found inhabiting trees or bushes. While these animals typically live their life at a little bit of a higher altitude (they are climbers!)

, they have the ability to swim for natural reasons, such as seeking out food or to find a mate.

What kinds of lizards live in water and land?

Lizards (Click here to see if Geckos can Swim) truly come in all shapes and sizes, but the one thing that most of them have in common is their high body temperatures. In most lizards, the high body temperatures urge them to seek life on land; however, the majority of lizards tend to stay near some source of water, as they are dependent on it for both breeding

and feeding.

Water is a very important habitat feature for all types of lizards. Many use it as an escape from danger, such as water dragons (click to see why they need such a big vivarium) and basilisks. Each of these tends to live on land, but will dive into a source of water to escape danger. The latter also do not need necessarily need a water source to obtain food; however, it can be helpful as their food sources are often drawn to bodies of water.

8. Are Salamander lizards born in water?

The answer to this question is yes: salamanders are always born in water; however, many don’t remain in it. This depends on the species or variation of the specific salamander lizard in question. Salamanders vary from terrestrial, to aquatic, to semi-aquatic. Aquatic salamanders, of course, live out their whole lives in the water.

Terrestrial salamanders have a less direct definition, as they spend their lives on land, but do return to water for mating and reproduction only. Semi-aquatic salamanders similarly return to water to reproduce, after spending part of their adolescent lives on land.

Water is almost always an important necessity for any type of lizard. For salamanders, water is crucial to their breeding and reproduction process. Even terrestrial salamanders choose their terrestrial homes based on how near it is to a body of water, and by the moistness that is necessary for keeping their skin hydrated.

Can baby lizards swim?

Not at all surprisingly, even a cursory internet search on this topic will prove to be more confusing than when you started! The reason for this is, yet again, because of the wide varieties of lizards. In most cases, the question of whether or not the baby or adolescent can swim is answered by the adult’s ability to swim. Especially for lizards who are born in water, such as salamanders, the ability to swim is reflexive and is known since birth.

I hope you found the information that you needed in this article! If you’re a new lizard owner, or even an experienced one, there are some tricky things that your new pet will need.

For example, playing with a lizard is much different than furry pets. It’s equally important to make sure that they are comfortable in the best environment you can provide for them – and different types of lizards require different types of cages and cage setups.

As a lizard enthusiast, I’ve loved the joy these pets have brought to myself and others over the years. Caring for these amazing creatures is such a blast, and it’s always rewarding to help others do the same.

Even if you just came here for fun, or for a distraction from work, let us know if you found this information fun and/or useful in the comments below – and if you liked it, feel free to share!


Hi, this is me with my daughter and my Lizard friend. I hope you enjoy my research. Please feel free to check out my "About Me" page to find out more about me.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments

Leave a Reply: