Crested Geckos are very popular pet reptiles and of course, reptile keepers have a lot of different questions about them. Among the many queries posted frequently, one that comes up often is whether crested geckos can swim.
So can Crested Geckos swim? Yes, crested geckos can swim but they are not natural swimmers; they do not really swim when out in the wild unless they are compelled to. With crested geckos, it is really about survival – if the situation at hand requires that they fight it out, even if the “battleground” happens to be water, they will do it.
As a responsible crested gecko owner, you are expected not to create a situation where your pet is forced to swim at all times; instead, it should be comfortable enough to swim only when it wants to, only when it needs to.
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Reptilian Instinctual Ability to Swim
Crested geckos, as with other reptiles, have an instinctual ability to swim – when compelled to. Take lizards as a prime example; they cannot swim per se but in a fight or flight scenario, they are capable of at least making their way to the nearest safety spot, say a tree or shoreline away from water.
Likewise with chameleons that possess an additional natural capability of inflating themselves up, that helps them stay afloat in water.
Things are very similar with crested geckos; if the situation beckons that they swim a little bit for their safety, they will do so with reasonable ease.
Risk of Drowning your Crested Gecko
Keeping your crested gecko in a fish tank with relatively deep enough water carries the risk of drowning it. That is the reason this is a habitat which is not recommended. If you really have to, then the water level should at best be half an inch to an inch deep but not more.
Bear in mind that humidity is not as much a factor with crested geckos as is often believed. These are creatures which are used to dry habitats and can do just fine with minimum moisture.
Concerns regarding shedding or dehydration are often far-fetched. Even if you keep the substrate minimally moist it will do.
In fact, keeping a water dish in your crested gecko habitat – say a cage instead of a tank, will go a long way in ensuring that your pet gets just the right amount of moisture required for its sustenance without being excessive.
Adequate Spraying of your Crested Gecko Environment
Continuing the argument in the previous section, another aspect worth mentioning is that of spraying your crested gecko’s habitat. Just like the substrate which can be kept minimally moist, there is really no need for you to spray excessively. In most instances, light spraying done in the evenings should suffice.
Again, think about the natural habitat of these crested geckos back home in New Caledonia; it is really not a very moist environment that they are used to, or live in. Why should things be any different where you house your crested gecko(s)?
In fact, there is no need for a waterfall or a misting system either, often put in place by many crested gecko owners.
Remember that in case a scenario emerges where you are away for a while and are unable to moisten your crested gecko habitat for some time (even few days), your pet will in all likelihood do just fine!
Risking Excessive Stress with Compelled Swimming
When you compel your crested gecko to swim, you also risk raising stress levels in it to unmanageable heights.
As we mentioned previously, crested geckos are not natural swimmers and only do so when really required by nature, which are typically undesirable and invariably stressful situations.
In your case, if you are creating an artificial habitat where your crested gecko is required to swim all the time, you are unnecessarily raising the stress levels for it perpetually.
This can lead to various health issues for your pet, repeated trips to the vet (along with the inflated bills that come with it!) and a lot of avoidable headaches.
All of this can easily be sidestepped by keeping a minimally moist environment for your crested gecko as has already been stressed upon.
Crested Gecko Drowning in Extreme Cases
In extreme cases, especially with novice crested gecko owners who went all out to “wet” their pet’s habitat, the result was tragic with the crested gecko unable to survive the onslaught of water that was forcefully thrust upon it.
Remember that you want this new member of your family to thrive not drown. It can only do so when you ensure an environment as maximally conducive for it as possible.
This mandates a reasonably dry environment, not one in which it has to swim its way to safety all the time.
What about giving my Crested Gecko a Bath?
Giving your crested gecko a bath is really not necessary. Remember that as with other reptiles, shedding is commonplace with crested geckos which helps keep them clean.
Additional initiatives such as collecting your crested gecko’s droppings thoroughly and regularly also helps in keeping them clean.
All too often there are other “newbie” mistakes from owners that dirty these otherwise pristine crested geckos, such as inappropriate habitats, poor choice of substrate, caging too many crested geckos together, and worse, cohabitating them with other inappropriate species.
As long as these mistakes are avoided, there is really no reason for you to consider giving your crested gecko a bath.
Can I Teach my Crested Gecko to Swim?
Crested geckos are instinctual swimmers so you will really not be in a position to impart them with a skill they already possess to a reasonable degree! It is just that they do not naturally swim; but if forced to, they can, without having to be taught how to do so.
The real point of contention here would be the immense stress you will subject your crested gecko to, in trying to teach it to swim.
After all, an attempt like this would likely imply exposing it to reasonable levels of water on an ongoing basis. This would trigger immense stress in the creature that could do undue, irreparable health-related damage to it.
The question is why would you compel your crested gecko to swim? Is it for entertainment purpose?
If so, then you really need to question your motives because this kind of amusement is nowhere in the interest of your pet to the extent that you may even end up losing it altogether, defeating the very purpose of having a crested gecko in the first place.
The bottom-line remains that when it comes to crested geckos, they can swim but only when their instinctual ability creeps in, in an extreme situation. Otherwise, they are as far away from Michael Phelps’ prowess as possible!
As a responsible pet owner, it is your duty not to force crested geckos to swim. In fact, you should go all out to ensure a conducive living environment for your crested gecko which is minimally moist.
Although unnecessary, it is OK if you want some water around your crested gecko wherein on absolutely seldom occasions, it does an occasional swim.
The key is to have an arrangement, say stones that allow the crested gecko to quickly get back onto a dry environment without any fuss. Beyond that, you will only be harming your pet in more ways than you could imagine.