Can Chameleons Swim?

Can Chameleons Swim

Some reptiles can swim and some can’t. If you own a chameleon or planning to own one, you may wonder if they can swim.

So can chameleons swim? The simple answer is no, chameleons cannot swim.  They are not built for swimming, and it could cause them serious health issues. Therefore, you should never force them into the water to see if they can swim. However, there are some circumstances where they may fall into the water or need to jump into the water to escape danger. If they do, they will puff themselves up and just float.

Do Chameleons Like Water?

Chameleons like to drink water, but they do not like to be in the water, or it’s sprayed on them.

Placing a chameleon in the water will cause them a lot of stress. These creatures spend their entire life in the trees and are only used to that environment.

By putting the chameleon in the water, it’s a whole new environment for them that they are not used to.

Can Chameleons Drown?

Yes, chameleons can drown. They are not equipped for swimming and will likely drown if the water is too deep for them.

In fact, even a shallow bowl of water poses a risk for them. If for some reason, the chameleon falls or slips into the bowl, due to the slippery surface, they will not be able to climb out.

After a while, they will get exhausted and will likely drown. For that reason, it’s a good idea to not put a bowl of water in the enclosure. Chameleons don’t drink from a bowl anyway.

Can Chameleons Breathe Underwater?

Like many other reptiles, chameleons cannot breathe underwater. They are not equipped with gills to be able to breathe underwater.

Some people may think so, since other reptiles like the crocodile and marine iguana spend a lot of their time underwater. That’s true, but in reality, they are able to hold their breath for a very long time. When they need to breathe, they will come out of the water.

Why Shouldn’t Chameleons Get Wet?

There are many reasons why your chameleon should not be put in the water. Water is not something that they are evolved to be in. Chameleons have been living in trees for hundreds of years, and this is the only environment that their body is developed for.

Below is are some of the reasons why your chameleon should not get wet:

Weakened Immune Systems

Their immune system will start to weaken every time you put them in water. This can be either in a tub of water or even showering them with water.

Chameleon is used to dry climate and a small amount of rain each year. When it rains, the chameleon will go under large plants and other objects where they won’t be exposed to the rain.

Since chameleons are not used to getting wet, their immune system will weaken. This will lead to sickness and other health issues.

Your Chameleon Can Develop a Cold or Even Pneumonia

Every time you bathe them, there’s a chance that your chameleon can develop a cold. Prolonged exposure to water could lead to pneumonia.

Once they have a cold or pneumonia, this will weaken their immune system. If the problem is severe, you’ll need to seek medical attention right away.

Chameleons Come From a Dry Climate

Most species of chameleons live in a dry climate where it rains only a few times per year. Therefore, the chance of them ever seeing water is rare. When it does rain, the chameleons will look for cover under large objects such as plants and branches.

Chameleons Are Arboreal

This means your pet chameleon lives up in the tree and spends its entire life there. They will rarely come down from the tree unless there is a need to.

For female chameleons, they will come down from the tree when they are ready to lay eggs. Once they are done laying their eggs, they will go back up the trees.

Giving Your Chameleon A Bath

Pets that are kept in an enclosure will start to smell over time. Waste from the pet, uneaten foods that drop to the bottom, and poor circulation all contribute to the odor in the cage. All of this will cause your pet to smell.

When it comes to chameleons, they will smell as well. Most people think that giving them a bath once a week is fine. You may want to put them into a bucket of water and give them a bath. This is not recommended and should be avoided.

If you’re planning to give your chameleon a bath, it’s best to shower them with water. Showering them with water mimics the rain in their natural habitat.

Giving them a bath is a bad idea as it will make them stress. It’s important to not cause any stress on them as it could lead to them becoming sick.


While there are some videos online showing chameleon swimming, it’s not recommended to do the same to your chameleon. Doing so will only cause them to be stressed and could even cause them to become ill. It’s best to leave them where they are happy, which is up in the trees, away from the water.