Can Veiled Chameleons Swim?

Most people assume that all reptiles are in and out of the water as frequently as they are on land. But this unfortunately is not true when referring to veiled chameleons.

Can these chameleons swim? NO, but they will occasionally try to float. Some lizards are able to swim, just not the veiled chameleon. Veiled chameleons are just not swimmers. 

What Happens If My Chameleon Falls into Water?

Chameleons can fall into a water bowl accidentally, or because they feel they are in danger. If they fall into the water, they usually will puff up and simply float.

Can Veiled Chameleons Swim

Are Veiled Chameleons at Risk of Drowning?

Yes, a veiled chameleon can drown. Even a very shallow bowl of drinking water can present a risk to your veiled chameleon.

In fact, there’s no reason to leave out a bowl of water, because a veiled chameleon will not try to drink from a bowl anyway.

Should you feel the need to leave some water in your chameleon’s cage, make sure that it is extremely shallow. A veiled chameleon may wander into a bowl and not be able to leave it, getting stuck inside.

Are Veiled Chameleons Able to Breathe If Underwater?

No, unfortunately, a veiled chameleon cannot breathe if it goes underwater. This is somewhat of a myth.

No amphibian or reptile is capable of breathing underwater. For example, fish have gills that permit them to breathe when swimming underwater. Reptiles do not have gills or other organs that allow them to breathe underwater, so it is physically impossible.

This is a common assumption. People see larger reptiles like alligators or crocodiles that go underwater and surface again with ease.

So, it is automatically assumed that they are breathing while underwater. But this assumption is incorrect. Crocodiles do not breathe while swimming underwater.

If you observe them closely, you’ll notice that crocodiles submerge their bodies but their eyes and nostrils will remain floating above the water’s surface.

In this way, there are able to see and focus on their prey and continue breathing at the same time. This technique also allows them to spend a great deal of time in the water.

Does a Chameleon Like Bathing?

Yes, chameleons do enjoy a bath, and it’s a good idea because they will eventually smell. To bathe your veiled chameleon, a shower is the best method as it accurately mimics natural rainfall. Do not bathe your chameleon excessively as this may contribute to skin dryness and dehydration.

Can Veiled Chameleons Remain in Water for an Extended Period?

No, if a chameleon remains in the water for too long, it will become stressed. Chameleons come from dryer environments and spend a great deal of time in trees and vegetation, so they are not physically adapted to sitting in water. Other negative repercussions of remaining in water include:

      •  A weakened immune system
      • Severe illness

Will My Veiled Chameleon Enjoy Being Sprayed?

No, your pet veiled chameleon will not enjoy it if you spray it directly. They do enjoy the spraying or misting of their cage enclosure.

Misting is utilized by zookeepers or reptile specialists to replicate a lizard’s natural habitat. When living in the wild, veiled chameleons regularly experience rainfall where trees and vegetation get wet. Misting is used to reproduce the natural habitat as closely as possible.

This may seem unimportant, but it serves a double purpose. In the wild, Lizards and veiled chameleons will drink water by licking water from plants, trees, and branches left on vegetation after it rains. So, it is wise to mist your veiled chameleon’s enclosure, just don’t spray your pet directly.

What About an Automated Water System for My Veiled Chameleon?

Automated water systems can be expensive, but they certainly facilitate watering necessities for your Veiled Chameleon. If you have the possibility, it’s a very good option.

Automated water systems allow you to mist your chameleon’s environment without any manual work. You also may, in the end, save some water as well. 

Automated water systems can be programmed to spray your chameleon’s enclosure for a specific amount of time several times daily, literally replicating moisture as if in a natural habitat.

While it’s not quite the same as natural rainfall, it will provide the water that your veiled chameleon needs to survive and live a quality lifestyle.

Is Tap Water Okay for My Veiled Chameleon?

Not really. Tap water is not recommended for use with your veiled chameleon tap water. Much, of course, depends on the water supply in your municipality.

Is Tap Water Okay for My Veiled Chameleon

But many water systems are filled with chemicals. Reptiles are used to naturally cleaner water. You would need to know the chemical content of your municipality’s water supply to know if it is appropriate for your reptile.

To make a safe choice, use distilled water. This is most likely your cleanest option and the choice that is closest to the clean water they are accustomed to.

Will My Chameleon’s Enclosure Affect How My Pet Gets Water?

Yes, absolutely. Ideally, your veiled chameleon needs a vertical enclosure. Not only do veiled chameleons like to climb but they get their water from plants.

They will need these pants to be at the highest level and that the plants are regularly sprayed so that they are wet. In this way, the droplets will cascade down so that your veiled chameleon can consume what they require.

Should I Create a Waterfall in My Veiled Chameleon’s Enclosure?

No, an artificial waterfall is not a good idea. It may give your chameleon’s cage an aesthetically attractive appearance, but it will also be an incubator for germs and bacteria.

Artificial waterfalls will continuously pump the same water, and after a while, that water will be dirty. If your lizard has urinated or defecated in or near the water, it will be unsanitary. If an insect dies in the water, it will taint the water. All of this can create infections and harm your lizard. 

If the same germs and bacteria remain in your chameleon’s enclosure, eventually your lizard will be in contact with the tainted water.

If you had a shallow pond for your chameleon and noticed feces you would remove them and clean the little pond. With a waterfall constantly pumping filthy water, you most likely won’t notice and the germs will continue moving through the pump.

Is It Possible for My Veiled Chameleon to Become Dehydrated?

If you do not provide an appropriate water source within your chameleon’s enclosure or there is insufficient humidity, your lizard can become dehydrated. The easiest symptom to spot is the sunken appearance of your chameleon’s eyes.

A Veiled chameleon’s eyes protrude from their bodies. They appear as if they are sticking out. If they suddenly appear sunken, this can be a clear indication that your veiled chameleon is dehydrated.

Eyes are made up predominantly of water. If water intake is reduced, the eyes will sink into the head. Should this happen, it requires immediate intervention. 

Get your veiled chameleon to your veterinarian who may use intravenous treatment to rehydrate your amphibian. Once your amphibian is in the care of your vet, analyze your pet’s enclosure to establish why your chameleon does not have sufficient water intake.

A Final Thought

Veiled chameleons do not swim. However, they can get wet and will manage when exposed to a little bit of water. They often will capture prey in the form of insects near bodies of water. So while they can be exposed to water, they cannot be left in it.

Susan R Elliston

I have over 11 years of experience as a vet working with a wonderful variety of species of innocent and lovely animals. Whilst I still work two days a week for a local practice, I realized that I could help more people by sharing my knowledge and experience with my readers.

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