Can Lizards Swim? | Do Lizards Survive In Water?

  • By: Kavi Ranjan
  • Date: November 8, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.
Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Lizards are the quickest of vertebrae with adaptive skills that protect them from different predators in the wild and also allows them to hunt small insects. 

Many lizards have the tendency to change colors with respect to their surroundings called camouflage. Lizards have scales and rough skin that allow them to run quickly over land but they are quite slow in water. 

As a curious mind who loves animals, I have always wondered about how lizards cope in the water bodies, and if you also think the same this article will help you to quench your curiosity. 

Can Lizards Survive In Water?

Yes, lizards can survive in water as they are capable of swimming in water for some extent of time. Lizards breathe while swimming in the water by keeping their mouth and nostrils above the water level to breathe easily. 

As a fact, they can only survive for some time in the water.

Can Lizards Live Underwater?

Lizards can not survive underwater as it is not possible for them to breathe underwater. Lizards do not possess gills and henceforth are not capable of underwater breathing. 

Normally the body of lizards is not evolved in such a way that they can survive the underwater conditions for a long time.

Well, there are some exceptions to these. Some lizards are capable of living underwater for a prolonged time. Marine Iguanas is one of them. 

They also do not have any kind of gills but are capable of holding their breaths for up to 12 minutes. They also breaths in a similar manner by coming up to the surface of the water.

Evolution of Lizard and Water.

The evolutionary story of lizards with respect to water is an intriguing one. The ancestors of present-day lizards for a long time in the past were marine species. 

Slowly with the passage of time, they started to march towards land, and their body starts adapting slowly.

Their body witnessed changes that allowed them to walk and survive on the land and the feature that help them to survive in the water slowly degenerated. These ancestors evolved into a variety of species of present-day lizards. 

As a result, some of the present-day lizards are capable of surviving in the water for longer durations and can effortlessly swim over the water surface for longer durations.

Is it possible for lizards to walk on water?

Generally, lizards can not walk over water to cover distances, but they are good swimmers and can easily swim in the water

Although there is one special case, Jesus Lizard can easily cover the distance over water by running over it. They do so by creating a very high momentum by starting running from the ground with a heavy speed and enters into the water with the same momentum to run over it.

This property of running over water helps these lizards to run away from their predators and act as a defense mechanism. They can not walk over water as it will not create enough momentum. They are also capable of swimming in the water.

At What Temperature Do Lizards Survive In Water?

Lizards can tolerate moderate temperature conditions in the water. They are cold-blooded animals and their internal body temperature changes as per the external temperature conditions. So a moderate temperature is best suited for the optimal working of their bodily functions.

In extreme temperature conditions, the lizards cannot survive. In extreme cold, these animals cannot survive for longer durations and the same in extremely hot water. 

Some facts about lizards in water

  • It is very common to see a lizard swimming through the water when they are on a quest to find a mating partner. Most lizards even find their partners in the water.
  • The water is also dreadful for the lizards as there are many predators hidden in the water that can attack the lizards to end their lives.
  • Lizards are generally more inclined towards land but some of them can travel at faster speeds in water. The Chinese dragon lizard travels with a greater speed while swimming in the water as compared to the territorial speed. The Chinese dragon uses this skill to protect itself from different predators.
  • Generally, lizards swim in a way that their body posture is always streamlined and their nose is outside the water so they can breathe easily.
  • The lizards use their tail in an effective way to change directions while swimming in the water. It helps as a controller and allows them to change direction in upstream and downstream flows. They change the direction of their tale to the right and left to change their direction while swimming. The tail also helps them to move forward and to revolve around a target as well.


Lizards are one of the most adaptive land crawlers, their body with time has evolved in many ways to help them survive in the most difficult of situations. Their ancestors lived in water and the reptiles evolved from there. Some of them can survive in water for longer durations but few can not.