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Do tegus like water?

There are different species of tegu lizards, some of which enjoy water more than others. The three species of tegu commonly kept as pets (salvator merianae, salvator rufescens and tupinambis teguixin) are terrestrial and prefer living on the ground.

They are however highly adaptive to different kinds of environments, from rainforest to semi-deserts, and some individuals may enjoy bathing, whereas others do not.

Another species known as the Caiman lizard technically belongs to the same family, and is sometimes referred to as “water tegus” because they are strong swimmers that require both aquatic and arboreal habitat.

Northern Caiman Lizard (Dracaena guianensis) at the Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, IL
A Caiman lizard a.k.a. water tegu swimming. Photo courtesy of Dallas Krentzel.

Can tegus swim?

All tegus can swim, some better than others. Some people recommend leaving a large enough container filled with water in your tegu’s enclosure that they can bathe in it if they wish to, but not deep enough that they can drown.

If you take your tegu for a swim in a pool or bathtub, always supervise them to make sure they can get back to the surface.

Adult tegus are not strong climbers so even if they are able to swim short distances, they may have trouble getting out of the water, and drowning is unfortunately a common cause of death.

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