Have you ever looked at a bearded dragon lounging in their water bowl and wondered if they can swim? Many people take one look at the bearded dragon’s size and the fact that they are a lizard hailing from desert conditions and presume that bearded dragons can’t swim, but the answer may surprise you.
Bearded dragons can and love to swim. Bearded dragons are able to swim by inhaling air and floating in lukewarm water. They can hold their breath and swim under the water for 10 – 15 minutes. They should not be left to swim for longer than 15 minutes, as this puts them at risk of drowning.
Bearded dragons are natural-born swimmers, but this doesn’t mean that they can swim anywhere. Here’s everything that you need to know about bearded dragons and swimming.
Table of Contents
Can Bearded Dragons Swim?
People dragons can swim, and better yet, most of them really enjoy doing it. We say most because not all bearded dragons enjoy swimming, and the only time they will want to touch water is just to drink.
If you have ever seen a bearded dragon swim, you will know how they wiggle their body from side to side in a chaotic doggy paddle. There is nothing graceful about their swimming!
There is a method behind this swimming technique. To swim, they will inhale air into their body to float and use their limbs to paddle in the water. The tail has the important job of steering them in the direction that they want to go.
So, how do you know if your beardie enjoys swimming?
You’ll get a good indication of whether your beardie will enjoy swimming if you find that they spend a lot of time lounging or playing in their water bowl.
Another way to test if your beardie will enjoy swimming is to gently place them in your hands and slowly lower them into the water. Not all the way in.
If your bearded dragon presents a black beard and they are hissing, lift them up out of the water. This is a good indication that they are not wanting to swim.
It is important that you do not force your beardie to swim if they do not want to. This will just make them stressed.
Signs That Swimming is Stressing Your Beardie
Sometimes your beardie will swim enthusiastically but afterward present signs of stress. This usually means that the swimming was too much for them.
Here are some signs that your beardie is feeling stressed:
- They are not moving around as much
- They are not eating
- They are opening their mouth
- They have dark stress marks on their body
If you do see some signs of stress, you can cut down how long your beardie swims to reduce some of the stress.
Tip: Learn more about stress signs in your beardie with our comprehensive guide on bearded dragon stress marks.
Can Baby Bearded Dragons Swim?
Baby bearded dragons can swim just as well as adult bearded dragons.
Baby bearded dragons will need more care and attention when they are swimming because they are more at risk of drowning.
You should keep their swimming sessions much shorter than adults, as they will tire very easily. They should not swim in cold water as this can be fatal as they have very little heat storage.
Lastly, you must be extremely vigilant that your baby beardie does not stay underwater for long.
Do Bearded Dragons Swim in The Wild?
Most of these Australian lizards live in warm, desert areas, so while they can swim, they will not swim often in the wild, nor do they have many encounters with large bodies of water.
Typically they will swim if they are looking to cool down and soothe their bowls. Swimming is excellent for helping to relieve constipation in bearded dragons.
Sometimes a bearded dragon will swim in the wild only if they have to. For example, if they need to go somewhere and swimming is the only way to get there or if they are getting away from a predator.
However, there are some breeds of bearded dragons, like the Chinese water dragon and the Australian water dragon, who spend a lot of time in the water.
Both of these water dragons are very strong swimmers and can spend more time in the water than other bearded dragons. For example, the Chinese water dragon can stay underwater for 25 minutes.
Should I Put a Water Pool in My Beardies Tank?
Bearded dragons are used to dry, warm environments and get their water from insects and plants. You can put a water pool in your bearded dragon’s tank. However, this should not be very deep as they use this water source to take baths.
The water pool should also be large enough for your beardie to comfortably lay flat in the shallow water and be able to get in and out easily.
Make sure that you are regularly cleaning the water, and be aware that the more time your beardie spends lounging in the water, the more poop you will need to clean from the water.
Strange as it is, bearded dragons poop in their water bowls for many reasons.
However, the Chinese and Australian water dragons must have water pools in their tanks. Both the Chinese and Australian water dragons will need a pool that is large and deep enough for them to submerge half of their body under water.
Providing the water dragons with water in their tank will help keep them happy, as happy beardies are healthy beardies!
Where Can Bearded Dragons Swim?
Just because bearded dragons can swim does not mean that they can swim anywhere. It is important that you only allow your beardie to swim in water that is safe for them and their health.
Here are some suitable places that your beardie can swim in.
Indoor Basin, Bowl or Container
You can use whatever basin, bowl, or container you have available in your home as a suitable pool for your beardie. Just make sure that the container is clean and that you are not filling it too deep.
If you are using a bowl, you should designate that bowl only for your beardie to swim and not serve food in case of salmonella infection.
Remember to use lukewarm water. Tap water is fine as well. However, if you’re concerned about the chemicals or pollutants in your water, you can use bottled water.
Lakes and Ponds
Bearded dragons can swim in ponds and lakes if you’re confident that it is safe for them. This will mean making sure that the water is not too cold, there are no predators in the water, and that you are keeping a close eye on them at all times.
The Bath Tub
Bearded dragons can swim in the bathtub as long as the water is not too cold and the water is not too deep. Ideally, the water should be no higher than their elbows.
Using a bathtub as a way of exercising your beardie is a great idea, as the length of the tub can provide parameters. Just make sure the water is not too deep.
Some bearded dragon owners prefer to use a bathtub or even sink that is designated for their beardie only. There is a risk of a salmonella infection with beardies and humans using the same bathtub.
If you are going to use your normal bathtub, the tub needs to be thoroughly cleaned between use, and you are using a reptile-safe cleaner. Some owners have recommended Dawn dish soap as a safe soap to use!
Can Bearded Dragons Swim in Swimming Pools?
As much as you may think it will be fun for your bearded dragon to swim in your chlorinated or saltwater pool, this is actually very bad for them.
Chlorinated water is full of chemicals that, if ingested by your beardie, can be toxic as well as irritate your beardies eyes. This can lead to eye infections.
Another reason why you should not let your beardie swim in the swimming pool is that chlorinated water is very drying.
The same goes for saltwater pools. Bearded dragons should never be allowed to swim in saltwater pools because if they ingest the water, their body cannot handle such high levels of sodium.
Can Bearded Dragons Swim in the Ocean?
Bearded dragons can under no circumstances swim in the ocean because of the high levels of salt. The constant waves and currents of the ocean are dangerous for bearded dragons as a current can sweep them far out into the sea as well as exhaust them.
How Long Should Bearded Dragons Swim For?
You should not let your bearded dragon swim for long periods, as much as it may be fun to watch them swimming in their goofy manner.
A safe amount of time to let your bearded dragon swim is between 10 and 15 minutes. Any longer and they can become exhausted, drink too much water, or become too cold.
Letting them swim for too long can be dangerous to their health.
How Often Should I Let My Bearded Dragon Swim?
Bearded dragons can safely swim around one or two times per week. You don’t want to overdo it and risk making your beardie stressed.
If your beardie really enjoys swimming, a good idea is to put a slightly larger and shallow water dish in their tank so they can lounge and paddle in it whenever they feel like it.
Just remember that if your beardie is spending a lot of time in that water dish, you will be cleaning it more often.
How Deep Can Bearded Dragons Swim Underwater?
Bearded dragons do not enjoy swimming deep underwater and will remain closer to the water’s surface. The deepest they will go under the water is usually around one foot and no more.
Deep water is not recommended for bearded dragons as this poses a serious risk of drowning.
They do, however, like to submerge their heads underwater and can hold their breaths for up to 15 minutes.
Bearded dragons should not be allowed to stay submerged for longer than 15 minutes, as this can be dangerous for their health.
If your beardie has inhaled too much water, they are at risk for Pneumonia and other upper respiratory infections.
Some signs to watch out for are:
- Breathing with an open mouth
- Nasal or glottal discharge
You can try to remove water your beardie may have inhaled by placing them under a heat lamp with their head angled in a downward position.
Similar to getting stubborn water out of your eardrum after swimming, this method will help remove the water out of your beardie’s lungs.
If you suspect your beardie has ingested too much water after swimming or they are presenting with the above symptoms, you need to take them to the vet for treatment.
Can Bearded Dragons Drown?
Bearded dragons can drown, which is why you should not let them swim unsupervised in deep waters or for too long.
Exhaustion is a common cause of drowning in bearded dragons. This is why bearded dragons should not be allowed to swim for more than 15 minutes.
Adding some rocks, branches, and even floaties is a good way of giving your beardie a safe spot to take a break while swimming.
Your bearded dragon should be able to climb in or out of the water pool easily, and the water should not be too cold either.
How To Resuscitate Your Beardie After Drowning
If the worst has happened and your bearded dragon has drowned, there is a chance that you can possibly resuscitate them.
- Turn your bearded dragon upside down and let gravity do its job. This should help remove the excess water from the lungs.
- While holding your beardie upside down, use your fingers to massage your beardie’s stomach in a downward motion. This should also help remove the excess water.
- Now you will need to apply CPR to your beardie.
- Using two fingers, you must perform firm chest compression, but not too firm that you break the sternum.
- Between each compression, blow air into your beardies mouth.
- Do this about ten times or until your beardie takes a breath.
If this has worked, you should leave your beardie under a heat lamp until they warm up to normal temperature. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that this will work, and if your beardie is already dead, there is no way to revive them.
It is much easier to practice drowning preventive measures like supervision, avoiding deep water and keeping swimming sessions short than it is to revive a drowned bearded dragon.
How To Prepare a Safe Place For Your Bearded Dragon to Swim
There are a couple of simple things that you can do to prepare a safe swimming environment for your beardie.
Maintain Appropriate Water Temperature
Bearded dragons are cold-blooded lizards, so they cannot swim in cold water, as this can make them weak and lethargic.
If you are using tap water, it should be at a lukewarm temperature. Around 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
Remember, even if you are letting your beardie swim in ponds or lakes, you still need to check that the water is not too cold. We recommend using a digital thermometer like this one.
Provide A Place To Rest
Whether you are using your bathtub, a pond, or a container, it is a good idea to provide something for your beardie to rest on during swimming.
Exhaustion is a common cause of drownings in bearded dragons, so you want to have a resting place like branches, rocks, and even floating pool toys like plastic tubes.
Monitor Your Dragon At All Times
It is so important that you monitor your beardie at all times when they are swimming, even if they are just swimming in your bathtub.
You need to be constantly making sure that they are breathing, not drinking too much water, are not staying submerged for too long, and be there to remove them from the water when they are tired.
Following these steps will help keep your beardie safe while they are swimming.
How To Warm Your Bearded Dragon After Swimming
Bearded dragons are cold-blooded lizards and don’t do well without heat for too long. After a swim, they need to be dried off and warmed up to prevent illness.
Dry your beardie gently with a dry towel and leave them underneath a heating lamp. If, after a while, your beardie’s skin is still cool to the touch and they’re lethargic, you need to increase the temperature of their tank to try to warm them up.
Raise the tank temperature by a maximum of two degrees until they start feeling warmer and become more active.
Bearded dragons can swim, and many of them really enjoy it. Making sure that you know where to let them swim, for how long, and how often will go a long way in helping keep your bearded dragon happy and safe while swimming.
If you suspect that your bearded dragon has ingested too much water or they are showing symptoms of illness, you need to take your bearded dragon to the vet for proper treatment.
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