Can Bearded Dragons Swim?

In this post we answer whether bearded dragons can swim. They can in fact swim although not all of them like to, We look at other factors around bearded dragon swimming too

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Bearded Dragons Can Swim, But Not All Like To

About 7 min reading time

Bearded dragons can swim. Some like to and others don’t. Many will simply puff themselves up with air and just float around in any water you might put them in. One of ours absolutely hates being in water, even for a bath. Even if her feet can touch the floor of the bath, she still puffs up like a huge balloon and refuses to breath until you lift her out!

Should Bearded Dragons Swim?

This very much depends on your bearded dragon. If they don’t like it then no, they shouldn’t be made to swim as that’s just unkind. You may be able to convince your bearded dragon that swimming is OK with some patient and careful introduction to baths and then swimming but it’s not really necessary. If they don’t like it, don’t try to force them to like it.

On the other hand, if your bearded dragon likes water and swimming then by all means let them have a swim occasionally. It’s great exercise for them – just like it is for us. They can look quite like crocodiles when they swim, using their long tail as the main way of moving forward.

Swimming can also help with bowel movements for those bearded dragons who’ve not had a bowel movement for a while and have become constipated. However, if they have been constipated you’ll definitely want to make sure the swimming water is nice and warm to help them move anything through.

So, be guided by your bearded dragon. If they like swimming then by all means let them have a swim. If they don’t, then don’t try to force them.

Do Bearded Dragons Like Swimming?

As we’ve seen above, not all bearded dragons like swimming. Some love it, and others absolutely hate it. A lot of it depends on how the bearded dragon has been raised from an egg. If they’ve been around water a lot they may enjoy swimming more than those who rarely encounter a bath even.

Bearded dragons don’t need to swim, so if yours doesn’t like to, then don’t try to force it to enjoy it. There’s no need, they can get their exercise in plenty of other ways, such as going for a wander around the garden outside when the weather is nice.

How Long Should Bearded Dragons Be Allowed To Swim?

One of the key factors in letting your bearded dragon swim is the temperature of the water in which you’re going to let them swim. Bearded dragons shouldn’t be allowed to swim in cold water, although water that is outside (for example a pond) is OK for a short time if the outdoor temperature is above 23-25 Celsius and the sun is out. The preferred water temperature for a swim would be around the 35 – 37 degree Celsius area – as this is similar to the body temperature for your bearded dragon.

While your bearded dragon is swimming they should be constantly supervised. If they begin to slow down because of the temperature of the water being too cool, or because they’re becoming fatigued, you should remove them from the swimming environment.

In any case, a maximum of 10 to 15 minutes swimming time would be recommended, but this does rather depend on the environment. If they’re able to get in and out, and able to bask in between swims to warm up again, then they can pretty much make up their own mind how long they swim for. If they can’t get in or out by themselves, then lift them out when they come to the edge and look like they’re trying to get out.

Can Bearded Dragons Swim In The Pool?

Swimming pools aren’t ideal for bearded dragons to swim in many cases because many swimming pools contain high levels of chlorine to keep them clean and germ free. Unfortunately chlorine, by it’s very nature, is ultimately harmful to organic life (which is why it works to keep pools germ free!) and so it’s definitely not recommended for bearded dragons.

Bearded dragons in a chlorinated pool run the risk of eye irritation, lung irritation (the fumes from a chlorinated pool can be quite overpowering too) and skin irritations. In some cases the chlorinated water can penetrate underneath bearded dragons scales and may linger there for some time, further causing problems.

Some swimming pool owners will use salt to disinfect the pool instead of chlorine. Salt actually becomes chlorine in water (Sodium Chloride) but often pools that are salt disinfected are less harsh than pure chlorine based pools. Bearded dragons may tolerate this better than pure chlorinated pools, but there’s no evidence to back up that either chlorinated or salted pools are tolerated well by beardies.

If possible stick to letting your bearded dragon swim in ‘freshwater’ (also sometimes known as sweetwater) pools rather than chlorinated or saltwater pools.

Can Bearded Dragons Drown?

Bearded dragons can definitely drown, since unlike many amphibians they cannot breathe underwater through their skin. However, bearded dragons can hold their breath underwater for between 10 and 15 minutes if need be.

The biggest risks for a bearded dragon drowning are that they become cold in the water and begin to lose energy. Bearded dragons are cold-blooded reptiles and require heat from the environment to give them energy to move properly. If they get too cold in the water they may not be able to propel themselves forward and stay afloat well.

Other risks include becoming fatigued if there is no way for them to climb out of the water – such as baths that are too deep and have slippery edges with no appropriate ledges on which they can climb, or if they are out in the wild, they can become entangled in pond-weeds and again become fatigued.

Rough water could cause them to breathe in the water and fill their lungs. Bearded dragons have no diaphragm and it’s quite difficult (though not completely impossible) for them to cough water back out if they breathe it in. This is particularly true if their legs are not on firm ground, such as when swimming. If they breathe too much water they will quickly become overwhelmed and drown.

Summary

Bearded dragons can swim and many swim really well and quite enjoy it. Others though will absolutely hate the idea and will just puff themselves up, close their eyes and not move. Don’t force your beardie to swim if they don’t enjoy it.

Swimming bearded dragons should always be supervised for the entire time they’re swimming as they can drown, even though they can hold their breath underwater for considerably longer than most humans, they can also become easily overwhelmed if they become cold, fatigued or the water is too rough.

Swimming is a little different to bathing a bearded dragon, although some will have a little surface swim in the bath too.

After a swim your beardie is likely to be cold, so dry them off and put them under their basking lamp to warm up again.

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Featured Image by aixklusiv from Pixabay