Can Bearded Dragons Swim? (Ultimate Guide + Videos)

Many bearded dragon owners often wonder if their pet lizards are capable of swimming and enjoy the water exercise. Since the reptiles are native to the hot and scrubby Australian wild, most people presume that the lizards are incapable of swimming.

Besides, these reptiles are known for drinking water sporadically and then spraying it out, so you might expect them to naturally struggle in water.

So Can Bearded Dragons Swim?

Yes, bearded dragons can swim in water. In spite of their size and origin, beardies are remarkably adept swimmers. They can inhale air to puff up their bodies, float on water, and then use their limbs for swift and smooth propulsion in the same way a crocodile swims.

Thus, swimming is a great way for a beardie pet to exercise, clean their body, and cool off. Beyond this, it’s been proven to improve digestion and relieve impaction complications just as bathing.  

Moreover, bearded dragons can hold their breath for a few minutes and allows them to stay submerged under water for relatively long or swim in surprisingly deep waters.

Nevertheless, here’s the catch: Bearded dragons tire quickly in water, so they need constant supervision when swimming or an easy way to get out if the water for a rest. Alternatively, bearded dragons require something firm to hold on to whilst resting on the water.

On top of this, bearded dragons can easily drown if they stay submerged in water for longer than 10-15 minutes without a breathing and resting break. In rare cases, bearded dragons fail to perceive clear, still water, and might even drown in if the water is too deep to exit in time.

How do Bearded Dragons Swim?

Once bearded dragons get into the water, they inhale air to inflate their bodies so they can easily float on the water. In most cases, they submerge their entire body but leave the head, neck, and beard afloat.

After that, the dragons use their limbs and body to slither around in quick and agile movement inside the water like a crocodile.

You might be surprised to learn that bearded dragons can stay up to around 15 minutes under water without difficulty as they can hold their breath that long.

However, bearded dragons require frequent rest from active swimming. They achieve this by floating on the water or holding on to steady objects like rocks, trees, or twigs in the water as they hold their breath.

Bearded dragons typically live in arid areas such as subtropical woodlands, savannas, deserts, and scrublands in their natural habitats.

Wild bearded dragons, you’re most likely to find them basking and relaxing on rocks, branches, and other natural pedestals as they rarely encounter large water bodies.

However, most bearded dragons will eagerly and instinctively pounce on an opportunity to explore, bath, or swim in fresh water.

Bearded dragons are surprisingly skilled swimmers for animals that don’t require aquatic habitats to survive.

Bearded dragon swim
Photo by Erin Testone on Unsplash

Should I Let My Bearded Dragon Swim?

As bearded dragon owner, you are wondering whether to let baby bearded dragons swim or not? Yes! you should let bearded dragons swim underwater as swimming is a basic need for a bearded dragon to survive.

You can allow your bearded dragon to swim under your supervision as long as you’re comfortable with it.

Bearded dragons are reptiles. As such, they’re cold-blooded, meaning they rely on the temperature in their surroundings to regulate that of their bodies.

Typically, a captive bearded dragon requires a dry and warm terrestrial habitat to survive and thrive.

Here’s an interesting fact: Bearded dragons closely resemble and belong to the same extended family as many other aquatic lizards such as Australian and Chinese water dragons that thrive in both terrestrial and aquatic habitats.

This resemblance might partly explain why bearded dragons are exceptional swimmers- it’s in their genes!

Although it’s not an absolute requirement, allowing your bearded dragon to swim presents many benefits to you and your pet provided the conditions are right and the lizard is up for the event.

Remember each dragon is unique and some enjoy swimming while others would rather bask or relax on solid ground, rocks, branches, and other objects.

Still, letting bearded dragons swim can bring many gains such as:

  • Watching your adult bearded dragons swim is both an exciting and fascinating experience to the owner
  • It’s an opportunity to bond with and understand your beardie pet as you have to monitor them throughout the swimming session
  • Swimming is a fun and stimulating recreational exercise to keep your adult beardies body in pristine shape and their minds sharp. It’s an amusing way to keep your reptile pet in tip-top physical and mental health
  • The exercise facilitates smooth  digestion and alleviates symptoms of impaction such as constipation and lethargy
  • While swimming, a bearded dragon also bathes, so the exercise is a great way to keep the pet’s body free of grime, mites, and other forms of external dirt
  • Swimming and bathing help in hydrating and easing shedding in bearded dragons. Since the lizards shed their skin in bits over a period of a few days, water softens the dry skins and speeds up the shedding without applying force  
  • Water has a remarkable capability to absorb heat and thus provides a suitable medium for a bearded dragon to cool off after a hot day. To achieve this, ensure the swim water has suitable temperature, preferably warm

Can I Put my Bearded Dragon in Water?

We’ve already established that some bearded dragons relish water experiences such as bathing and swimming.

On the other hand, others detest experiencing water involvements and might be distressed if you force them in water.

If your beardie pet enjoys being in water, putting them in suitable water for a bath or swim a few times every week is a good way to keep them healthy, active, and happy. All you need to do is ensure that the water is healthy and you monitor your beardie every minute they’re partly or fully submerged.

Conversely, putting a bearded dragon in water against their will only makes them unnecessarily distressed and escalates the risk of your pet contracting illnesses and other health conditions like acute lethargy and stress.

In case your lizard gets distressed immediately after you place them in water, it’s best to take them out and place them in the basking area to dry.

On top of this, a bearded dragon that displays the following symptoms after swimming or bathing doesn’t fancy water recreation and you shouldn’t force them to:

  • Appetite loss
  • Failure to bask
  • Decreased physical activity and increased sleepiness
  • Development of stress marks on the lizard’s body
  • Darkening of the body, particularly the beard and underbelly
  • Gnawing at their tank

Here’s the catch: Even if your bearded dragon revels in water sports like swimming, never put them in large bodies of water such as swimming pool, lakes, or dams.

Moreover, it’s recommended to put the lizards in water carefully by allowing them to enter at their own will and pace under your close watch.

Interestingly, many bearded dragons hardly perceive still water in a basin or bathtub. Thus, you may need to agitate the water a little so that your pet can see and swim in it.

A handy way to achieve this is by splashing their front limb’s fingers into the water. Additionally, giving your bearded dragon pet weekly or other periodic warm water baths is a sure way to nudge them toward enjoying full-body swimming sessions.

Can Bearded Dragons Drown Themselves?

Unfortunately, bearded dragon drowning can happen like any other animal that draws air into and out of their lungs via nostrils. If bearded dragons breathe excessive amounts of water into their lungs, they’re bound to drown and could even suffer immediate death.

It might sound a little overcautious, but it only takes a few moments for a bearded dragon to drown in water.

Although the lizards are capable swimmers, exhaustion can easily prevent them from holding their heads above water and cause them to drown even in shallow water.

Beyond this, a bearded dragon’s energy level prior to a swim also plays a monumental role in determining whether they swim successfully and exit the water safely or drown.

Steps To Protect Your Bearded Dragon From Drowning:

  • Always monitor every moment of your bearded dragon swimming exercises
  • Provide a solid platform under or on the swimming water for your bearded dragon to step on or hang on to as they catch their breath. The platform enables bearded dragons hold to hold their head above the water level to avoid drowning
  • Quickly take your pet dragon out of the water if they get bloated, stop breathing, or if your bearded dragon stay underwater for longer than 20 minutes.  After that, perform emergency first aid to expel the water from the lungs, restore normal breathing, and then contact your reptile pet’s vet promptly
  • Keep your bearded dragon pet away from any situation that can potentially cause drowning. This is probably the best way to protect your precious dragon from drowning-related health complications or death.

Final Thoughts

Though bearded dragons are naturally terrestrial reptiles, most are superb swimmers when they get an opportunity to bath and soak in suitable water.

If your bearded dragon enjoys swimming, allowing them to indulge in the activity provides exciting recreation, adequate physical activity, and mental stimulation.

On top of this, swimming is a great way to crank up a beardie’s hydration levels back to norm, clean off grime and mites, and regulate their body temperature. It also fosters effective food digestion and relieves impaction.

Nevertheless, swimming bearded dragons can be in a risk because swimming is a risky exercise that can easily drown and kill your pet bearded dragon in an instant.

Thus, always keep a close eye on your lizard as they swim or bathe. Further, be mindful of your pet’s likes and dislikes and never force them to swim against their will to prevent unnecessary complications such as drowning, stress, and potential death.

We hope this guide has answered all your questions on bearded dragons swimming. If you still have any question in mind, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Recent Posts