Some bearded dragons can’t stand being in water…and some can’t get enough of it! You might already know this from bathing your own dragon. For a dragon who enjoys the water (or maybe just needs some exercise), is swimming a good idea? Can bearded dragons swim, and if so, how can they do so safely? Find out everything you need to know for your water-loving reptile.
Can Bearded Dragons Swim?
Yes! Bearded dragons can swim. While they may not have many opportunities to swim in the wild, they are able to swim. They inhale air to float and then use their limbs to paddle through the water. They are not always the most graceful or smooth swimmers, but they can do it.
Do Bearded Dragons Like to Swim?
Similar to bath time, some dragons like it, some don’t. If your dragon enjoys getting a bath, he might love the chance to swim in deeper water.
Supervised, safe swim time can be a great way for dragons to:
- bond with you
- have fun
- get much-needed exercise
- move shedding along
- alleviate constipation
Where Can Bearded Dragons Swim?
You have some options when it comes to choosing a body of water for your bearded dragon to swim:
Kiddie pool outside on a hot day.
Basin, bowl, or bin indoors filled with lukewarm or warm water (be sure to sanitize the container first with white vinegar and water; no chemical cleaners). Tap water should be safe, but if the water in your area has a lot of chemicals or if you are concerned, you can treat it with a reptile-safe water conditioner or use bottled water instead.
Designated sink or tub indoors (only use a tub or sink if the ONLY purpose is letting your dragon swim or bathe; it is unwise to share a tub between family members and your dragon as you can run the risk of salmonella and your dragon can be harmed by household hygiene products and bathroom cleaners).
Ponds and lakes are generally safe if you are vigilant, the water is not too cold, and there isn’t a current (or predators) that could sweep your dragon away. You really should only use this option if you are confident it is safe.
Never let your dragon swim in the ocean; the waves and salt water are too dangerous.
Can Bearded Dragons Swim in a Pool?
Although a small pool with tap or filtered water is fine, don’t let your dragon swim in a chlorinated pool. The chemicals can harm your dragon, causing eye infection or respiratory problems.
How to Keep Your Dragon Safe While Swimming
Check the water temperature.
Bearded dragons are cold-blooded, so it’s important to use lukewarm or warm water (between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit is a good rule of thumb). Cold water will make your dragon sick.
If you let your dragon swim outside in a lake, pond, or a kiddie pool, it’s still important to monitor the temperature. Water from a hose, for example, can be quite cold.
Monitor your dragon at all times.
Do not leave your dragon unattended, even for a moment. The risk of drowning is not worth it.
On that note, some dragons will swim underwater, and that’s okay, but don’t let them stay submerged for long. A few minutes is the longest they should stay under if they are swimming without a struggle.
This is pretty obvious, but we’ll say it anyway: never push your dragon underwater. And never drop them into the water, either. Instead, gently release them from your hand.
Provide a way for your dragon to rest.
Dragons can swim in deep water, but you must supervise and there should be an easy way for them to take a rest, such as a log or plastic pool toy. Shallow water that allows your dragon’s nose to stay above the water level is generally best.
Pro Tip: Many dragons, especially babies or those who are new to swimming, enjoy props and toys in the water. These can include branches, rocks, pool toys, or even an inflatable device for them to rest on, if they are not afraid of it.
Don’t force your dragon to swim.
If your dragon has never been swimming before or is just not in the mood and showing signs of stress, don’t force him to swim. You can introduce him to the water by cupping your hands around him and lowering him down gently; if he breaks free and begins swimming on his own, he is probably enjoying it. But if he puffs out his beard or frantically scrambles to escape, just give him a rest. Swimming might not be his thing, or he may not be ready for it just yet.
Some dragons swim freely but are stressed afterwards. Look out for signs of stress once swim time is over. Is your dragon:
- Refusing to eat?
- Not moving around as much as usual?
- Refusing to bask?
- Showing stress marks?
If so, swimming might have been a little too much for your bearded dragon.
Warm your dragon after swim time.
After swim time, wrap your dragon in a soft towel and pat her dry. It’s best not to rub, especially if your dragon is shedding. Then put your dragon under her basking light to help regulate her body temperature, as swimming can leave her feeling pretty cold.
Takeaway: Swimming can be a fun activity for your bearded dragon when it is supervised and safe in warm, shallow water with props.
Does your bearded dragon love swimming? Do you have any questions or feedback for us? Please email us at [email protected]