As a bearded dragon owner, have you ever wondered if your little lizard friend can swim?
If bearded dragons can swim, do they enjoy it?
Should swimming time be part of your beardie’s daily routine?
If you ask yourself any of these questions or are wondering if wild bearded dragons spend time in the water, you are not alone.
This article will discuss bearded dragons’ relationship with water, their swimming capabilities, and how to acclimate your pet lizard with water.
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Can A Bearded Dragon Swim?
Bearded dragons are adequate swimmers, and most enjoy spending some time in the water. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for these reptiles. This activity is stimulating and is a great way to aid digestion.
Bearded dragons are native to Australia and usually reside in warm, arid areas such as the desert, savannas, scrublands, and subtropical woodlands.
These animals do not typically encounter large bodies of water while living in the wilderness of Australia.
However, if presented with the opportunity, most bearded dragons will explore the water and instinctively swim.
Bearded dragons are reptiles and require a warm, dry terrestrial enclosure environment to live in.
Beardies are cousins to other species of lizards known as Australian water dragons and Chinese water dragons.
These water dragons look remarkably similar to bearded dragons, but they require more complex environments with terrestrial and aquatic areas.
When bearded dragons are in a body of water, they can inhale air, expand their bodies, and float at the top.
This ability allows them to float and relax on top of the water when they need a break from actively swimming.
Bearded dragons are surprisingly good swimmers for reptiles who do not need an aquatic environment to survive.
Once they enter the water, they slither around, moving back and forth, resembling the actions of a swimming crocodile.
Beardies are quick and agile.
Allowing these pets time to swim is beneficial for them and entertaining for owners.
You should never place your beardie in a large pool of deep water.
Always let them enter at their own pace.
You may encourage them to enter the water by splashing their fingers in the water and causing waves.
Bearded dragons struggle to see still water and may not know there is anything in the basin.
To work you and your beardie up to full-on swim sessions, start with weekly baths.
Bearded Dragon Baths
One way to introduce your pet dragon to swimming is by bathing it from time to time.
Like humans and many other animals, bearded dragons need to bathe regularly.
It is recommended you give your pet lizard a warm bath two to three times per week.
Regular baths are essential for good hygiene and maintaining hydration levels.
An easy way to draw a bath for your beardie is plugging the sink and filling it with warm tap water the same way you would bathe an infant.
Be sure to use warm water and never add any soaps or detergents to the bath.
A bath without soap may seem unusual, but these lizards do not need soaps to get clean, and most soaps and detergents are irritants for them.
Many bearded dragons are likely to drink water while in the bath, so adding soaps to the water could be harmful.
These reptiles are lovers of water and will likely enjoy bath time and other swimming activities.
If you are wary of their first bath, consider placing a huge water bowl in the enclosure.
The bowl should be large enough for your beardie to soak in.
This practice will introduce your pet to soaking in the bath and allow them to enter the water by choice.
If you start with a large water bowl as an introduction to water, you will want your pet to graduate to baths quickly.
Keep in mind; you should bathe these reptiles several times per week.
You want to expose them to water the week you bring them home.
This will keep your beardies clean, hydrated and will get them used to spend time in a body of water.
Once your beardies are taking baths in a sink or container with water regularly, consider filling a bathtub with water next.
Using a bathtub will give these animals more room to swim around.
When you are filling the bathtub, you will need to keep a few things in mind.
First, you want to ensure your tap water is clean and the water temperature is suitable for swimming.
You will need to keep your pets in relatively shallow water, with the water level reaching only their shoulders’ height.
Although these creatures are good swimmers, you want to be sure they can keep their heads above water at all times.
Some bearded dragon owners report their beardies voluntarily dunk their heads in the water.
If your beardie puts its head underwater, do not panic.
Bearded dragons can hold their breath substantially longer than humans, usually for several minutes at a time.
With more opportunities for swimming, your beardie will likely become more adventurous and may swim underwater.
Bearded dragons should only be in the water for a bath or a swim for 15 to 20 minutes.
More than 20 minutes of swimming is dangerous for these lizards.
Never let your beardie swim to the point of exhaustion.
This may lead to possible drowning and is easily avoided by limiting water time.
Bearded Dragon Swim Gym
If you are interested in allowing your bearded dragons to swim for exercise, consider setting up a swimming gym for them.
A bathtub or kiddie pool are both suitable for this.
A swim gym is essentially an exercise facility you create in the water.
Filling a kiddie pool with warm to lukewarm water and placing various toys inside for your beardie to climb on and swim around is an excellent form of entertainment.
You want to avoid placing your pet in deep water or cold water.
If the water level is too high, you increase the risk of your lizard drowning.
If the water is too cold, you risk your beardie freezing or getting sick.
Bearded dragons are cold-blooded reptiles, meaning they rely on their surroundings to regulate their body temperatures.
Never place your reptiles in chlorine water.
This chemical will irritate their eyes and is harmful to them when ingested.
If you are using a kiddie pool or large container outside for your swim gym, filling it with fresh water from the hose is an easy option.
It is sometimes difficult to regulate the temperature of your hose water.
If the water coming from the hose is cold, warm it up by adding a few gallons of hot water.
If you are unsure whether your hose water is clean enough for your beardie to play in, add a water conditioner tablet.
These conditioners will purify the water and are found online or at most pet supply stores.
Place objects such as rocks and branches in the swim gym.
Even small floats and children’s toys are great additions.
These objects will provide your beardies with little islands to swim to and climb on while enjoying their swim gym.
Benefits of Swimming
Swimming is a beneficial activity for bearded dragons for several reasons.
The most obvious benefit is the mental stimulation and physical exercise your pet will experience.
Many beardies in captivity are out of shape and do not get enough physical activity daily.
These are naturally curious and active animals, so providing them with a swimming gym will be greatly appreciated.
The environmental stimulation will help exercise your pet’s mind.
A stimulated pet is a happy pet, so be sure to encourage their exploration.
And speaking of happy pets, you might want to check out our post on how to tell if your bearded dragon is happy.
We go into details on the behaviors that show happiness and the ones that do not in your pet in that post.
Another benefit of an aquatic gym is aiding in the shedding process.
Bearded dragons shed at different frequencies throughout their lives.
As a juvenile under six months of age, a beardie will shed its skin every few weeks.
It will shed once every one to two months from the ages of six months to one year.
After one year of age, bearded dragons shed much less frequently.
An adult beardie will shed its skin a few times per year.
When your beardie is shedding its skin, putting it in the bath or allowing them to swim in an aquatic gym will aid in this process.
The water and various objects the lizard climbs on will help loosen and remove the skin.
Swimming also provides bearded dragons with much-needed hydration.
Even though they are scaly reptiles, they still need to stay hydrated and absorb water through their skin.
Your beardies will likely drink some of the water as they enter the pool or bathtub for a swim.
Don’t worry if they don’t drink the water; they will still get plenty of hydration while swimming around or simply soaking.
The final benefit of allowing your bearded dragons to swim is digestion aid.
Swimming and spending time in the water encourages bowel movements and can alleviate pain and the severity of your pet’s impact.
Impaction refers to a situation where a solid mass blocks a bearded dragon’s digestive tract.
Bearded dragons usually have a fast working digestive system, and impaction will prevent them from digesting the food in their body.
This is a serious situation which requires immediate attention.
If impaction is left untreated, it is detrimental to a beardie’s health and may be fatal.
Impaction is usually caused by an improper diet or the consumption of unsafe substrate.
If your beardie ingests its substrate or is fed an insect larger than the space between its eyes, it will most likely lead to this medical issue.
If your beardie is suffering from impaction, you may want to give it a warm bath and the opportunity to swim to encourage digestion.
If this time in the water does not alleviate the situation, it is essential to immediately contact your veterinarian or a medical professional.
Dangers of Swimming
Any activity comes with its share of possible dangers. Swimming and baths for bearded dragons are no exception.
Although these animals are naturally skilled swimmers and generally enjoy spending time in the water, there are several risks associated with these activities.
The main risk of allowing your bearded dragon to swim is drowning.
Beardies can make themselves float and have the ability to hold their breath for an extended period; however, these animals need to breathe oxygen to stay alive.
The most likely cause of a bearded dragon drowning is exhaustion.
You should never place your pet lizard in a large body of water or a basin of deep water.
Deep water with no islands or objects to grip onto when feeling exhausted is dangerous for anyone, including beardies.
These animals should never be allowed to swim in a large pond or lake.
As we just mentioned, these bodies of water are much too large and deep to be safe for your beardies to enjoy.
They also increase the risk of losing sight of your beardie or exposing them to dangerous predators.
Allow your pet ample time to enjoy themselves in the water and soak up some much-needed hydration.
At the same time, you must be mindful of the total length of time they are in these aquatic environments.
Anything longer than 20 minutes is dangerous and is highly likely to cause exhaustion.
Your beardie may need even shorter baths and swim sessions depending on its physical health and personal preferences.
Never force them to swim when they do not want to, and be mindful of how long it takes your beardies to get tuckered out.
Although these animals are not naturally aquatic, bearded dragons are excellent swimmers, and most beardies thoroughly enjoy spending time in the water.
Baths are essential for keeping your pet clean and hydrated.
Feel free to take bath time a step further and provide your dragon with time in a swimming gym.
It is important to keep both the benefits and the dangers of swimming in mind when allowing your beardie to enter the water.
Be mindful of your pets’ preferences, and never leave them unattended in water, whether it is a shallow bath or deep swim gym.