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Can Iguanas Swim Underwater: How Long Can An Iguana Stay Underwater?

Can Iguanas Swim Underwater: How Long Can An Iguana Stay Underwater?

One of the most common questions among new owners and reptile enthusiasts is can Iguanas swim? Whether or not Iguana can swim is a curiosity for many. For lizards that live in relatively hot and sparse environments, naturally, you would think that iguanas are unable to or be completely ineffective swimmers.

Therefore in this article, I will answer a few questions: can Iguanas swim underwater? If yes, how long can an Iguana stay underwater? And how fast can iguanas swim? In The Wild, Iguanas are associated with making their way through shrubs like areas or even woodland.

So swimming is not one of the first activities that pop into your mind when thinking of an iguana. In their natural Habitat, Iguana doesn’t typically encounter large bodies of water, but even so, they can be surprisingly good at swimming. Let’s first know: can iguanas swim?

Can Iguanas Swim Underwater?

can iguanas swim
can iguanas swim

Even though iguanas are arboreal, most of its species are capable swimmers. Iguanas can inhale Air and float on the water, and they can also hold their breath for a couple of minutes to go underwater. Surprisingly, An Iguana can also drown in deep water if they are too exhausted to stay afloat or for more than 45 minutes.

Therefore, does this mean we should let our Iguana swim? Is there anything we have to bear in mind and consider when letting our Iguana swing underwater?.

Interestingly, there are various types of Iguana swimming abilities that need to be learned by every Iguana keeper. Some certain species are stronger swimmers than others. As Iguana comes from a relatively hot and humid environment with large bodies of water, they often dive and swim away to escape predators in the wild.

Iguanas are widely distributed in the rainforest throughout South and Central America. They are also distributed in various islands of the Caribbean. All these places are home of many rivers and lakes. Therefore they have evolved to swim quite well to traverse lakes and rivers.

Few species of iguanas that reside in the Caribbean islands are known for spending their time staying near water and regularly going swimming for exercise or in search of food. One such species of Iguana that tends to be stronger and fast swimmers is Marine Iguana.

Water-loving Marine Iguana regularly dives into the ocean to find their food like seaweed and algae to eat. On the other hand, species like green Iguanas use their legs, body, and tail to swim. Let’s talk about: How Do Iguanas Swim?

How Do Iguanas Swim?

Common species like green Iguana pull their legs close to their body to become more streamlined and wiggle their tail back and forth to propel themselves through the water. It will look like a torpedo fashion. Some species of Iguana will also use their semi web for swimming from time to time.

Adding to this, iguanas are more muscular and longer than any smaller lizard who can swim. Thus, this feature makes them better suited to swimming. Few Iguana species primarily use their long and strong tails to propel themselves through the water rather than using their legs.

Though iguanas are extremely fast on land, they are not fast swimmers. Iguanas have been seen swimming at the average speed of humans. Adding to this, iguanas cannot maintain their swimming speed for an extended amount of time. Let’s first know: how fast can Iguanas swim?

How Fast Can Iguanas Swim?

An iguana can swim at a speed like the human’s average swimming speed. Even though they are speedy on land, Iguanas can only swim at speeds of around 1.5 feet per second. 

Some species like Marine Iguana are slightly faster than this average since they spend most of their time in the islands of Galapagos, which are surrounded by large water bodies like oceans. Marine Iguana evolved and adapted well to swimming in the ocean and even diving.

Adding to this, Iguanas that dwell on islands are capable of propelling themselves more quickly through the water with the help of their more robust and longer tails than any Iguana living in South or Central America. However, few other species are relatively fast swimmers.

Few species of iguanas that live in dry areas like the desert Iguana are capable of swimming quickly. After knowing how fast they can swim, let’s look at the question: how deep can Iguanas dive.

How Deep Can Iguanas Dive?

If we talk about the best swimmer, marine iguanas can dive up to 98 feet underwater. However, for the most common species of iguanas, they can dive around 16 feet on average. Marine iguanas usually dive very deep into the ocean to forage on foods like seaweeds and algae to munch on. Common Iguana species usually look for food in shallow waters.

How Long Can An Iguana Live Underwater?

how long can an iguana live underwater
how long can an iguana live underwater?

Iguanas are capable of holding their breath longer than any human. Most species of iguanas are capable of holding their death for up to 45 minutes. Some Iguana species that are proficient swimmers can hold their breath and stay underwater for more than 50 minutes.

Iguanas usually dive and stay underwater to hide from predators. Since Iguanas are arboreal and love spending most of their time in the trees, researchers are surprised to see them approaching the waters to swim and floor. Marine Iguana can stay underwater for more than 50 minutes which is a very long time when they munch on algae or seaweed.

Interesting Further Reading

Do Iguanas Like Water?

Yes. Iguana love water because their bodies are well equipped for swimming. They also enjoyed being in the water, at least for a short period every day. They often dive and swim underwater to evade predators, find food, or quickly reach from place to place.

Adding to this one, Iguanas from the islands of the Caribbean are great lovers of water. They enjoy the water and thrive in water with numerals adaptation. In particular, Marine iguanas, with their broad, solid, and paddle-like tails and webbed feet, love diving and swimming in the ocean to find their food.

They are also capable of holding there for more than 50 minutes without having to come to the surface for Air. In captivity, they need a container of water that is sufficient for them to soak their entire body in. Regardless of the species, you have to always put a bathing tub for your Iguana to soak in and assist with shedding their skin.

Many people also prefer putting their iguanas on harnesses and taking them for a quick swim at local swimming pools, rivers, and lakes. When taking them swimming, make sure to avoid any chlorinated water source.



So far, you know that Marine iguanas are the best swimmers and can dive into the ocean as deep as 95 feet underwater. Green iguanas and desert iguanas are also good at swimming to evade predators, search for food, and relocate themselves quicker from one place to another.

By now, you have all the ideas on Iguana swimming abilities. I hope you answered the following questions: can Iguanas swim underwater, and how long can an iguana stay underwater. I have tried my best to gather all the information and compile it in one place for you to learn.

If you like our article and appreciate it, then consider sharing. Your one share can help many people be aware of these great swimming lizards and make them more popular.