Can Deer Swim?

Basit Ali Chaudhary

Deer are innocent-looking land mammals, so seeing one swimming in a lake might surprise you. 

Many people wonder, can deer swim? So, the short answer is yes, deer can swim.

In fact, deer are amazing swimmers; their strong leg muscles and powerful hooves and toes let them move through water at incredible speeds. They can swim up to 10-15 mph. They have been spotted swimming in rivers, ponds, and oceans as well. 

The surprising thing about deer is that they’re land animals, and most land animals can’t swim, just like most water creatures can’t walk. Deer usually swim if they need to, such as when they want to protect themselves from predators, cross a river in search of food, or when they are traveling in groups to migrate to different places.

Let’s discover some more interesting facts about deer swimming.

Are Deer Natural Swimmers? How Well Can They Swim?

Without any doubt, deer are natural swimmers; they can swim well. You can think of them as accomplished swimmers. Since they have strong leg muscles, they are able to swim fast, just like they can run fast. Their slick fur and natural guts to maneuver sharply help them to swim well as well.

They can even swim in cold water and can swim long distances for miles. They can keep their muscles oxygenated for a long time when they are in water which enables them to stay in water for quite a long time.

Why are Deer So Good at Swimming?


Deer are good swimmers for a variety of reasons. First, they can run fast and long, which means they have great stamina. Second, their powerful lungs help them keep their muscles and blood oxygenated. They also have strong legs to push their body to move forward underwater. Moreover, deer have sleek fur coats and slender bodies that help them move through water without dragging like humans do when swimming with their heads out. Thus, deer have a natural advantage over other animals which makes them really good swimmers.

Can Deer Swim Better Than Humans?

swimming speed: deer vs human

We humans also love to swim, and swimming is a great sport and hobby enjoyed by many. But the question is, how fast can humans swim?

The fastest speed ever achieved by professional swimmers is 6 mph (9.66 kph). This is the fastest speed any human has ever achieved. And this record was set by Michael Phelps, a world-famous Olympic gold medalist, who set this record in 2010. Another great French swimmer Frederick Bousquet set a global record in swimming freestyle at 164.04 ft (50 m) in a time of 20.94 seconds. 

So, if an Olympic player can swim fastest at 6 mph, then a normal person can hardly swim at a speed of 3-4 mph. On the other side, deer can easily achieve 10-15 mph while swimming, which clearly shows their dominance in swimming when compared to humans.

Why do Deer Swim?

Deer don’t swim too often, but they do so when they feel the need for it. The reasons can be many. The first and most obvious reason is when they are traveling, and they need to cross a river or pond to cross the area. Some deer species, such as mule and reindeer, travel in herds, and they migrate from one place to another either due to extreme weather conditions or due to the scarce availability of food. And they will swim if they encounter water on their way to migration.

It’s also common for deer to move and cross rivers on their way because of food shortages. Last but not least, deer jump into the water to escape predators. The majority of deer predators are land animals, and not every animal can swim. Thus, deer use their swimming ability to protect themselves from predators.

What Deer Species are more Dominant in Swimming?

All deer species can swim quite well. Sika deer, water deer, and whitetail deer, in particular, are good swimmers. Water deer are of the the dominant deer types that are on the top when it comes to swimming. 

Their swimming skills enable them to travel over large bodies of water, expanding their range and exploring their habitat. Their strong front legs are perfect for diving, and their webbed back legs are great for propulsion underwater.

How Far can a Deer Swim?

Deer will swim as much that they want. They are good swimmers, but it does not means that they can swim for hours. More precisely, they can swim easily for 8-10 miles. And in terms of time, 20-30 mins is possible for them to swim. This means it’s quite easy for them to cross different long lakes and rivers with ease.

Deer are land mammals, they are naturally good swimmers, but they prefer to swim in case of need. They don’t have the same capacity and stamina to swim like a fish, but they are good enough to swim decent long distances. 

What is Water Deer? Why is it Specifically Associated with Water?

Source :Wikipedia

Water deer is one of the species of deer commonly found in Mongolia, China, Korea, and Japan. They have further two sub-species named Chinese water deer and Korean water deer. They look similar to musk deer and have a pair of downward-pointing teeth. These deer do not have antlers. 

They are called water deer because they reside along the sides of rivers. They are also found in mountains, swamps, and grass fields. They spend most of their time in shallow water and can swim far and long in search of cover and food. Water deer are adapted to spend their time in shallow water. Their long, bulging eyes and tufts of fur on their heads may make them look like cute woodland creatures, but this breed has evolved specifically for living along rivers. Most of the time, water deer live near or in water, foraging along riverbanks and even taking long swims looking for food or hiding spots.

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