The most common answer to the question, “can peacocks swim?” is “no”. This isn’t strictly true, however, as there are plenty of videos showing peacocks and peahens swimming. Still, they’re not great at swimming, and you’ll rarely see them doing so.
So, the correct answer is; yes, peacocks can swim a little if they really need to. They’re not great at swimming, and may even need help if they’re in the water too long.
But don’t panic if one of your peafowls takes a dip!
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Can Peacocks Swim or Not?
It’s funny because this is one of those questions that the whole of the internet seems to have answered the same, contrary to seeing evidence otherwise.
I researched dozens of articles before writing this, and they all said quite emphatically that peacocks and peafowl, in general, cannot swim.
This is not strictly true, however. I was also able to find a few videos of peacocks clearly swimming without any distress.
Here’s one video showing a white peacock taking a causal swim among some ducks without any issues:
Before anyone who owns peacocks opens up the gates and invites their birds to take a swim, I'm not suggesting all peacocks can swim or that it's safe for them to do so.
I'm simply showing you that it is possible, and it's not strictly correct to just say ‘no’ if someone asks you whether or not a peacock can swim.
Can Peahens Swim?
For those that aren't too familiar with peafowl, peacocks are the males and the females are called peahens.
In regards to whether or not peahens can swim, we have to assume that they also can. In fact, peahens are lighter and have shorter tail feathers, so it should be a little easier for them to stay afloat and move around in the water.
Why Peafowl Are Not Great at Swimming
The main reason why most people think peacocks cannot swim is that they are clearly not designed to do so.
Some of the more obvious reasons why peafowl are not great at swimming include:
Lack of webbed feet - Most animals great at swimming, like ducks, have webbed feet. webbed feet help to propel birds through water, and keep them afloat so they don't drown.
Heavy feathers - Another design feature that you’ll notice birds and animals that are great at swimming have in common - they don't have large and heavy feathers. Peacocks have one of the largest tail displays of any bird spanning up to 2 meters in length.
They’re not ‘waterproof’ - Ducks preen themselves and spread oils across their feathers to make themselves waterproof. Peacocks also preen and take care of themselves, but they're not able to do it to the extent that they can waterproof their feathers.
Simply put, if you put a peacock next to a duck or a swan, it's pretty obvious who's built for swimming and who is not.
Do Peacocks Like Water?
If you look at the history of peafowl and where they originate from, this also helps you understand why they’re not designed for swimming.
Of the three main species of peafowl, the most popular species of peafowl, the Indian blue peacock is native to India. The African Congo peacock, as the name suggests, is native to the Congo in Africa, and the Green peacock is native to Burma.
All of these areas are either deserts, dry savannas, or forests. So, you could say that a peacock’s natural habitat is a dry one.
Obviously, they are kept as backyard pets all over the world and in all climates. In my experience, peafowls enjoy a little rainfall and don't shy away from it.
I'll admit, I've never personally seen one jump in the water and have a swim though.
Do Peacocks Bathe in Water?
Now you know that peacocks do not particularly like water, the next natural question is; how do peacocks take a bath or clean themselves?
Peacocks take what is called a dust bath. This is how most birds clean themselves, and it's exactly what it sounds like - it involves ’bathing’ which is more accurately described as rolling around in dirt.
You shouldn’t need to do anything. Peafowl will typically dig a shallow hole in the ground where they can loosen up the dirt.
You’ll then see them rolling around and flapping their wings, and often just laying down and resting in their shallow hole.
By allowing loose dirt to get in and amongst their feathers, peafowl are able to get rid of lice, dirt and debris that is collecting in their feathers, and help spread their natural oils.
So, if you want to help ensure your peafowl are nice and clean, you should make sure they have some loose dirt to roll around in, not a large water source.
Now you know, it's a little bit controversial but I'm here to tell you that peacocks can swim if they really need to.
I posted a video above showing this to be the case.
This doesn't mean they like water, and it doesn't mean you will ever see a peacock swimming though.
But I couldn’t just say “no” like I see most other articles saying when I know that it’s not impossible for peafowl to swim!
Image credits - Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash