What Is an Amphibious Excavator?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2019
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An amphibious excavator is a piece of heavy equipment that is designed for excavation and other construction activities in boggy, wet conditions. Also known as marsh buggies, amphibious excavators are available from numerous manufacturers, many of which have a line of related products to allow customers to select the most appropriate ones for their needs. Excavation services that use this equipment are available in some regions, and it also is possible to buy or rent an excavator for a project or for general purposes.

Equipment that is designed for working in potentially wet conditions needs to be able to resist water intrusion while functioning on boggy soils or even bodies of water. An amphibious excavator has two broad-tracked pontoons to support its weight. Some designs can power themselves over bodies of water for construction activities in environments where open water is present. Others are capable of navigating very wet conditions but not open water.

This equipment comes with a long arm and attachments for reaching into the soil and bodies of water. One common use for an amphibious excavator is in dredging and excavation of waterways to clear them for navigation or to manage wetlands for crops and environmental purposes. These devices can also cut and control irrigation channels, and they are useful in land reclamation, where the goal is to fill in wet areas to make them more usable.


Like other construction excavators, an amphibious excavator has a heavy engine that is capable of generating considerable power for operations, though the equipment is not very fast, because the energy goes into power rather than speed. Some designs can run on biofuels as well as petroleum-based fuel products, and they might break down to make them easier to transport from one work site to another. Corrosion-resistant paints and coatings typically are necessary on the outside, and the housing can be sealed to protect internal components from water. Proper maintenance is important to keep the equipment in working order and to make sure that the components are appropriately sealed.

Rental of an amphibious excavator can be a good option when one is necessary for a single project. It also is possible to lease equipment in the long term to have regular access without paying for one. Used equipment is sometimes available for companies that want to buy their own but cannot afford the sticker price on a new model. Manufacturers of heavy equipment also sometimes offer incentive programs and sales to attract new customers. These can provide an opportunity to buy equipment at a reduced price.


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