Maybe you’re just plain curious, or perhaps you’ve been assigned a school project and you need to know lots of penguin facts to complete it. Either way, this guide contains all the penguin information you’re ever likely to need!
This is just one in a series of animal fun facts posts. Whether you’re curious about crocodiles or excited by echidnas, find more of our fun-filled animal guides here.
Fast fun penguin facts
Penguins are birds, though unlike many other feathered creatures, they are flightless. In the wild, all species – apart from the Galapagos Penguin – live south of the equator. So despite what you might expect, there are no penguins to be found at the North Pole!
Penguins are fascinating creatures. What other species can you think of that looks like it’s all dressed up for a formal dinner, while waddling around on a pair of wide, webbed feet? There’s so much more to know about penguins than this, though.
So let’s dive into some of the more interesting pieces of penguin information! Beginning with 10 facts about penguins that are really cool to know.
10 fun facts about penguins
To prove that penguins truly are awesome, here’s our top 10 penguin facts.
- Instead of wings for flying, penguins have a pair of solid, streamlined flippers to propel them through the water.
- On land, a group of penguins can be called a waddle! When in the ocean, they’re known as a raft.
- Other names that a group of penguins goes by are a colony, a huddle, a convent or a rookery.
- Penguins do in fact huddle together pretty often, in an effort to stay warm or protect themselves from predators.
- Unlike us humans, penguins can, and do, drink sea water. Yum!
- Male penguins may give females rocks as gifts, which they use for nest-building. Aww.
- That formal tuxedo a penguin appears to be wearing is actually for camouflage, and is known as countershading.
- Penguins have an oil gland close to their tail, and spend many hours adding this waterproof coating to their feathers.
- Some penguin species can walk up to 60 miles, across the ice, to reach the right breeding ground.
- You’d never see penguins and polar bears together in the wild, because penguins live in the southern hemisphere and polar bears reside in the north.
Where do penguins live?
So now we’ve uncovered some cool facts about penguins, where do these flightless birds actually live?
Penguins live on a number of continents and in various countries. Some species can be found here in Australia and also in New Zealand. There are also plenty of penguins in South Africa, and in South American countries like Argentina, Chile and Peru. Penguins also inhabit the Galapagos Islands, off the Ecuador coast.
In fact the Galapagos Penguin living on these islands is the only penguin species living north of the equator in the wild. Otherwise you’ll only find penguins in the southern hemisphere, or at a zoo or wildlife centre.
Penguins divide their time between land and water, spending about half on or in each. Streamlined penguin body parts have evolved to make them very efficient swimmers, and their camoflage also helps to protect them from hungry predators. Their black backs and white fronts make them hard to spot when viewed from above the ocean, or beneath its surface.
A penguin spends some of its time in the water feasting on fish and other forms of marine life such as shrimps, squid or crabs.
Fun penguin facts by species
There are 18 species of penguin, and all have their own characteristics. Instead of listing, say, 100 facts about penguins in general, let’s take a closer look at certain species – and what’s cool about each one. As you’ll discover, penguin characteristics and behaviour do vary quite a lot between species!
Here are 5 facts about penguins from some of the most popular species. Including Emperor penguin fun facts, penguin mating facts about how eggs are laid and incubated, and cute penguin facts that are totally adorable!
Emperor penguin facts
- The Emperor is the tallest type of penguin, and can reach up to 1.2 metres in height.
- Mega penguin fossils show that the ancient ancestors of Emperor penguins may have been up to 2 metres tall.
- In Antarctica, where they live, Emperor penguins often huddle in groups to cope with the extremely cold temperatures.
- Up to 50% of Emperor penguins could disappear if global average temperatures rise by only 2 degrees centigrade.
- The male looks after the single egg laid by the female Emperor penguin for about 65 to 75 days, until a fluffy penguin chick hatches out.
King penguin facts
- Next up in terms of size is the King, the second biggest penguin species.
- Until 1884, Emperor and King penguins were thought to be the same species.
- In fact King penguin chicks were once known as woollly penguins, as due to vastly different looks they were considered a separate breed.
- The King penguin has the most striking yellow to orange feathers of all species on its chest and head.
- King penguins are incredible hunters, and each can catch up to 2,000 fish per day.
Gentoo penguin facts
- Gentoo penguins are closely related to Adelie penguins.
- A Gentoo penguin will be about 0.7 metres tall on average, and is the third-largest species after Emperor and King penguins.
- If they can, Gentoo penguins will seek out ice-free terrain such as coastal plains and cliffs, or well-sheltered valleys.
- Adult Gentoo penguins are thought to be the most romantic of these flightless birds, and parents often build long-lived bonds between them.
- Gentoos will go a long way for food – up to 16 miles away or 655 feet deep.
Adelie penguin facts
- The Adelie penguin lives on the Antarctic continent and is the most widespread species of penguin.
- Adelie penguins like to eat krill best – a tiny kind of shrimp – but will also consume squid or fish.
- A female Adelie penguin usually lays two eggs in a nest in the ground which will hatch in December.
- The parents of young Adelie penguins may both hunt for food at once while their offspring stay in what’s known as a creche with other young penguins.
- In spring, vast colonies of Adelie penguins gather on the rugged Antarctic coastline.
Little penguin facts
- Little penguins are a native Australian and New Zealand species of penguin.
- If you’re looking for little blue penguin facts, it’s worth knowing that this is another name for the Little penguin. They may also be called Kororā or Fairy penguins.
- Next on the list of Fairy penguin facts is that their bluish colouring gives them camouflage when swimming, as well as their name.
- A Little or Fairy penguin has a big appetite, consuming its own body weight’s worth of food per day.
- The biggest Australian colony of Fairy penguins is on Phillip Island in Victoria, and they are a pretty popular tourist attraction.
Magellanic penguin facts
- Magellanic penguins are native to South America, specifically Argentina, the Falkland Islands and Chile. Some have also migrated further, however.
- Magellanic penguins are named after one of the explorers who first discovered them.
- A Magellanic penguin is black and white, with some pink on the face.
- These penguins often forage for food in groups, and may dive up to 90 metres in pursuit of prey.
- Female Magellanic penguins typically lay two eggs, twice per year each, making a total of four.
Humboldt penguin facts
- Humboldt penguins live in coastal parts of Chile and Peru.
- These penguins can swim at speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour.
- A hHmboldt penguin will often use its sharp claws to clamber up coastal rocks and cliffs.
- Like the Magellanic penguin, the Humboldt has pink patches on its face, which are actually used to expel excess body heat.
- Humboldt penguins often step over sleeping sea lions when on the move, even though they are their predators.
Macaroni penguin facts
- The Macaroni is a type of crested penguin, and is a close relative of the Royal penguin.
- This penguin has a very distinctive yellow crest of feathers, which extends backwards from above the eyes.
- Male and female Macaroni penguins share the duty of incubating the eggs, swapping over once every week to 12 days.
- The song Yankee Doodle mentions macaroni – a reference to the fact that men wearing feathers like this penguin were sometimes referred to as macaroni.
- Macaroni penguins aso have red eyes.
Chinstrap penguin facts
- It’s super simple to identify the Chinstrap penguin, due to the black stripe like a helmet strap under its chin.
- There are more Chinstrap penguins in the Antarctic than any other kind.
- Unusually for penguins, juvenile Chinstraps look very much like older ones.
- Chinstrap penguins are very sociable, and they live in colonies.
- These penguins are particularly good at making long jumps and propelling themselves.
Galapagos penguin facts
- Galapagos penguins are the only type found in the wild within the northern hemisphere.
- There are thought to be less than 2,000 in total, so they are an endangered species.
- These relatively small penguins are only about half a meter tall.
- The Galapagos penguins only live on the islands of the same name, off the Ecuador coast.
- These islands are known for their diverse and unique range of plant and animal species.
Rockhopper penguin facts
- Rockhoppers are very difficult to classify, even by wildlife experts.
- They are small crested penguins with a very unique look.
- As well as a narrow yellow crest, Rockhoppers have spiky feathers on their heads.
- Rockhopper penguins are named and known for their jumping skills.
- A rockhopper penguin can jump up to 2 metres – around 4 times its height.
Yellow eyed penguin facts
- The Yellow Eyed penguin is native to the south of New Zealand.
- Yellow Eyed penguins are paler in colour than other species, with more yellow and brown than black.
- Some scientists think the Yellow eyed penguin is the oldest species on the planet.
- This penguin is a great swimmer and often outswims any predator.
- These penguins nest privately rather than in colonies.
information about penguins for kids
With plenty of interesting facts about Emperor penguins as well as 11 other species, we hope you’ve found this list of amazing facts about penguins interesting and helpful! There’s definitely some random penguin facts and penguin trivia to impress your friends with, right?
One of the key things about penguins is that we must take care of them. Galapagos penguin fun facts aside, some species are endangered. Fortunately some humans are prepared to do all they can to save wildlife, so the best we can do is to learn all we can while supporting their efforts fully.
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