Penguin Facts

The penguin has been a symbol of the one flightless bird everyone loves.

A favorite in movies and cartoons, their funny way of walking has caused them to be endeared by people everywhere.

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Penguin Facts for Kids

  • Penguins have flippers, not wings.
  • They live between 6-20 years.
  • Penguins lay their eggs on land.
  • Most live in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • They eat krill, fish, squid, and other sea creatures.
  • Their predators are sharks, orcas, and leopard seals.

Types of Penguins

Emperor Penguin

The emperor penguin is the biggest penguin species and is taller than heavier than all others. They live in Antarctica and can weigh anywhere from 49 to 99 pounds. They have black feathers on the head and white on the belly, but they also have pale yellow feathers on the breast and ear patches of bright yellow feathers.

The males and females tend to be about the same height and weight, averaging about 39 inches in height. These penguins mostly eat fish, but they also have crustaceans, like krill, in their diets, as well as eating squid.

They can dive up to 1,755 feet under the water and stay underwater for about 20 minutes. The female will lay one egg, and then the male incubates the egg for two months as the mothers go out to sea to eat. Both parents take turns caring for the chick and going to the sea for food.

Little Penguin

This is the very smallest type of penguin. It grows to be 13 inches to 17 inches, and it weighs less than a pound. The small size of the little penguin has also encouraged their nickname- fairy penguins. These are the only penguins who have a blue color.

The slate-blue color has a contrasting white belly that is so familiar with penguin varieties. This type of penguin is thought to be the first type that evolved from birds that fly.

Their plain plumage may be the least distinctive of all penguins, and they live in areas of sand and rocks instead of areas covered by ice and snow. They are found in the southern parts of New Zealand, and Australia and are believed to be found in Chile as well.

The little penguin eats a variety of foods from the sea, including krill, anchovies, small octopuses, sea horses, and crab larvae.

King Penguin

The king penguin is second in size only to the emperor penguin. It’s a little bit smaller, but it greatly resembles the emperor. They are found in the South Atlantic Ocean and the South Indian Ocean on a number of small islands.

They eat krill, squid, and lanternfish, but they also have a lot of predators that eat them. The orca and the leopard seal are just two animals that hunt them. King penguins can dive to more than 300 feet beneath the water.

When king penguins are both, they take longer to mature than other penguins. While most penguins are adults who go out to sea within three months, these penguins take from 14 to 16 months to become mature.

They have a more slender build than most penguins, and this allows them more elegant movements. They grow to about 3 feet in height and weigh about 33 pounds. 

Adélie Penguin

The Adélie penguin lives only in Antarctica, living along the coasts of the entire continent. It is the penguin that lives in the more southerly area. The penguin was named after the wife of the French explorer who discovered this variety of penguin back in 1840.

These penguins spend each winter away from the shore on the pack ice of Antarctica. The lovely coloring of the Adélie penguin gives them a sharp contrast between their black back feathers and their bright-white bellies.

These penguins grow to be about 28 to 29 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 9 to 13 pounds. The females are slightly smaller and lighter than the males. They forage for food as well as being predators of small sea animals.

They mostly eat fish and krill. The Adélie penguin is one of the groups of penguins known as brush-tailed because they have long tail feathers. 

African Penguin

This type of penguin is also called the South African penguin or the Cape penguin because of the area it lives in. It stays in the waters of southern Africa. Adult African penguins weigh about 5 pounds to about 8 pounds, and they can grow to 24 inches to 28 inches tall.

Above their eyes are pink skin patches, and they have a facial mask of black feathers. Their distinct looks also include white parts that are spotted and have a black band across them.

The pink areas over their eyes are there to help them to better regulate their temperature in an area that has a wide range of temperatures. Blood goes to those glands and gets cooled by air before it goes back into circulation.

These penguins eat a diet of mostly fish, such as herrings, anchovies, and sardines. They also eat other sea life that they find, including shellfish.

Penguin CamWatch San Diego Zoo African Penguins Live

Galapagos Penguin

The Galapagos penguin is one of the very smallest of these flightless birds. They grow to a height of about 21 inches tall, and they weigh anything from 4 to 6 pounds. It is the only kind of penguin that lives north of the Earth’s equator.

They live among the Galapagos Islands and have special adaptations that allow them to live in this warm environment. They have black feathers on their flippers, back, and head and have a black stripe across their white bellies that goes from their neck up to their eyes.

The Galapagos penguin breeds all year long and can live to be as old as 15 to 20 years. The males are a little bit larger and heavier than the females. They eat krill, fish such as mullet, and many crustaceans. They swim in hunting groups to grab sea life from the bottom or the sides of the group.

Macaroni Penguin

This type of penguin lives in the Antarctic Peninsula to the Subantarctic Islands. This is one of the six types of crested penguins. This means that the penguin has a crest of yellow feathers on its head that give it an unusual look. It is so much like the royal penguin that some researchers believe they are the same species.

The adult macaroni penguins weigh about 12 pounds and grow to be about 28 inches tall. The males are a little bit larger than the females, are stronger, and have a bill that is larger.

This type of penguin was named macaroni, not after the food but because young men who wore a hat with bright feathers on it were called macaronis. They eat small animals that they find in the ocean, such as krill. This species is considered vulnerable because of overfishing and other animals being introduced to the area. 

Chinstrap Penguin

The chinstrap penguin is one that lives in many areas across the Antarctic and Southern Pacific Oceans. It has a thin black band that runs under its head. It looks much like the penguin is wearing a helmet, and hence the name.

It is sometimes called a ringed penguin or a stonecracker penguin because it has an extremely loud call. This type of penguin is the most populous one in the Antarctic, with as many as 13 million of them living on the Antarctic Peninsula and the Subarctic area.

The chinstrap penguin lives in huge colonies and often find large icebergs to live on in the ocean. These penguins eat animals that live in shallow waters, such as small fish, krill, and a number of small crustaceans.

They hunt for food by diving to catch it while staying close to their large breeding groups. 

Humboldt Penguin

This penguin lives in South America and is mainly found in the north part of Chile as well as the coastal areas of Peru. They are closely related to the African and Galapagos penguins.

They get their name from a scientist who explored the area in 1799. This species is considered a vulnerable one, and only about 32,000 of these adult penguins are living today, with their population currently falling.

The Humboldt penguin is sometimes called the Peruvian penguin for the area it lives in. It has pink skin around its face and has a wide, black band that goes down its sides and across the abdomen.

They travel a long way between where they breed and where they feed. These penguins burrow and make their nesting sites in fecal matter. They eat small sea creatures like squid, krill, and sardines. They can dive down to 492 feet under the water. 

Gentoo Penguin

The gentoo penguin is the third largest variety out of all penguins. They are closely related to the chinstrap penguin. They have a loud, trumpeting call that this penguin throws back its head and makes. It has a white band over both eyes as well as a large brushtail. It has a black throat, and its bill is mainly red or dark orange.

They are frequent divers and have been observed to dive for food as many as 450 times in a single day. When they dive deep into the ocean, they are able to get their heart rates to go from about 100 beats per minute to just 20.

They can be found on the Antarctic Peninsula as well as in the Falkland Islands, South Shetland Islands, and other islands in the area. There are about 300,000 pairs of these penguins. They face skuas and other birds trying to steal their chicks and eggs. 

Fiordland Penguin

The Fiordland penguin is a type of crested penguin that lives in New Zealand, and it’s sometimes called the New Zealand crested penguin. This penguin is medium-sized and has a yellow feather band that goes from its nose to its eyes and over its neck.

It has a large orange beak, and the females’ beaks are smaller than the males. It grows to about 17 inches high and weighs about 8 pounds. They have small breeding colonies that are usually in inaccessible areas along the shores of the islands.

They arrive on beaches in July and stay through December. The population of Fiordland penguins has been in decline since humans have lived in the area. It eats several types of fish, as well as octopus, squid, and krill.

We still don’t know much about their hunting techniques, as they do so in inaccessible areas. 

Magellanic Penguin

This type of penguin lives in South America in the coastal Patagonia region. It is named after Ferdinand Magellan, the explorer who saw this penguin type in 1520. The Magellanic penguin is considered near threatened, with its numbers on the decline.

It has a small area of pink skin on its face, a U-shaped black band across its abdomen and chest, and white feathers that form a crescent from the eyes to the chin. This type of penguin faces a number of predators, including killer whales, leopard seals, sea lions, and Patagonian foxes.

Birds try to take the chicks and eggs. A male without a mate looks for one by making a braying noise that sounds much like a donkey. The Magellanic penguin eats a variety of small fish, including sprats, sardines, and anchovies.  They grow to be about 24 to 30 inches tall and weigh from about 6 to 14 pounds. 

Royal Penguin

The royal penguin is closely related to the macaroni penguin and is the largest of the crested types of penguins. This penguin type is classified as near threatened and lives on a number of Subantarctic islands such as Macquarie Island.

It has a large bill that is orange and an orange-yellow crest of feathers that starts on the forehead and goes across the top and sides of its head. Their chins are gray or white. They are good swimmers, swimming at about 4 miles per hour most of the time and being able to swim 6 miles per hour.

These penguins migrate, leaving their colonies at certain times to go onto the ocean. About half of their diet is krill, with the other half being squid and lanternfish. Royal penguins eat so much fish that it’s estimated that the entire species eats about 90 million fish each year. 

Crested Penguins

These penguins are medium-sized and have yellow feathers that begin as eyebrows and extend to the back of the head. The males are a little bit bigger than the females, and they have heavier bills, but both have similar yellow crests.

There are at least four varieties of crested penguins, with some researchers recognizing seven, and all of them live in the islands of the Subantarctic in the southern oceans. The crested penguin lays two eggs, but only one of them is raised by the parents.

The second egg is much larger than the first, and scientists don’t yet know why. The first egg is often removed from the nest before it is hatching time. The crested penguin eats krill, small fish, small crustaceans, and squid. Orcas and leopard seals prey on this penguin type, and one variety of crested penguin has already gone extinct. 

Southern Rockhopper Penguin

This type of penguin lives in the waters of the Subantarctic of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as well as living on the South American southern coasts. These penguins are named after their hopping motions.

They are known for bursting out of the water near a shore and belly-flopping onto the rocks. They have yellow eyebrows that are made from long feathers. They have deep red eyes and bright orange beaks. They are a small type of penguin growing to about 2 feet tall and weighing just a few pounds.

The Southern rockhopper penguin has numbers on the decline, with its numbers going down by 34% over the past 30 to 40 years. There are currently about 320,000 pairs of these penguins. They usually stay in shallow waters, but they can dive to about 330 feet under the water. This type of penguin eats fish, cephalopods, and krill.

Yellow-Eyed Penguin

This type of penguin is one of the rarest in the world. It has yellow eyes and a yellow line that goes from the eyes to the back of its head. These penguins can grow to be about 30 inches tall. They eat fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans, among other sea animals. They breed once each year with the same mate.

The female lays two eggs per year, and the couple takes turns incubating them until it’s time for them to hatch. The two chicks remain with the parents until they are about a year old. The yellow-eyed penguin lives in the forested areas of New Zealand’s southeast coast.

The number of predators on land has increased, and the forests are being cut down, and now the population in the wild has fewer than 4,000 of these penguins. It is considered an endangered species. The yellow-eyed penguin eats small crustaceans, fish, and squid but mainly eats krill. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some Penguin habitats?

Did you know that penguins spend most of the time in the water? but of course, they also spent time on land where you will find them in colonies.

There are many different species of penguin some like Cold Water, tropical beaches, spending time on ice and you also find them on rocky coastal areas.

Where do penguins live?

You will find many penguins in the southern hemisphere. they can be found in places like the Galapagos Islands and in places like Antarctica.

They inhabit many different countries like Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Antarctica, and many subarctic islands.

What do penguins eat?

They are expert swimmers and can swim to deep levels in search of prey. You will find that their diet can vary depending on where they live, but generally, they will eat Krill, fish, and squid.

Penguins are listed as meat-eaters (carnivores) and they have a very big appetite. Some large penguin groups eat so much that they can actually make a severe difference in the amount of food left for other creatures.

Each species can have particular habits related to where they live, the availability of food and sometimes the dangers that they can face from other predators can contribute to some of their behaviors. They can be very sociable and at the same time very shy. Some of their behavior can be very naughty and very temperamental.

There are some penguins that are die-hard hunters when it comes to their food. The yellow-eyed penguins will dive as deep as 120 meters (393.70 ft.) and as many as two hundred times a day in search of fish.

What do penguins say?

Penguins can communicate in a number of different ways they use things like eye contact and body movement to help express what they want. But they can also be very noisy and use different types of sounds for each situation.

What do penguins drink?

Like us, penguins like to drink water the amazing thing about them is that they can drink saltwater. Something that was humans don’t do.

The only reason they can do this is that they have special glands that allow them to extract excess salts from their blood. This is done by excreting a salty fluid from their nose. When on land they also drink from fresh pools of water streams when they have access to this.

How do penguins sleep?

One of the things that they can do is sleep for a few minutes at a time during the day or at night time. They do of course sleep for longer periods on land during the night.

They can sleep in various positions standing up, lying down for example. You will also find them sitting in the water and I’m sure you have seen the classic images of penguins sleeping with part of their bill tucked under a flipper.

When do penguins lay eggs?

I suppose this depends on the breed of penguin but in general, between three and eight years old a penguin is mature enough to do this. King penguins usually lay a single egg with many of the other species laying two.

I’m sure you have seen many nature programs on TV that will show Emperor penguins the female will leave the egg on the male’s feet to keep it warm whilst she will go out and hunt for several weeks for food.

More Fun Facts

  • Penguins can’t fly but they can take to the air when they leap from the water onto the ice.
  • The Gentoo Penguin can reach top speeds of 22 miles an hour.
  • On average most Penguins can swim between 4 and 7 miles an hour.
  • Did you know that most Penguins live in the Southern hemisphere?
  • They spend about half of their time in the water and half on land.
  • Penguins are black and white which gives them good camouflage whilst in the water from predators. From above they cannot be seen because of the dark ocean color and from underneath the white blends in well with the sunlight.
  • Most of them live in places like Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, and Chile.
  • The Emperor Penguins is found in Antarctica is one of the tallest and heaviest penguin species. at 91.44-111.75 cm (36-44 in.) tall and weighing in at 27.21-40.82 kg. (60-90 lbs.) The smallest is the little blue, also just called the ‘little’ penguin, and grows to only 25.4-30.48 cm. (10-12 in.) tall and only weighs .90-1.36 kg (2-3 lbs.)
  • Penguins have torpedo-shaped bodies and there are actually 19 species of penguins living in the southern regions of the globe.
  • Penguins come in a variety of sizes but also have an array of colors and adornments. Besides the black and white penguin that we are familiar with: the crested penguin has yellow feathers that create a crown, emperor and king penguins have yellow and orange blushes around their necks; bushy yellow eyebrows are on the heads of some penguins and many have crests of features on their head as well as masks.
  • Penguins are marine birds living around eighty percent of their lives in the ocean water. Penguins live on every continent of the earth’s Southern Hemisphere.
  • Two myths are that penguins live in Antarctica and that penguin only live where it’s cold. Neither of these is true. There are penguins that live on equator tropical islands, such as the Galapagos penguin.
  • When you see a group of penguins together, that is called a ‘colony’. Penguins will mate almost every year with the same mate.
  • Some penguins lay only one egg, while others will lay two eggs. Both parents will take turns placing the egg on their feet and covering it with the warmth of their features.
  • The emperor penguin is the only exception to this, as the male is the caretaker of the egg.