|Below is a comprehensive list of the most frequently asked penguin related questions and their answers.
General Penguin Questions
Q.What kind of animal is a Penguin?
A. A penguin is a bird. Penguins have feathers, beaks, wings and they lay eggs.Q. Where do penguins come from? Where do penguins live?
A. All penguins come from the Southern Hemisphere and they live in places ranging from the Galapagos Islands to the coast of Antarctica.
Q. Do penguins have feathers or fur?
A. Penguins have more feathers per square inch then any other bird on earth. The feathers are small and fit together very tightly making them look smooth like fur. Check out the Anatomy Page for more information.Q. Why and when do penguins lose their feathers?
A. Penguins lose all their feathers once per year during the molt. They do this to replace the worn out feathers.Q. How fast can penguins swim?
A. That depends on the size of the penguin. The larger species such as the Emperors and Kings can get up to a maximum of 9mph but usually swim at a more leisurely 7mph. The medium sized penguins such as Rockhopper and Africans travel about 5-6mph. The smallest penguins, little blues, travel at about 1mph but can get up to 5mph in short bursts.Q. How long can penguins hold their breath?
A. The larger species can hold their breath longer then the smaller species. Emperors have been recorded at depths of over 1700ft for 18 minutes while little blue penguins can dive to over 200ft for about 1 minute.Q. How and when do penguins sleep?
A. Penguins sleep on land and while floating at sea. On land they can sleep lying down or standing up sometimes with their head tucked below on wing. Check out the Behaviors Page for more information.Q. Can penguins see underwater?
A. Penguins have good vision both above and below the water. This is due to their ability to alter the shape of the lens of the eye to accommodate both environments. Check out the Anatomy Page for more information.Q. Why are penguins black and white?
A. This coloration is called counter-shading and it is used to camouflage a penguin in the water. From below a penguin’s white belly blends into the bright surface of the ocean while from above a penguin’s dark back disappears into the inky blackness of the ocean below. This camouflage is crucial in avoiding predators and catching prey.
Q. Are penguins endangered?
A. Of the 18 species of penguins in the world 4 species are endangered and 9 others are threatened. A major threat to penguins is human interference and particularly oil spills. (see inset photo) Check out the individual penguins species pages on this site for more information.Q. Do penguins fly?
A. No, although they appear to be flying when swimming under water.Q. Do penguins have knees?
A. Yes, a penguin’s leg is composed of a short femur, knee, tibia and fibula. The upper leg bones are not visible as they are covered in feathers giving penguins a very short legged appearance. Check out the Anatomy Page for more information.
Q. How do penguins stay warm?
A. Penguin feathers offer great insulation as they overlap like the shingles on a roof making them virtually waterproof. Penguins also have a thick layer of blubber below the feathers which together provide a protective envelope.Q. What do baby penguins look like?
A. Penguin chicks are covered in a light down (protoptile plumage) when hatched and soon replace this with a thicker down (mesoptile plumage). The down of a penguin chick can be grey, black, or brown depending on the species.
Q. What are penguin’s natural predators?
A. Squas, giant petrels, leopard seals, fur seals, sea lions, orca and sharks.Q. Do penguins have teeth?
A. No. A penguin’s beak has sharp edges and is hooked to trap wriggling fish. The tongue and roof of the beak is lined with flexible, downward pointing spines which hold on to their slippery food. Check out the Anatomy Page for more information.Q. How long do penguins live?
A. Penguins are long lived. Emperor penguins have been recorded living up to 50 years but generally most species can live 10-20 years.Q. Do penguins have ears?
A. Yes. The ears are located on the sides of the head in the same location as ours but cannot be seen as the ears are covered by the penguin’s dense feathers. A penguin’s ear has no lobes it is just a simple hole.Q. How do penguins feed and protect their young?
A. Parent penguins feed themselves but store some of the food in their stomachs until they arrive at the nest. The parent penguin then regurgitates (throws up) this stored food into the beak of the hungry chick.Q. How many different types of penguins are there?
A. There are 18 species of penguin. Check out the individual world penguins species pages on this site for more information.
Q. Which is the largest penguin?
A. Emperor penguin. Click for more information.Q. Which is the smallest?
A. Little blue penguin. Click for more information.
Q. How long do penguin parents look after their offspring?
A. Penguin parents care for their offspring between 2 and 13 months depending on the species.Q. How fast can penguins walk?
A. Penguins walk or waddle at about 2 mph. Penguins expend a lot of energy when walking compared to other animals. Although walking is very energetically expensive, penguins are still capable walkers with some species walking up to 20 miles to reach their nest sites.Q. Why do penguins waddle?
A. Penguins have a streamlined body for life at sea with their legs placed at the rear of their bodies. On land this gives the penguin an upright stance and their characteristic waddle. Check out the Anatomy Page for more information.Q. Where did the name penguin come from?
A. The name penguin was originally used to describe the now extinct Great Auk which was a large black and white, flightless bird which lived in the Northern Hemisphere. The name was probably transferred to the birds we now know as penguins by the early European explorers due to their similar appearance.Q. What is the taxonomy of penguins?
Family: SpheniscidaeQ. Why do penguins form huddles?
A. In some species the chicks form groups called creches surrounded by adult penguins for protection from predators. Male Emperor penguins huddle together in large groups of up to 5,000 while incubating their eggs during the Antarctic winter in order to be protected from the harsh wind. These slow moving, ever shifting, groups are often referred to as “turtles”.Q. Do penguins migrate?
A. It appears that some species do migrate from their breeding colonies to locations of abundant food supply following the breeding season. Both Rockhopper and Magellanic penguins migrate.
Q. How can you tell male and female penguins apart?
A. Male and female penguins look identical to the untrained eye. Males tend to be heavier then females. The male’s beak tends to be thicker and longer then the females. In order to be certain many zoos and aquariums use a blood sample to perform a DNA test which will determine sex.Q. What is a penguin’s body temperature?
A. About 102 F.Q. How long do penguin eggs incubate?
A. Depending on the species, incubation lengths range from 65 days for Emperor penguins to 33 days for little blue penguins.Q. How do penguins greet each other?
A. Usually mates will greet each other in several ways such as the ‘ecstatic’ display, bowing and quivering.The mutual ‘ecstatic’ display involves the pair facing each other and bowing and then pointing their bills to the sky and braying or trumpeting together. Check out the Behaviors Page for more information.
Q. How long until juvenile penguins become adults?
A. Most juvenile penguins molt into their adult plumage at 1.5-2 years of age.