Facts about Penguins

Interesting Penguin Facts

Learning various facts is a great way to expand your knowledge. It can also fuel your interest to learn more about specific species of penguins or certain aspects of their lives.

– All penguin species live in the southern hemisphere, from the Galapagos Islands to the Antarctic continent. None in the wild lives in the North Pole.

– The only penguin that can cross the equator towards the northern hemisphere is the Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus).

– A colony of penguins can have about 20 million individuals during the year.

– Penguins are birds, but they are unable to fly.

– Their bones are denser than those of flying birds; this allows them to float and plunge to moderate depths at will.

– Usually, penguins return to the same place every year to nest.

– All penguins feed on the sea. Their favorite foods are fish, squid, and krill.

– The name of the Adélie penguin or Adelaide penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) is in honor of the wife of Jules Dumont d’Urville, the explorer that discovered it.

– The largest species is the Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) with a height up to 1.2 meters.

– Most penguins can swim at 8-9 kilometers per hour or 2 meters per second.

– Some prehistoric penguins were much bigger than the modern ones; they had a height larger than 1.5 meters and weighed about 91 kilograms.

– Penguins do not have teeth. Instead, their tongue and throat have spiny structures that prevent food from slipping out of their mouth.

– Some species can live up to 15-20 years in the wild. In captivity, their life expectancy is a little higher.

– Each penguin has a unique voice, and that’s why they can recognize each other.

– They are carnivorous animals. The first meal of an emperor penguin chick is a kind of porridge produced by the male throat glands.

– Penguins can drink salt water because they have special glands that drain the liquid out of the nose and expel the salt.

– They probably descend from flying birds, but as they relied more on the ocean resources and evolved, they lost their ability to fly. At least it’s a hypothesis.

– All penguins spend about 75-80 percent of their life at sea, but they mate and nest on land.

– Some penguins can jump from the water to the shore up to 1.8 meters height.Emperor penguin jumping out of the water

– Guano, or penguin droppings, varies in color depending on what they eat. For example, if they eat krill, it has a pinkish color! But if they eat fish, it is white.

– The only species living permanently in the Antarctica are the Emperor Penguin and the Adelie Penguin.

– In average, penguins can submerge to about 100 meters, but this can vary. For example, the emperor penguin reaches up to 500 meters deep.

– The largest penguin species that has existed was the Anthropornis nordenskjoldi, which had a height about 1.7-1.8 meters.

– Elizabethan penguins are not albino but suffer from a genetic mutation that causes the feathers to become pale or white, so their melanin level is very low.

– Penguins are serially monogamous; they only have one partner per reproductive season. The emperor penguin is monogamous throughout its life.

– In some species, when a male courts a female, it usually offers rocks as a gift.

– Centuries ago, it was common that sailors killed penguins to consume their meat and obtain oil.

– Besides the Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) and the king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus), which lay only one egg, all other penguin species lay two eggs.

– Adults change their plumage at least once a year.

Facts on Video





Animals, a visual encyclopedia. Second edition. Smithsonian 2012.

World of Animals Magazine. Issue 04. Imagine publishing.


Spences David, Lloyd. Penguins. Smithsonian.2007.

Lynch, Wayne. Penguins of the world. Firefly. 2007.

BioExpedition Publishing © 2017.