Weird and Interesting Facts About Penguins

Penguins are much loved by many people, be they young or old. In case you’ve always wanted to have an in-depth look at these amazing birds, we prepared some facts for kids and adults!

A penguin is that bird which cannot fly. But it’s so much more than that. You may also think that all penguins have a black-and-white appearance; or that they’re all small. First of all, this flightless bird can be categorized in a series of different species. In fact each of the individuals of a certain species has different colors. Their body size varies, too.penguin-family

19 penguin species currently exist. We know this from the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (or ITIS). Here are their names:

  1. Emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri);
  2. Galápagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus);
  3. Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti);
  4. African penguin (Spheniscus demersus);
  5. Chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica);
  6. King penguin;
  7. Magellanic penguin;
  8. Adélie penguins;
  9. Rockhopper penguin;
  10. Gentoo penguin;
  11. Macaroni penguin;
  12. Little blue penguin;
  13. Royal penguin;
  14. Erect-crested penguin;
  15. Fiordland penguin;
  16. Yellow-eyed penguin;
  17. Snares penguin.


    Galápagos penguin

Let’s take a look at these facts:

  • out of the species above, the most popular is the first one. The Emperor penguin is also the largest of them. It can reach this size: 36-44 inches (which is 91.44-111.76 cm). An individual can weigh 60-90 lbs (27.21-40.82 kg);
  • number 13 is the species with the smallest body size: 10-12 inches (25.4-30.48 cm). The Little blue penguin weighs a maximum of 2-3 lbs (0.90-1.36 kilograms);
  • a penguin’s bones are heavy compared to other birds. This makes it easy for them to swim at really quick speeds;
  • you won’t see ears on a penguin. Be that so, these birds do hear very well. Also, their feet are webbed. A penguin is equipped with feathers that insulate them against freezing temperatures underwater. The feathers keep water away via oil secreted by a penguin’s preen gland. The oil is then spread by the bird across them;
  • the black-and-white colors on a penguin’s body are great for camouflage. In fact the name of this mix of colors is this: “countershading”;
  • an exact number of penguins isn’t yet known. What is known, though, is this: the lowest penguin population is represented by number 2 on our list. In contrast, number 12 has the highest penguin population. According to studies, there are only 6,000-15,000 Galápagos penguins and 11,654,000 Macaroni individuals;
  • a penguin’s habitat is the Southern hemisphere. It can be spotted on all the continents there. Not all of the penguins thrive where temperatures are low. Tropical islands at the equator are particularly loved by the Galápagos penguin. Also, not all of the penguin species live in Antarctica;
  • 80% of a penguin’s life is spent in the ocean. Hunting for food is an activity that also happens there. Speaking of which: the diet of this bird is composed of meat. Here’s a look at their preferred meals: fish and squid. Krill is another important part of their diet. The Yellow-eyed penguin species is known to dive up to 393.70 feet (120 m) for its hunt. Compared to that, other penguin species dive as deep as 60 feet (18,28 m);
  • after the bird finds food, it catches it in its beak. The penguin doesn’t chew its prey; instead, it swallows it in one piece. Feeding is done while the animal is swimming;
  • the most ideal breeding season for penguins is the period between spring and summer. When this happens, females and males will come to the shore. There, they’ll create rookeries. These are colonies made of a large number of pairs;
  • a vast majority of penguins are faithful to only one partner throughout their lives. At 3-8 years old, a male penguin will start prepare for the mating season by selecting the best-looking nest. Only after that will he look for a partner;
  • incubation period for this bird is 1 month-66 days. Almost all penguin species lay 2 eggs. Exceptions to the rule are the Emperor and the King species; the latter’s female produces 1 egg. A female and her partner will both take care of the egg(s). The latter will be held between a parent’s legs. This makes sure the future offspring is kept warm. The Emperor penguin, on the other hand, does things differently. The egg is placed by the mother on the legs of the male. The latter has fat folds that produce a nice temperature for the egg. The mom will then hunt for a couple of weeks;
  • penguin babies are called “chicks”. They hatch after 3 days with help from their beaks. Feeding is done by the parents, who will regurgitate food. Each offspring has a particular call. That’s how the mother recognizes him in a sea of other penguin babies;
  • penguins aren’t solitary birds. They live in groups; this includes nesting, swimming, and eating activities;

There are currently 4 endangered penguin species according to the Red List of Threatened Species from the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They’re the following:

  • Galápagos penguin;
  • Yellow-eyed penguin;
  • Erect-crested penguin;
  • Northern Rockhopper penguin.

Some more interesting and weird facts on penguins:

  • “penguin” comes from an extinct species called Great Auks. This bird was common in the 16th century;
  • penguins aren’t afraid of humans;
  • penguins were called “geese” by one of Magellan’s partners in 1520;
  • there are no land predators for penguins living in Antarctica;
  • an Emperor penguin can remain 20 minutes underwater;
  • the North Pole is devoid of penguins;
  • they’re known to drink sea water;
  • penguins experience a full molting. This takes 3 weeks;
  • the Gentoo species is the fastest. An individual is able to swim at a speed of 22 mph;
  • scientists found the earliest penguin fossil. The latter is 61.6 million years old. It showed that a penguin could reach a height of 4.5 feet (137 cm);
  • a penguin of medium size can eat 2 pounds (that’s almost 1 kg) of food per day;
  • these birds have spines instead of teeth. These are fleshy and they face backwards;
  • leopard seals are the most common threat for penguins in Antarctica.

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