The term ‘penguin’ is a common name used to refer to 19 species of flightless seabirds which are widely distributed in cooler waters and along coastlines in the Southern Hemisphere. Penguins are flightless sea birds but they are expert swimmers.
The following are 30 interesting penguin facts for kids.
30 Fun Penguin Facts For Kids
Fact 1. Penguins live in the Southern hemisphere: All the 19 species of seabirds classified as ‘penguins’ inhabit the Southern Hemisphere. The birds in this category range from the small blue or fairy penguin (usually about 41 cm tall and 1kg in weight) to the largest in the group – The emperor penguin (usually about 1.1m tall and about 27 to 41 kg in weight).
Fact 2: Penguins are skilled swimmers: The penguin seabirds have streamlined, barrel-like bodies which reduce drag on them while they swim. Their wings are modified to form thin, stiff flippers which provide propulsion (moving force) for them while swimming. Due to this endowment, most penguins can swim to depths of about 20 meters in search of food, while some have traveled as far as 30 meters!
Fact 3: They have a unique bone structure: In contrast to the bones of other birds, penguin bones are solid (not hollow). This helps them to remain submerged underwater for as long as they wish to. When seen on land, penguins exhibit a waddling gait due to their short, thick legs which are set far back from the body.
Fact 4: Habitat: Smaller penguins live closer to the equator (for warmth) and eat only fish, the larger penguins live closer to the Antarctica where their bodies can withstand extremely low temperatures and windy weather. The larger penguins eat fishes, squids, and krills (krills are small, shrimp-like creatures).
Fact 5: Although penguins come ashore to breed, they are true marine animals, as they spend about 80% of their lives at sea. Although penguins are generally associated with extremely cold climates, only two species—the Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) and the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri)—live on the frozen Antarctic continent.
Fact 6: Macaroni penguin (The largest penguin specie): There are about 18 million macaroni penguins in the world. The Macaroni penguins have a lifespan of about 12 years. The closest penguin specie to Macaroni specie are the Royal penguin and the Erect-crested penguin.
Fact 7: Emperor penguins are excellent breath-holders: While most penguin species can hold their breath for 2 to 3 minutes underwater, but, the large and mighty Emperor penguin can hold its breath for up to 20 minutes under water!
Fact 8: Penguins are highly social animals: Virtually all activities are performed by penguins in groups! They are highly united in performing various activities important to them. Interestingly, large groups of penguins are called ‘rookery’. The rookery eat, swim, hunt and nest together.
In the Antarctica where the temperature is usually very low (extremely cold), emperor penguins huddle together to stay warm in the dangerously cold winds. The Penguins have a unique voice or call with which they find their mates and chicks in large groups (amidst a thousand penguins or more).
Fact 9: World Penguin Day: World Penguin day is celebrated worldwide on the 25th day of April every year. Since the flightless birds resemble a tuxedo, lovers of penguins worldwide wear various shades of tuxedos to show love for the amazing species of flightless seabirds.
Fact 10: Common names of the 18 known species of Penguins: Emperor penguin, King penguin, Southern rockhopper penguin, Macaronin penguin, Eastern rockhopper penguin (considered to be a sub-specie of the Southern rockhopper), Northern rockhopper penguin, Fiordland penguin, Snares penguin, Royal penguin, Erect-crested penguin, Little penguin (also known as ‘blue penguin’), Yellow-eyed penguin, Adele penguin, Chinstrap penguin, Gentoo penguin, Jackass penguin (also known as African penguin), Humboldt penguin, Magellanic penguin and Galapagos penguin.
Fact 11: Penguins are very colorful and pleasant: Contrary to popular imagination, penguins do not only exist as the commonly expected black and white forms, but they also exist as very colorful birds of various sizes!
For example, the Crested penguins sport a crown of yellow feathers; blushes of orange and yellow mark the necks of the Emperor and King penguins, while other species such as the Fiordland, Royal, Snares and Rockhopper penguins sport heads of bright yellow and bushy eyebrows. Also, a light yellow mask covers the face of the yellow-eyed penguin around the eyes.
Fact 12: Where did the Macaroni get its name from? The name comes from the crest of yellow feathers on its head. The crest on its head looks like the 18th-century hats of the same name (Macaroni).
Fact 13: What do penguins eat? Penguins eat only meats (That is, they are carnivores). Their diet includes squids, fishes, and krills (tiny crustaceans). Because they are mainly carnivorous, they could hamper the continuous supply of fishes and krills in the areas which they inhabit.
Fact 14: Penguins have very few natural predators. Major predators of these birds are: Petrels and Antarctic skuas.
Fact 15: Of all the penguin species, the largest is the Emperor specie. In the Antarctica where this specie lives, temperatures could drop as low as -60 degree Celsius. This makes the Emperor penguin the only animal to inhabit the open ice on the continent during the winter season. This penguin specie is able to survive the extreme coldness because of the large store of fat in its body.
Fact 16: Penguins do not fly. However, they are well adapted to water bodies where they swim and land where they spend about 20% of their lives.
Fact 17: The King penguins are the second largest penguin specie. They possess about four layers of feathers to keep them warm on the cold sub-antarctic islands where they breed!
Fact 18: Penguins can drink seawater (This is because they have a gland in their body which acts as a filter to separate the ingested salt from the water).
Fact 19: No penguin lives in the Northern hemisphere.
Fact 20: The penguins black and white color serves as camouflage while swimming. The black plumage on their back makes it very difficult to detect them in water from above, while the white plumage on their front and belly looks like the sun reflecting off the surface of the water (to predators) when seen underwater.
Fact 21: Penguins are highly found in countries such as New Zealand, Chile, Australia, Argentina, and South Africa.
Fact 22: The penguins in Antarctica have no land-based predators. Therefore, they are very safe!
Fact 23: The Chinstrap penguins got their name from the thick black band under their head. Sometimes, it makes them look as if they were wearing a black helmet. This could be useful for them, as they are considered the most aggressive penguin specie.
Fact 24: The yellow-eyed penguin is an endangered penguin specie which is native to New Zealand. The population of this specie is put at about 4000.
Fact 25: The only penguin specie that ventures North of the equator in the wild is the Galapagos penguin.
Fact 26: The characteristic tuxedo-like appearance of the penguin is referred to as ‘countershading’. The appearance works as a camouflage, which protects the penguin birds from predators.
Fact 27: Other predators of penguins include: Seal leopards, Orcas, Sea lions, snakes sharks and foxes.
Fact 29: Baby penguins are born when the female penguin lays 1-2 eggs on the shore (usually, one eventually hatches).
Fact 30: The penguins take very good care of their eggs. The father penguin protects the egg, while the mother penguin goes in search of food. The penguin egg takes about 35 days to hatch. The baby penguin is called a chick. (The chick feeds on regurgitated food from its mother).
- Williams, Tony D. “Penguin.” Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008.
- 5 Fun Facts About Penguins. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/kidscbc2/the-feed/5-fun-facts-about-penguins
- Animal facts. Retrieved from: sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/animals/penguin.html