What are some interesting facts about penguins? Do penguins only live in the Antarctica? How many types of penguin are there? What is the biggest penguin? What is the smallest penguin? How long can penguins stay under water? How do penguins reproduce? How do Emperor penguins care for their young? What is the incubation period for penguins?
Penguins are best known as being black and white, flightless birds, from Antarctica, but only one of these facts is correct. Penguins are found in many places, including the Galapagos islands, just south of the equator. On rare occasions brown and white penguins are born.
Penguins of different types are also found in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and South America, they are never far from the ocean as they need fish and krill to eat.
It is even suspected that they could fly at one time during their early evolution process, although modern penguins have wings that have evolved into something more like flippers.
Unlike flying birds, who have hollow bones, penguins have solid bones.
Penguins have more feathers than most other birds these feathers trap air next to their body, keeping them warm when swimming in the cold waters. Their color is designed to make them harder to see from above, or below; a predator beneath them looks up and sees their white stomach, hard to distinguish from the lighter colors at the top of the water. A predator who is above them looking down sees their dark color against the dark murky depths of the ocean. The earlier mentioned brown and white penguins (called isabelline) are easier to see from above and often eaten by predators - mostly the leopard seal.
Some penguins spend so much time in the water they grow barnacles.
Penguins have no fear of humans and have been hunted and used as food, in some places their meat is used as fishing bait.
Penguins drink salt water, but excrete the excess salt via a gland under their eye.
Experts disagree on how many species of penguin there are, some siting 17, others up to 20. The majority of penguin species are seeing a decline in numbers.
The yellow-eyed penguin, of New Zealand, is the rarest penguin, with numbers around 5,000.
The Emperor Penguin is the largest, and can dive to 1,870 feet (565 meters), staying under water for 22 minutes.
Fairy Penguins are the smallest penguin.
Penguins can live for 15 to 20 years, however most do not survive their first year.
Mating in penguins is different than in most birds, it is the females who compete for the males.
Most breeds of penguin do not breed until 5 years of age, smaller ones sooner, larger ones later.
Penguin eggs have thick shells. Most penguins lay two eggs per clutch, however the Emperor Penguin and King Penguin lay only one. Most lay only once per year, but the Little Penguin may have two clutches per year.
In most penguins the males and females share the duties of incubating the eggs, but the Emperor Penguin is noted for the females leaving the males to do this. The males stand with the egg on their feet, folding their stomach over it to keep it warm; standing for two months, fasting until the chick hatches and the females return to feed them and take over duties.
The incubation period is different for each Penguin species, from around one month for the crested penguin, to 63-66 days for the Emperor Penguin.
Homosexuality has been observed in Penguins, with pairs of males trying to raise “rocks” as their young, or attempting to steal a chick from another penguin. Mothers who have lost their chicks have also been observed trying to steal chicks.
Penguins locate each other with sound.
Penguins often mate for life but will pair up with a new partner if their mate does not return to the nest.
Other Penguin Trivia
Penguins have recently become a popular exotic pet among the rich and famous. Entertainer Wayne Newton has pet penguins.