9 Fun Facts About Penguins That Will Brighten Your Day

There’s nothing more fun than a waddle of adorable penguin facts.


Two penguin friends.

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What’s more adorable than a waddle of penguins? They are fun to watch as they strut around or swim and they are frequent stars of kids’ books and movies. These flightless birds live and love to play amongst the ice, according to Good Housekeeping. They range from large to small and have some amazing abilities. In honor of penguin awareness day which falls on January 20, 2024, here are nine fun facts about penguins that are sure to make you smile and brighten your day.

How Many Penguin Species there are is a mystery

Scientists don’t know how many species of penguins there are. Estimates range from 17 to 20 but there could even be more. There is actually a debate over whether some similar looking ones are different species. But one thing is sure, they are all adorable.

Eastern rockhopper penguins have bright coloring.

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Emperor penguins incubate eggs in their feet

Most birds sit on their nests until their eggs hatch but male emperor penguins incubate eggs on their feet under a loose fold of skin. The daddy penguins do not move for months, not even to feed, until the eggs hatch.

Emperor penguin with a chick.

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The smallest penguin is only 12 inches tall

The smallest penguin species, aptly named little penguin, are only 12-14 inches tall (30.5 to 35.6 centimeters), according to a blog on the World Animal Protection organization’s website. These tiny penguins live off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand and spend most of their time playing in the ocean.

These little penguins are the smallest species.

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Penguins are toothless

Penguins do not have teeth, But then again, no birds have teeth. Penguins can rip up their food because the top of their mouths are filled with serrated ridges. Looking inside a penguin’s mouth can be downright scary.

A gentoo penguin with its mouth open.

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A group of penguins in the water is called a raft

A group of penguins in the seas are called a raft. This is most of the time since penguins are great swimmers and spend up to 80 percent of their lives in water. But when they do come on dry land, a group of penguins is called a waddle.

A raft of Adelle penguins in Antarctica jump into the water.

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Penguins only live in the Southern Hemisphere

Penguins live in very cold regions like Antarctica and some live in more moderate climates like the coast of Australia and New Zealand. But as a rule, according to TreeHugger, all penguins live in the southern hemisphere. But like most rules, there is one exception. The Galapagos penguin lives on the Galapagos Islands that straddle the equator. So sometimes they cross over to the Northern Hemisphere.

Galapagos penguins.

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All penguins are black and white

No matter where they live, all adult penguins are colored black and white. Their backs and the top sides of their wings are black and their necks, breasts, and tummies are white. This coloring is actually camouflage to deter predators while they swim in the seas. When seen from under the water, a white belly blends in with the sunlight.

Gentoo penguin swimming.

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Penguins can drink salt water

Penguins can actually drink seawater. That’s because they have a gland that filters out salt from their blood. The salt is then excreted out of their nasal passages. Achoo.

Southern rockhopper penguin drinking.

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Some penguins build pebble nests

While most bird’s nests are carefully built, the nests of the Gentoo penguins are so messy that they are called scrapes, according to Good Housekeeping. That’s because the nests are actually constructed out of pebbles. But the nests are actually lined with soft moss and feathers so the eggs do not break.

A gentoo penguins nest with two eggs.

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