Please email or share this article!

Penguin Facts

Cartoons have been made about them, as well as movies where they’ve shown off their dancing skills.

Although penguins probably aren’t dancing around on the ice, there are still many amazing things they can do!

Keep reading to learn some interesting facts about penguins.

What are the characteristics of a penguin?

Penguins belong to the bird family but they cannot fly. They have black and white feathers that make excellent camouflage, and they have a special layer of feathers which helps to keep them warm.

They spend half of their life on land and the other half swimming in the water, so their wings have changed to act like flippers which makes them great swimmers.

Penguins are known for waddling their feet when they walk, and they also slide on their bellies across the snow. Both of these help them move while saving their energy.

Where do penguins live?

Almost all groups of penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere, which is the bottom half of the Earth. There is one group, the Galápagos penguin, that lives in a different part of the world, but this is not very common.


When we think about penguins, a lot of people usually think they all live in freezing cold climates like Antarctica.

While some species do live there, most live in warmer areas. Penguins have adapted for life in the water, and they spend a lot of their time in or near the ocean.

Most groups of penguins can be found in Antarctica, Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, and South Africa.

What do penguins eat?

Most penguins like to eat krill (which is kind of like shrimp), fish, squid, and other types of sea life that they can catch while they swim in the water.

Do penguins have any predators?

Penguins have a few predators and these include sharks, orcas, and leopard seals. Humans used to hunt penguins for their oil and eggs, but because penguins are protected, this is now illegal.

Harbour Seal

How do penguins protect themselves?

One of the biggest ways that penguins protect themselves is by living in large groups.

Many predators will be less likely to attack if there are a lot of penguins around, and this also helps because there are so many of them keeping lookout.

Another way penguins protect themselves is by their special camouflage on their feathers which is called countershading.

penguin camouflage

Penguins have black feathers on their backs and white on their fronts, so if a predator is looking up from the water, like an orca or a leopard seal, they will have a hard time seeing the penguin because of the bright water surface.

Finally, penguins are excellent swimmers and can outswim a lot of their predators.

If they get close to land, they can jump out of the water at a high speed and quickly escape the threat.

Quick Facts

Quick Penguin facts for kids

  • Penguins are considered to be skilled divers. It is believed that a penguin has dived more than 6,000 feet deep.
  • The feet of penguins are designed for extended walks. They are also developed in a way that allows them to alter course and brake underwater.
  • Penguins protect themselves by living in large groups and in remote coasts to protect themselves from animal hunters and attacks.
  • Penguins collect fish and other marine creatures underwater, which they then devour.
  • The tiniest penguin is about approximately 10 inches tall.
  • The oldest fossilized penguin in the world is 61 million years old.
  • Penguins are generally found in the Southern Hemisphere, from South America to New Zealand and Australia.
  • Penguins are considered to be the second most threatened bird group in the world. 
  • The African Penguin is considered to be the most endangered penguin species.

Most penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere.

They spend half their life on land and half in the water.

Penguins eat krill, fish, squid, and other sea creatures.


Their biggest predators are sharks, orcas, and leopard seals.

Penguins can swim at speeds of over 20 miles per hour.

Whether you are familiar with penguins from nature shows, or tap-dancing movies, they are popular animals that many people know and love.

Penguins are excellent swimmers and are known for their belly slides and waddles. These fascinating creatures will continue to inspire stories and movies for years to come!

Now, let’s explore more animal facts! But before you do, one last thing. Can you name two other animals you might find around the North Pole or South Pole?