6 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know About Penguins

It is a well-known fact that penguins are adorable. What you might not know about them, however, is how fascinating they are.

Penguins live in the harshest of environments and yet manage to thrive. These amazing animals have adapted to life in Antarctica with an enviable success rate. They’ve also fascinated humans for centuries, capturing our hearts with their cuteness and charm while simultaneously inspiring us to understand more about nature’s harsh realities.

Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting facts about these birds.

Penguins walking on the snow in a line

Can you own a penguin as a pet?

As much as we all love penguins, you can’t own one as a pet. Penguins are considered wild animals and it is illegal (and potentially dangerous) to keep them in your home.

Many children dream about having these magnificent birds as pets, so creative parents needed to resort to creative solutions. Many children will get a stuffed pet penguin to accompany them in their childhood. The kids get to have a lot of fun picking out penguin names for the stuffed penguin friends.

Now, some more insightful kids will ask about all of those penguins in the movies and TV. Can humans own them as pets? The answer is no. That’s why we will never see any penguins around the house. Except in an environment where a bird was hurt and orphaned.  

In case your children love animals, you can help them nurture this passion by allowing them to learn about endangered species. All while keeping regular pets at home, trying to give them the best life possible.

In the long run, you might help your child become a marine biologist and help save the endangered penguins. 

Images of 3 penguins singing from a movie

Penguins in captivity

There are a few zoos that have penguins in their collection of animals. But this is typically only allowed for injured or sick animals. For example, if a penguin falls into the water and cannot get back up on its own, it will be taken to the zoo. Here, it can be treated by veterinarians and learn how to function in the wild.

Sometimes, penguins are kept in captivity for breeding purposes. Here they can be watched carefully by zoo employees. This is to make sure that they are not disrupted during the breeding process. This way people are attempting to save endangered species.

Penguins in captivity often have very short lives. The zoos focus on saving as many of these birds as possible.

Penguins in the zoo

Penguin senses and instincts

Penguins are extremely intelligent birds with an advanced repertoire of survival skills. They also have a variety of senses that they rely on for finding food and staying safe around predators. We’ll take a look at those now.

  • Smell

Penguins have a keen sense of smell, which helps them find food from very far away. In the water, they can smell tiny fish swimming nearby and even tell whether or not it’s healthy to eat. On land, though, this is not quite as useful – but penguins don’t eat on land anyway.

  • Taste

Penguins have taste buds in their tongues that help them taste the types of fish they eat. If you’ve ever tasted raw tuna, you’ll know that it’s pretty darn gross to humans. But penguins gobble it down like there’s no tomorrow. The reason for this is that they need the protein from these fish to keep their bodies going.

  • Vision

Penguins have a great deal of trouble seeing in the dark. They rely on their excellent vision during the day when it’s light out. They also have a special membrane over their eyes that protects them from the glare of reflected sunlight. This is especially useful in water where most prey is camouflaged and difficult to see.

  • Hearing

Penguins have a keen sense of hearing, which is useful for finding out how far away predators are from them while they’re swimming in the ocean. These birds can hear low-pitched sounds very well. But since penguins tend to live on ice, sound doesn’t travel as well on land.

Penguins on land tend to be more aware of their surroundings. They rely on touch and new sensory information as they approach something new.

penguins smelling in the air

Penguin parents are ready to die for their children

If you didn’t know this already, it is time to discover just how fiercely protective these animals are of their offspring. Penguins are often monogamous creatures. This means that they find a single mate for life and stick with them until one of the two dies.

This has an advantage in terms of defense against predators. This is because it guarantees that there will always be at least one adult animal to protect the babies.

Penguin mates

Penguins do not have teeth

Most of us think of birds as having a beak, wings, and the ability to fly – with few exceptions. After all, most birds don’t have teeth so you wouldn’t expect to find them on an animal with so many similar characteristics.

Penguins don’t have teeth because their preferred food can easily be crushed by the incredibly strong muscles that they use to swallow it without chewing first.

Therefore, there is no need for them to chew their food or help break it down once they catch it – instead, they swallow it whole and let their stomach do all of the work.

One penguin standing on the ice

Penguins have an amazing dive record

Scientists have been able to record how deep these animals can dive. And the record number is amazing – as much as 530 feet below the surface.

This incredible number is especially impressive when you consider that a human will die from lack of oxygen after diving at just 200 feet – and even more so because it’s not unusual for a penguin to be underwater for as long as 20 minutes at a time.

To combat the effects of diving so deep and spending so much time underwater, penguins have special adaptations that help them increase their chances of survival. First, they have an incredibly high concentration of myoglobin, which is a protein that binds to oxygen so that they will have more of it during their long dives.

The other adaptation for deep diving is the construction of their lungs. These animals have larger lungs than other birds and can hold more air since they can collapse them underwater.

Penguins also fill their feathers with air to create a layer of insulation and they constrict their blood vessels to make sure that as little blood as necessary is exposed to the cold water.

Penguins are some of the most fascinating creatures on Earth and there is still much to learn about them. We hope that you have enjoyed reading these six interesting facts about penguins and their unique biology.

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