Baby Penguin: 9 Facts and 9 Pictures

Written by Sadie Dunlap
Published: October 18, 2021
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Baby penguins are adorable fluff balls of heartwarming cuteness! But did you know that the smallest baby penguin is born weighing around 35 grams? Or that polar bears and penguins don’t live in the same countries? Keep reading to check out nine awesome penguin chick facts and to see some adorable baby penguin pictures.

#9: The Tiniest Baby Penguins are Seriously Tiny!

baby penguin - a pair of penguin chicks
Penguin chicks can be as small as 35 grams as newborns.

iStock.com/anyaberkut

The little penguin is the smallest species of penguin in the world. When they are born, they weigh in at an astoundingly small 35 to 45 grams. They grow slowly to reach a maximum of 2 pounds when fully grown eventually. 

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#8: A Baby Penguin is Called a Chick! 

baby penguin - a group of penguin chicks
A group of penguin chicks play in the mud.

iStock.com/anyaberkut

Baby penguins are a part of the bird family. They grow feathers, have beaks, and lay eggs. Penguins used to be able to fly, but over several hundred years, their wings evolved to flippers, which help them swim so that they could catch food easier. Just like baby chickens, penguins are also called chicks (or nestlings). How adorable! 

A group of penguin chicks forms what is called a creche. These groups are created when baby penguins’ parents are not around and help to keep the babies warm and to protect them from predators while the adult penguins are away searching for food. One or two adult penguins watch over the creche.

#6: Male Penguins Are in Charge of Penguin Eggs!

baby penguin - a group of penguin chicks
A group of penguin chicks waddle over rocks.

iStock.com/wdj

You might already know that most animals that lay eggs primarily depend on mothers to care for them. Penguins break the mold – that is, male penguins take primary ownership of caring for eggs. Male penguins build the nest, protect the egg, and even sit on top of it to ensure the egg stays warm. 

Female penguins often venture away from their nests to hunt for food, but male penguins never eat while they are incubating, so they depend on the females to bring back food. 

#5: Baby Penguins Furry Feathers Keep Them Warm

baby penguin - fuzzy penguin chick
Penguin chicks have a layer of fluffy feathers to keep them warm.

iStock.com/Alexey_Seafarer

When penguins are born, they have a fluffy, downy layer of feathers. Commonly mistaken for fur, these fluffy feathers protect baby penguins from the harsh cold of their environments. Since these feathers are not waterproof or very well-insulated, baby penguins depend on their parents to keep them warm and they don’t swim until they get older.

As the babies grow, they form hardy, water-resistant feathers that grow over their soft and fluffy undercoats that make it easier for them to swim, and keeps them warm and dry! 

#4: Baby Penguins and Baby Polar Bears Don’t Live Together!

baby penguin - Rockhopper penguin chick enjoying the sun
Rockhopper penguin chick enjoying the sun

ValerieVSBN/Shutterstock.com

If you’ve ever seen a movie featuring penguin chicks, you’ve probably seen them living and playing alongside baby polar bears. It might come as a surprise then, to learn that polar bears and penguins don’t live in the same habitats! While these adorable furry creatures might look adorable together on-screen, they are thousands of miles apart in real life.

Baby penguins grow up live in the southern hemisphere, in places like Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, and Australia. Polar bears, on the other hand, live in the northern hemisphere, mainly in Alaska, Greenland, Russia, and Canada.

#3: Penguins Are Ready to Hatch in 30-60 Days 

baby penguin - penguin chick and its parents
A penguin chick is protected by adult penguins.

iStock.com/Sergdid

Baby penguins don’t take very long to incubate before they are ready to hatch. Depending on the species of penguin, this process can take anywhere from around 30 days for Erect-Crested Penguins or up to 66 days for Emperor Penguins. Penguins lay their eggs in May or June.

When it is time for baby emperor penguins to hatch, the process is longer than you might think. Like other birds, infant penguins use their beaks to chip away at the shell of their eggs to break into the outside world. This process can take up to three days to complete! 

#2: Juvenile Penguins Have Different Colors Than Adults

baby penguin - penguin waddling on a land
Unlike mammals, penguins lay eggs rather than giving live birth.

Penguins are known for their sharp black and white coloring. Baby penguins, though, are not colored the same way as their parents. Instead, baby penguins have grey and white colors, which scientists think is essential to identify them as juveniles. Their light colors ensure that adults don’t see them as competitors. They are also easier to see in the snow with this grey color.

They usually get their typical black and white feathers in when they are about a year old. It is at this time that they are able to start swimming and venturing off on their own, since they have the insulation needed to survive in cold temperatures and can hunt for their own food.

#1: Penguins Keep Warm Between Their Parents Legs

baby penguin - close up of a penguin chick
Penguin chicks depend on their parents to keep them warm.

iStock.com/robert mcgillivray

When penguins are babies, they have a difficult time staying warm and regulating their own body temperatures. For this reason, they huddle between their parents’ legs to keep warm. Adult penguins waddle around with their young to protect them from the elements and to keep them safe from predators.

penguin waddling on a land
Unlike mammals, penguins lay eggs rather than giving live birth.
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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Where do baby penguins live?

Baby penguins live primarily in the southern hemisphere and inhabit countries like Antarctica, New Zealand, and even Australia.

What do baby penguins eat?

Baby penguins survive off a diet of regurgitated food received from their parents. This means that parents first chew the food, then they feed it to their babies from their mouths! 

How big are baby penguins?

Baby penguins are tiny, adorable creatures that are born weighing anywhere form 35 grams to 315 grams, depending on the penguin. The Fairy Penguin is the smallest baby and the Emperor Penguin is the largest one. 

What are baby penguins called?

Baby penguins are called chicks or nestlings. A group of baby penguins that band together for protection against the cold and predators is called a creche, which is derived from the French word that means “manger”.

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