Penguins are usually taken lightly when it comes to their size, but many of them are bigger than you thought. They vary from as small as 12 inches to as tall as 51 inches.
There are 18 different species of penguins in the world, many of which are bigger than you ever thought a penguin could be. However, the weight of the penguins fluctuates throughout their lives depending on the egg’s incubation period.
In this article, we’ll only take height as the measure of size to ensure the clarity and soundness of the information.
Let’s dive into our list of the 13 largest penguins!
1. Emperor Penguin
The emperor penguin tops our list and has a record of being the largest penguin alive, with a height of 45 inches and a weight of 100 pounds!
But it didn’t always have this title.
The tallest penguin that ever existed 37-40 years ago, called ‘palaeeudyptes klekowskii‘, was a whopping 115 kg and over 6ft 6 inches tall!
Emperor penguins are highly adaptive to a life of water. Their slim and aerodynamic bodies minimize drag for fast swimming – No wonder they’re known as exceptional divers – diving more than 1000 feet.
To prevent heat loss, emperor penguins are known to huddle close together, putting their young in the middle.
2. King Penguin
King Penguins win second place for being the largest penguin in the world. They weigh up to 40 pounds and grow from 33 to 37 inches tall.
You can differentiate these species from the orange markings on their head and upper chests. The baby king penguins look so furry and dark brown that sometimes they’re mistaken as an entirely different species of penguin.
These species can dive as deep as 1180 ft – as high as the Eiffel tower!
3. Gentoo Penguin
The third largest penguin is an average height of 31 inches and a maximum of 35 inches. Gentoo Penguins can be distinguished by the white stripe on their black body.
These species are equipped with insane diving abilities. They’re known for being able to reduce their heart rate from 100 beats per minute to 20 bpm during deep dives.
Not only this, but Gentoo Penguins’ bodies dive faster than any bird on the planet! That is 22 miles an hour.
4. Chinstrap Penguin
Chinstrap Penguins are found in Argentina’s Falklands Islands, the Antarctic, Chile, and other surrounding islands. They grow from 28 inches to 31 inches.
These Penguins are named after their unique appearance. They have a white head covered by a black patch on the top and a thin black stripe across the chin. Hence the name.
Unlike emperor and king penguins, these species lay their eggs on stone nests, after which both parents are responsible for caring for the egg.
5. Yellow-Eyed Penguin
These penguins are native to New Zealand and come in the largest penguin species, as they can be as tall as 31 inches.
You can probably tell by their name that these species have yellow eyes. But did you know they also have a dark brown head, with a yellow band going across their eye to the back of their head?
These species have aggressive personalities and don’t tend to live in colonies.
They communicate through shrill vocalizations with potential mates and tend to stay with the same mate forever.
6. Royal Penguin
You might recognize these penguins from their yellow and black crest. Their chest, belly, and face are white with a black back and flippers. Royal Penguin grows from 26 to 30 inches and weighs up to 18 pounds.
Unlike the previous species, these penguins live in large colonies and have highly synchronized breeding cycles, laying two eggs, but only one survives.
Interestingly, the royal penguin chicks are ready to forge into the sea when they’re only around six months old.
7. Magellanic Penguin
Magellanic Penguins can be as tall as 24 to 30 inches in height. Interestingly, they’re related to Humboldt and African Penguins, and they all have a horseshoe-shaped patch over their chests.
If you want to distinguish Magellanic Penguin from the other two species, look for the black band on top of the head that’s unique to this species.
These penguins are monogamous. They also nest in the same spot every year.
8. Macaroni Penguin
With a maximum height of around 28 inches and a weight of 12 pounds, the Macaroni Penguin is the eighth-largest penguin in the world and the largest of the crested penguins.
A big orange-reddish bill, a long crest of yellow-orange feathers, and a black face give the penguin a macaroni-like look, like its name.
With the water-adapted features, the macaroni penguin is a diving expert, going as deep as 115 meters to catch prey.
These species mate in dense colonies and lay two eggs, out of which one survives. Their life span varies from 8 to 15 years.
9. Humboldt Penguin
Humboldt penguins reside in warmer places like South Africa, Peru and Chile and can grow up to 28 inches. As mentioned in the last point, they have a horseshoe-shaped black mark on their chest.
These species are known for their unity. Being social creatures, these penguins remain in colonies. In this setting, predators hesitate from attacking, and even if they do, the penguins defend collectively.
Humboldt Penguins prefer to build nests on caves and rocky shorelines and remain loyal to their partner for the rest of their life.
10. Erect crested Penguins
Erect-crested penguins have a height of 20 to 28 inches and weigh between 2.5-6 kg.
Although these penguins are categorized as small to medium, they’re the heaviest of the crested penguin species!
Their physical features are too distinct to forget: From black upper parts and white under parts to a yellow stripe extending from their eye to form an erect crest. This crest is also known as their yellow eyebrow.
These species are also characterized as having large orangey-brown bills and red-brown eyes.
11. African Penguin
The African Penguin, known as the ‘Jackass penguin’, comes tenth place on our list of the largest penguins in the world. It can grow to a maximum height of 26.5 to 27.5 inches.
Do you know what a penguin sounds like? Well, this one sounds quite similar to a donkey.
African Penguins are also marked with the black horseshoe shape on their chest like other penguin species mentioned in the article.
To differentiate them from others, they have pink marks over their eyes that work to regulate their body temperature.
12. Adélie penguin
Adélie penguins are native to the Antarctic continent, but they’re found offshore in the surrounding seas during winter. They grow up to 27 inches in height.
Adélies, too, are pro swimmers. They can travel 185 miles round-trip during mealtime.
Unlike many penguins, these species are also great on land, waddling over long distances efficiently.
13. Snares-crested Penguin
This species of crested penguin is named after the place it lives in, Snares Island. They grow from 19 to 27 inches tall.
The appearance is pretty much the same as Erect crested penguins, except the crest is longer and droops off the back of the head.
They’re fast swimmers, going up to 15 miles per hour to catch prey.
This is the end of the 13 largest varieties of penguins, but let us tell you:
Penguins of today’s age would look like dwarfs next to the mega-penguins that existed thousands of years ago.
If you want to know more facts about penguins, let us know what we should write about next in the comments below.