18 Different Types of Penguins 

We all know penguins as flightless waddlers, but do we even know how many exist? Or is it your first time hearing there is more than one penguin? Either way, we’ve got you covered.

In today’s world, there are 18 different species of penguins, although many of them are endangered. While some penguins find it hard to walk, some can hop. These birds vary in size, location, appearance, to their communication, body language, and skills. 

In this article, we’ll take you through all the existing penguins. There needs to be more research among researchers regarding the actual number of penguin species – 17 or 21.

We’ll go with the 18 penguin species that are most widely recognized. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

1. Genus Aptendoytes (Great Penguins)

First on our list are the most giant penguins on earth that come under the category of genus Aptendoytes. Here’s what you need to know about them.

1.1. Emperor Penguin

The emperor penguin is the tallest penguin species and one of the biggest birds on earth, measuring up to 39 inches tall and weighing almost 100 lbs. The penguins are expert divers, diving as deep as 564 m! These species are known for breeding colonies with thousands of members and mating rituals.

1.2. King Penguin

The king penguin is a tad bit smaller than the emperor penguin, having a maximum height of 39 inches and a maximum weight of 40 lbs.

They look similar to the emperor penguins, but you can easily tell them apart by the silver linings in their body. King penguins have the longest breeding cycle than any other as the chicks fledge from around 14 to 16 months.

2. Genus Pygoscelis (Brush-Tailed Penguins)

The genus Pygoscelis contains the three species collectively known as brush-tailed penguins. They all share a characteristically long set of tail feathers, but their unique feather patterns make them easy to tell apart. Let’s take a look at these incredible birds.

2.1. Chinstrap Penguin

Aptly named the chinstrap penguins are the waddlers with a black strip along their chin, giving a look of a helmet’s chinstrap.

Like other penguins of the Genus Pygoscelis, these penguins form large breeding colonies.

Known for making a noise sounding like a blend of a donkey and a gull squawking, they remain true to their aggressive reputation.

2.2. Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo penguins are the third largest species, coming after the king penguin. They can easily be identified owing to their orange beak and white eye patches. 

Previously, gentoo penguins were said to have two subspecies, but new research suggests there could be four gentoo subspecies.

2.3. Adélie Penguin

The Adélie Penguin is the smallest of the genus Pygoscelis. Their unique physical appearance gives them a tuxedo-type look, and a white ring around their eyes helps them stand out amongst their neighbor species.

Although these birds look innocent- don’t be deceived. Adélie penguins are known to attack researchers and large predators with their flippers. 

3. Genus Eudyptula (Little Penguins)

The precious little penguin species of Eudyptula will brighten your day. We’re going to tell more about these furballs.

3.1. Little Penguin

Who would have guessed these adorable creatures prefer sand and rocks rather than snow and ice? 

See also  8 Birds That Look Like Penguins

This species of penguin is the smallest of all penguin species and can be as small as 30-35cm. They’re also called blue penguins because of their slate-blue plumage color.

These species make nests in the sand and rarely share them with other penguin species.

3.2. White-Flippered Penguin

As you might’ve guessed, their name has something to do with the white stripes on their flippers. These penguins are mostly gray than blue, but it’s still argued whether they’re just a subspecies of the little penguin or not.

This species is one of the only penguin species that are primarily nocturnal, making it challenging to research them properly.

4. Genus Spheniscus (Banded Penguins)

Next up, we have the stripey penguin species that are as loud as their physical features. Known for making loud noises like a braying donkey, there’s more you should know about them.

4.1. Humboldt Penguin

Humboldt is a medium-sized flightless bird that lives in the freezing waters of the Humboldt current.

Usually, these birds are highly social and are generally found in large colonies. Although their torpedo-shaped bodies make them excellent swimmers, only rarely do they swim far from the shore for a hunt. 

4.2. Magellanic Penguin

The magellanic penguins are closely related to the humboldt penguins but are relatively smaller than them. 

The only way to differentiate between the two is from the two white bands of feathers on the neck of the magellanic penguin but only one in the humboldt penguin.

These birds not only live in densely-packed colonies but even travel in giant flocks.

5. Galápagos Penguin

The Galápagos penguin is a super interesting penguin species. These are the only tropical penguins living in the Northern Hemisphere. 

To live in such a climate, these species have adapted to stay cool with several unique features. These include having less body fat and plumage, with bare areas on the skin to radiate heat off their bodies.

5.1 African Penguin

The only penguin that got the pleasure of living on the African mainland is this goofy-looking bird! 

Not only is it unique in its physical appearance, but it’s also ‘praised’ for its vocal personality.

The noise it makes is very similar to that of a donkey, giving it the famous name of the ‘jackass penguin’.

6. Genus Megadyptes (Yellow-Eyed Penguins)

Sadly, now we’re only left with one of the species of Yellow-Eyed Penguins. At least two species of the Megadyptes penguins are known to be extinct, leaving all the spotlights on the yellow-eyed penguin.

6.1. Yellow-Eyed Penguin

Previously categorized under the little penguins, the genetic analysis found no relation between the two species. Hence, this stunning bird is an entirely different species.

These penguins resemble the gentoo penguins a bit, but the yellow band around these penguins’ heads gives it away.

Yellow-eyed penguins are one of the rarest penguin species – only 3000-4000 left in the world!

7. Genus Eudyptes (Crested Penguins)

In the end, we have the genus Eudyptes, which includes all the penguins, usually known as crested penguins.

It can be a difficult task to differentiate between these penguins due to the band of yellow crests on their head.

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However, we’ll tell you the secret to doing that, along with more interesting details about these species.

7.1 Fiordland Penguin

The Fiordland Penguin is a medium-sized penguin that’s only in New Zealand. 

Like all crested penguins, Fiordland, too, has a band of yellow feathers extending to the back of its head. However, unlike snares and erect-crested penguins, these species don’t have bare pink skin around their eyes. 

These birds make small colonies and nests on the rocky shores of New Zealand. 

7.2. Erect-crested Penguin 

It’s apparent by their name that the erect-crested penguin’s crest is fully upright, almost looking like a result of an electric shock.

These species gather in large nesting colonies and often fight for the best spot. Although the mating pairs can identify one another through sight, they still use high-pitched harsh sounds in the daytime.

7.3. Macaroni Penguin

Like its name, a macaroni penguin’s yellow feathers dangle backwards from above its eyes, looking like a macaroni. Their red eyes are the cherry on top.

These penguins are excellent swimmers going as deep as 330 feet. They lay two eggs, and only one of them survives. 

Macaroni penguins are also known to communicate with body language, especially during courtship displays.

7.4. Northern Rockhopper Penguin

The rockhopper penguins are divided into two different species according to their vocal, structural and genetic differences. 

This species of penguin is one of the smallest crested penguins, weighing only about 5 pounds. They’re named based on their ability to hop rather than waddle across the rocky shores. 

These penguins are known to be noisy, braying loudly and slapping with their flippers while fighting over mating or food.

7.5. Southern Rockhopper Penguin

Blood-red eyes, a red to orange beak, and pink feet, southern rockhoppers are pretty similar to the northern rockhoppers. 

You can differentiate between them because these species are smaller than the northern ones and have a shorter spiky crest.

Being one of the smallest penguins, with similar noisy colonies, to expertise in swimming and diving up to 330 feet, these penguins are almost one.

7.6. Royal Penguin

The largest of the crested penguins, these waddlers grow up to 30 inches. Their face is white, although some may even have a pale or grayish color.

These species are highly social and have unique social abilities like they can identify their mate and chicks in hundreds of other penguins.

They can be aggressive, producing hissing noises and biting and gripping the neck.

7.7. Snares Penguin

This medium-sized penguin grows from 19 to 24 inches and weighs around 6.6 pounds. Its bill is red, large, and heavily grooved.

Snares live in a warm environment and along rocky shores.

Snares are one of the less aggressive penguin species, but they show some aggressive behavior during mating season.

Congratulations on reaching the end of the article. We hope you learnt a thing or two from this list. If you did, comment down below what that is.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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