Did you stumble across a cute adorable little penguin, and now you can’t stop thinking about it? If you feel you can’t be more amazed by these creatures, read this article to the end to get surprised.
Baby penguins are born with gray, brown, or white feathers. Their color and size depends on the type of penguin species. Similarly, it’s widely known that penguins are covered in fluff at birth, but did you know some are even born naked? That’s not all. Can you imagine a baby penguin being the size of your credit card at birth?
This article will tell you everything that’s enough to make you a baby penguin guru. If you want more interesting facts, keep reading until the end.
1. Baby Penguins or Chicks?
If you were thinking of what a baby penguin is called, we’re sorry to break it, but it’s simply a ‘chick’.
But they weren’t chick from birth.
When baby penguins are in eggs, they’re called a ‘clutch’. Interestingly, Penguins lay two eggs together in a nest, except for the emperor and king penguins. This is because, usually, one egg is weaker than the other and has a higher chance of dying. When that happens, the parent penguins shift their attention to the remaining, larger egg.
After hatching, they take on another name called ‘nestlings’. This is usually when the baby penguins are very young. After some time, we can refer to them as ‘chicks’.
What’s a group of baby penguins called?
Baby penguins tend to have strong bonds and work together strongly. The young penguins within a colony are called ‘crèche’. They will form a band when their parents are away hunting. This protects them from cold and any attacks.
2. Baby Penguins are an Actual Fluffball
How can someone be this fluffy? This question comes to everyone’s mind when they see a baby penguin.
Well, let us tell you there are scientific reasons for that.
Like whales, penguins have a fat layer underneath their skin known as ‘blubber’.
On top of this, they have a layer of feathers that we see when we see baby penguins. That fluffy ‘down’ feather covering makes the baby penguin look adorable.
Adult penguins have another layer on top of this for waterproofing and protection from cold.
It takes almost a year for baby penguins to fully develop this coat.
3. Baby Penguins can be Teeny Tiny
Baby penguins’ size varies greatly depending on the species. Where one baby penguin weighs just about a small light bulb, its cousin weighs as much as a soccer ball.
The smallest species of penguins have their newborns at a weight of 35 grams and a length of 2-3 inches only! These species include ‘little penguins’, also known as ‘fairy penguins’.
The medium-sized species are about 57 grams on average, like the Magellanic Penguin.
Large species like baby emperor penguins can be as big as 400 grams at birth.
4. Baby Penguins Hatch in 30-60 Days
Baby penguins are quick to come into this world.
Like everything else, the incubation duration also depends on the penguin species.
For some penguins, like Erect-Crested Penguins, it takes 30 days; for others, like Emperor Penguins, it takes double the time.
Penguins usually lay eggs in May or June, return to the sea for hunting, and take turns taking care of the eggs.
The male puts the eggs in his brood pouch; we’ll tell in the next point.
5. Male Penguins carry out Daddy Duties
We love how male penguins are responsible parents who participate equally in caring for their babies.
The incubation of eggs is shared between both the parent penguins. When one takes care of the eggs, the other hunts or rests.
Male emperor penguins win the race as they’re the only penguin species that do the job solely.
While the mother is hunting, they care for the eggs, losing lots of body weight in the process too.
During the first few weeks of the chick, the father takes care of it before it goes into the mother’s care.
6. Male Penguins Produce Milk
Interestingly, emperor penguins have additional techniques for taking care of their chicks.
These penguins have the ability to produce a curd-textured substance, that is, the milk for their chicks. It comes out from the oesophagus.
This milk is enriched with all the necessary nutrients that help feed and make the chicks healthy.
However, the milk production stops when the chicks are 2 weeks old, and it’s time to go to the female penguin.
This ability is a saviour for the daddy penguin when the egg hatches before the mommy penguin arrives.
7. Baby Penguins can’t Fly
You might think if baby penguins are that lightweight, there could be a possibility of them flying.
But penguins can never fly.
Their wing bones are joined together in a way that helps them in the water more than in the air, which they need the most.
8. Baby Penguins have a Tooth on Their Beak
Ever heard of an egg tooth? Penguins have one to break through their egg.
When the baby penguin’s gestational period is coming to an end, they start poking hope with the help of the tooth, creating a ‘pip’ sound. The tooth is attached to the top of its beak to help them break the egg.
It can take up to 3 days to completely hatch the egg and come out into the world.
The beak falls off after the job is done, usually when the chick is a few days old.
9. Adult Penguins give Swallowed Food to their Babies
Don’t be disgusted; it’s adorable.
Adult Penguins catch their prey like krill, squid, or fish and keep it inside them for a short period until the food is ready for their baby.
They can do it in three ways:
The adult penguin partially swallows the food until it can be digested and coughs it up for the chick.
The adult penguin swallows the food entirely that can be stored for a few days. Enzymes in their bodies prevent the food from digesting.
3. Penguin Milk
Adult penguins create milk from a meal to feed their young.
10. Baby Penguins Depend on Fur for Warmth
As mentioned earlier in the article, baby penguins have a layer of fluffy down feathers.
They miss another layer of feathers essential for penguins to survive in extreme temperatures and water. Since they don’t have that layer, they don’t have protection from the cold or the water.
This is why they need to keep warm with the help of their parents’ feathers and not swim until they grow the full adult coat.
The hardy and water-resistant feathers grow with time over their fluff and help them keep warm and dry as they age.
11. Baby Penguins and Baby Polar Bears aren’t Neighbors
In every single movie with baby penguins, they show polar bears with them when it’s not true at all.
We agree that two adorable furry animals look alike and have a lot of similarities, but get your facts straight. These two live thousands of miles away, let alone share a habitat.
Baby penguins are found in the southern hemisphere, like Antarctica, New Zealand, Australia, and the Galapagos Islands.
However, Polar bears are found in the northern hemisphere, like Alaska, Greenland, Russia, and Canada.
12. Young Penguins Have Different Colors Than Adults
We all know penguins are white and black, but the young ones are not.
The baby penguins are usually white or gray in color. Scientists say this is to let the adult penguins know that the baby penguins are not their competition. Another important reason is quickly identifying the baby penguins in the snow in the gray coat.
13. Baby Penguins Recognize their Parents’ Voice in a Crowd
Baby penguins are more intelligent than we thought.
In big groups, they tend to only use vocalization cues to identify who their parents are and make their way to following that unique sound.
That’s the end of 13 facts about baby penguins for you. Let us know if you found something new today in the comments section below.