Penguins, everybody loves them. No, we are not talking about the Penguin game or pens game. The fluffy, adorable animal. They waddle, they slide, they fall on their little fat bellies, and they always look like they’re ready for a night out on the town. But aside from all that, how much do you really know about our dapper little friends? Or what do you think you know, but is actually false? How good are you at knowing all the Penguin facts?
Let’s take a look at some common penguin misconceptions and separate our feathered friends’ facts from fiction.
Penguins only live on Antarctica
Actually only four species, the Adélie, Chinstrap, Emperor, and Gentoo live and/or breed on or near the actual continent of Antarctica.
From there we have to range further afield to the sub-Antarctic islands. For example, the King, Macaroni, and Rockhopper penguins are all found on South Georgia and the Falklands. And the Galapagos penguin lives on, appropriately enough, the Galapagos Islands which are found west of Ecuador, pretty much right on the Equator.
Penguins can be found in the Arctic
Nope! Penguins have never had the pleasure of meeting a polar bear. Penguins are purely a southern hemisphere bird (with a little wriggle room for the aforementioned Galapagos penguins).
So why haven’t they ever made the long trip north? The reason is that all those warm tropical waters that we humans love to swim in are actually pretty lame when it comes to sustaining life – especially millions of hungry penguins. The cold waters found at the Poles are much richer in nutritious fish.
Penguins stay with their mates for life
Not really. It’s estimated that roughly half of all penguins can and do hook up with the last year’s mate, but a number of factors can change that decision. For example, the most obvious reason for a switcheroo is that one of the two simply didn’t make it back to the breeding ground.
Even if the male does show up, if he’s a bit tardy he might find that his lady-friend from last year has moved on to a new fellow, usually one found close to her familiar nest location.
Female penguins can be quite naughty. While sometimes male penguins will choose a new female and “move in” with her for good instead of his original mate, females will sometimes sneak out for the penguin equivalent of a quickie.
Females have also been seen tricking lonely males out of their nest stones. Since single males don’t have much else to do but build their nests, they end up acquiring quite the treasure trove of nest-worthy stones. A sneaky female will leave her own nest, approach the lonely male, and bow to him, the penguin sign that says she thinks the male is the bee’s knees. However, when the male bows back and thinks, “Finally! Tonight’s the night!” the female will grab one of his nest stones and run it back to her own nest.
Penguins shove each other in the water to test for seals
Penguins aren’t quite so mean to each other. They do end up shoving each other into the drink sometimes, but really that’s more the result of so many of them cramming together at the water’s edge combined with their lack of grace when on land.
Penguins have fur
What? No! They’re birds! They have feathers.
Actually, you can be forgiven if you mistook their outer coat for fur. The feathers, not being used to maintain flight, are very short and densely packed.
Just like your layers of clothes on an Antarctic cruise, a penguin’s layered feathers serve to act like fur, being much more concerned with keeping the birds warm and waterproof (like fur does for animals) than with keeping them up in the air.
Cool right? More reasons to adore Penguins? What do you think?