Do Penguins Have Fur? How Do Penguins Live In Such Frigid Climate?

Shirin Biswas
Mar 25, 2023 By Shirin Biswas
Originally Published on Nov 16, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Niyati Parab
Penguins walk down the beach.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.7 Min

Is a penguin's beautiful tuxedo-like coat made of fur or feathers?

Well, the answer is simple. Even though penguins cannot fly, they do have wings and have feathers instead of fur!

These animals have been amusing human beings with their cuteness for many years. Understandably, we as humans have also been particularly keen on understanding penguins and their anatomy. One of the questions that often arises is whether or not penguins have fur, just like the polar bears that live in the cold Arctic. The answer is no. Penguins actually have short and dense feathers which help them in staying warm when on land.

These flightless birds have a distinct set of features that set them apart from many other animals. Keep reading for the most interesting facts about penguins and their beautiful coats! If you enjoy reading this article, why not also check out are penguins endangered and are there penguins in Alaska here at Kidadl!

Do penguins have fur or feathers?

Since we have been habituated with the idea that animals that live in cold places such as near the poles would require fur, people often assume that even penguins have fur. However, this is hardly true.

Penguins have feathers as most flighted birds do. Penguin feathers are rather thick and are useful in making sure that the animal is warm even in cold temperatures since the density is high. The number of feathers in every small part of a penguin's body, combined with the fact that they have a thick layer of fat underneath their skin, helps penguins and their different species in being protected against the extremely cold temperatures.

Penguins having fur has become a rather popular misconception since their pole neighbors - polar bears - are furry animals. However, it must be understood that the genetic qualities of penguins and polar bears hardly match. Furthermore, these birds have different habitats. Penguins would have been able to keep themselves warm while on the land if they had thick fur, but when swimming, the fur would have brought them down. Hence, the short feathers make an excellent fit for these adult penguins as well as for baby penguins.

Climate Change Affecting Penguins

There are several penguin species that are threatened due to climate change. Human practices such as excessive fishing and global warming caused by different appliances and products also largely affect the lives of most penguin species.

These animals live on the land and water, but their sole source of nutrition is provided by sea creatures. With the rise of global warming, a lot of the fish species that would have been inhabiting places near the poles and places such as New Zealand and Australia are now either dead or have relocated to other parts of the world. Climate changes have also threatened the lives of oceanic creatures such as krill. Krills live and grow on sea ice, and since climate changes have depleted sheets of sea ice, there is no place left for krills to breed in. Since penguins are very fond of krill and largely depend on this crustacean for their diet, even the penguin population is affected largely when warmer climates start depleting the number of sea creatures that are available for consumption.

Penguins like to maintain their body temperature at a rather moderate limit, and warmer temperatures tend to become excessively problematic for them. This is because the metabolic system and the body weight and feather patterns of these birds ensure that they stay warm in the extreme cold of the northern hemisphere and south pole. Now that the temperatures of these areas have irreversibly changed and become quite high, it is noticed that these warm-blooded animals have begun to suffer. While some penguin species such as the king penguins and emperor penguins have started to lose some of their feathers, still others have started to die due to an inability to adapt to the changing living standards. Additionally, there is also a layer of fat under a penguin's skin which is required in colder climates. However, when in warmer weather conditions, this animal understandably suffers a lot.

In addition to climate change, there are a number of other factors that have been contributing to the decline of the population of species such as emperor penguins, African penguins, macaroni penguins, and rockhopper penguins. Such factors would include pollution of the oceans and seas. Human beings often dispose of their trash into water bodies without considering the harsh effects that such acts have on sea creatures.

Gentoo Penguins on the ice.

Different Species Of Penguins

The natural world is a treasure trove of different species of animals, and penguins have always been some of the most loved and adored ones from among them. There is hardly anyone who would not think that a little penguin, walking on its tiny webbed feet is not extremely cute.

Emperor penguins are the most popular ones and are only found in Antarctica. These penguins are known for their sharp tuxedo-like coat and their large stature. In fact, emperor penguins are the largest penguins known to humankind. An emperor penguin is sure to take your breath away, given just how regal and adorable the animal is. One of the most interesting facts about emperor penguins is that the male emperor penguins and female ones look exactly the same. Their physical features are similar to the point that their sex can only be told apart through a DNA test! You must have seen an emperor penguin or two in movies since they are the ones that are usually depicted in popular culture. Emperor penguin colonies are found all over the ice shelves of Antarctica, where their population is concentrated. A baby penguin of this species is likely to be quite large and feathery, to begin with. These penguins are also known as Antarctic penguins after their choice of habitat. Emperor penguin chicks often make close groups in order to stay warm in the extremely cold temperatures!

African penguins are also very popular. They live in rather warmer climates and hence, they do not have many feathers. Understandably, they do not have too many feathers so that the warmer temperatures can be adapted to. African penguin chicks are taken care of by their parents. While one parent takes care of feeding the children, the other stands guard against any predators that may be around!

The blue penguins found in New Zealand and Australia are a rare sight. These animals are rather tiny in comparison to other species of penguins such as the emperor penguins and are found in moderate climatic conditions. Blue penguins also help us in consolidating the fact that not all penguins are found in cold temperatures or near the poles. In fact, there are many penguins that are only found in warmer climatic conditions such as near the equator.

The Galapagos penguins, found in the Galapagos islands of South America are also rather small and beautiful. These penguins of the Galapagos islands are seriously threatened by various man-made factors such as pollution and global warming. The result of this is that this penguin species is only found in very small numbers at the present day and will soon become extinct if proper steps are not taken towards the conservation of the species.

The Adélie penguin is another penguin species found in Antarctica. These penguins are rather short and stocky, and look extremely adorable when wobbling across mountains of ice!

How we can help penguins?

Penguins are not flying birds, and hence, they cannot migrate when the temperatures of their habitat begin to change. There are several factors that have been affecting the penguin populations across the globe - such as pollution and global warming. As admirers of these beautiful creatures, it becomes our responsibility to make sure that these birds feel safe in their habitat and are not pushed towards extinction. Such conservation methods would include controlling the global carbon and heat emission, responsible disposal of trash that pollutes the seas and oceans, and responsible fishing.

It must be understood that each baby penguin is deprived of its food when we start killing the sea creatures that it would have fed on. Both irresponsible fishing and global warming are to be blamed for the food scarcity that penguins have been facing in recent years. The penguin population is also affected largely by global warming since the fat layers and feathers of these animals are designed in such a way that they can hardly survive when the climate begins to get hotter. An Antarctic penguin, understandably, is likely to suffer greatly when the temperature rises.

Humans can also help by making sure that their garbage is disposed of correctly. Human garbage often finds its way to water bodies and then sticks to penguins' feathers. Other man-made disasters such as oil spills can also be detrimental to a penguin's life and wellbeing. We must therefore remember that we are not the only ones on the planet and that our actions have an irreversible effect on other lives as well!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly factsfor everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for dopenguins have furthen why not take a look at are there penguins in the north pole, or penguin facts.

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Written by Shirin Biswas

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

Shirin Biswas picture

Shirin BiswasBachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

With a degree in English from Amity University, Noida, Shirin has won awards for oratory, acting, and creative writing. She has a wealth of experience as an English teacher, editor, and writer, having previously worked at Quizzy and Big Books Publishing. Her expertise lies in editing study guides for children and creating engaging content.

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