We typically think of penguins as dwelling in freezing cold climates like Antarctica. But people often ask: can penguins live in warm weather? Only around four to five types of penguins actually live in Antarctica and its surrounds.
The rest of the penguin species are living in different parts of the world, some in temperate zones near the equator. Let’s take a look at which penguins are warm weather penguins.
Penguins That Live in Warm Weather
The two genera of penguin that live in warmer climates than any other are Spheniscus and Eudyptula. The four Spheniscus species can be distinguished from others by the naked skin on their black and white heads, and a stripe of black feathers down their sides.
The Galapagos penguin is the northernmost of these, and lives near or on the equator. The single Eudyptula species lives in Australia and New Zealand. The African or Jackass penguin lives in Southern Africa, most notably, South Africa and Namibia.
The Galapagos penguin, Spheniscus mendiculus, is the most tropical of all the species in its family. They are also the rarest of penguins, with fewer than 1,000 breeding pairs.
In addition to this distinction, Galapagos penguins are smallest penguins in the Spheniscus group. Adult birds typically weigh less than five pounds.
These penguins feed mainly on small schooling fish, such as mullet and sardines. The surface temperature of the coastal waters they inhabit can fluctuate anywhere between 59 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, their prey does not flourish in warm waters, which means that Galapagos penguins do not breed when the water is at its warmest and food supplies are lowest.
The African penguin, Spheniscus demersus, makes its home in South African waters. These birds grow to a height of just over two feet and weigh around seven pounds.
African penguins forage near the shoreline and consume mostly anchovies. They reproduce in burrows created in crevices of rocks close to the coast, often emitting loud braying noises that land them the nickname “Jackass penguins.”
African Penguins have black feet. They form a colony for nesting that is massive. These penguins also have a special gland that is pink in color and above the eyes which helps to cool the body during hot weather by using the surrounding air to cool down blood being sent there.
Penguins have an oil gland beneath their tail feathers. By using their beaks, they preen and coat their feathers with oil, which helps keep them waterproof. For food, these penguins primarily eat anchovies, squid, and other small fish.
Habituating along the Falkland Islands and the coasts of Chile and Argentina are the Magellanic penguins, Spheniscus magellanicus. These are small penguins that only grow to be 2 feet tall on average and weigh 11 pounds. This is also the only Spheniscus species that migrate..
Most closely resembling their African penguin relatives, Magellanic penguins feed primarily on small fish like anchovies and sardines. They are the only Spheniscus species to forage in open water rather than near land.
The Humboldt penguin, otherwise known as Spheniscus humboldti to scientists, resides off the coast of Peru and Chile on various islands in western South America. Much like other members of the Spheniscus species, these birds typically grow no taller than 2 feet and only weigh 9 pounds when fully developed.
Humboldt penguins breed in a variety of climates, from extremely dry to hot and humid. Their diet consists mostly of small schooling fish like anchovies and sardines which they typically find close to shore.
This group consists of the smallest species among all penguins; they are a fairy or blue penguins. These penguins mostly found in coasts of New Zealand, Chatham Islands, and south coasts of Australia. Their body is blue color, so they are known as blue penguins.
There are less than 1 million of these creatures. They stand at just 16 inches tall and weigh around 2 pounds. They spend most of the daytime in a burrow or tunnel they dug on the coast, and this is also where they breed. At night, they go hunting for small fish near the shore.
The world’s smallest penguin is the Antipodean fairy, which only grows to be 16 inches and weighs a minuscule 2 pounds.
The nocturnal penguins’ horizontal posture and lack of distinctive features set them apart from other birds. They spend their days in burrows near the coast before coming out at night to look for small fish near shore.
In conclusion, not only do penguins live in cold climates, they can also survive in warm environments. The Spheniscus family of penguins, which includes the banded group like Galapagos, Magellanic, Humboldt and African Penguins, can thrive in mild climates.
Additionally, the smallest species of all penguins, known as fairy or little blue penguins, are able to live in warm weather regions.