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The Height Of Penguins – What Does Their Height Say About Them?

From the Little Penguin to the Emperor Penguin, these cute waddlers inhabit a range of environments and vary in size and weight rather remarkably.

You might have heard of penguin species that grow almost as tall as 7 feet. This is not false, per se, but keep in mind that in this case, we are talking about prehistoric species that are now extinct. But how big are the living species? Let’s take a look.


How Big Are Penguins?

Penguins vary in size across different species, with the average height ranging from 2 to 3 feet. Smaller penguin species, such as the Little Penguin, typically inhabit temperate or tropical climates, while larger species, like Emperor Penguins, are generally found in colder environments.

Read more: Where do penguins live?

The size distribution of penguins across different climates is primarily influenced by evolutionary adaptations and ecological niche specialization.

penguins waddling

Larger penguins, such as the Emperor Penguin, are better suited to colder climates due to their increased body mass, which helps them conserve heat in frigid environments. The larger body size allows them to retain more heat and withstand extreme cold temperatures. Additionally, the larger penguins often have a thick layer of blubber that serves as insulation against the cold.

On the other hand, smaller penguin species, like the Little Penguin, are adapted to warmer or temperate climates where the need for insulation isn’t as necessary. Their smaller size helps them dissipate heat more efficiently, preventing overheating.


The Shortest & The Tallest

Most penguin species fall between the 20-34-inch range, which makes the shortest and tallest of the bunch really stand out. The smallest penguins are the Little Penguin and its close relative, the Australian Little Penguin.

These diminutive birds stand at an average height of 1 foot. In stark contrast, the largest of all penguin species is the Emperor Penguin. Towering over its counterparts, the Emperor Penguin reaches an impressive height of almost 4 feet.

Here is an overview of all the penguin species currently alive by their average size from largest to smallest:


Emperor Penguin Aptenodytes forsteri 45 inches
King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus 34 inches
Gentoo Penguin Pygoscelis papua 32 inches
Adélie Penguin Pygoscelis adeliae 29 inches
Chinstrap Penguin Pygoscelis antarcticus 29 inches
Yellow-eyed Penguin Megadyptes antipodes 28 inches
Royal Penguin Eudyptes schlegeli 28 inches
Macaroni Penguin Eudyptes chrysolophus 28 inches
Magellanic Penguin Spheniscus magellanicus 27 inches
African Penguin Spheniscus demersus 26 inches
Humboldt Penguin Spheniscus humboldti 25 inches
Fiordland Penguin Eudyptes pachyrhynchus 24 inches
Erect-crested Penguin Eudyptes sclateri 24 inches
Snares Penguin Eudyptes robustus 23 inches
Northern Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes moseleyi 21 inches
Southern Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes chrysocome 21 inches
Galápagos Penguin Spheniscus mendiculus 20 inches
Little Penguin Eudyptula minor 12-13 inches
Australian Little Penguin Eudyptula novaehollandiae 12-13 inches


How Much Do Penguins Weigh?

Adult penguins can weigh anywhere between two to a hundred pounds depending on the species, with the Emperor Penguin holding the title of the heaviest species.

They can weigh up to 99 pounds, a sizeable bulk necessary for insulation and survival in the extreme cold of the Antarctic.

Emperor Penguins

Emperor Penguins are quite stocky – they have to hold on to their body heat.

In contrast, the Little Penguin claims the title of the lightest penguin species, with adults weighing around 2-3 pounds. The difference in weight is influenced by factors such as climate and ecological niche.

Larger penguins are better equipped to endure harsh and cold conditions, while smaller species, excel in milder and warmer environments.

The weight variation is also evident as babies, where the smallest penguin, the Little Penguin chick, may weigh merely an ounce at hatching. Conversely, Emperor Penguin chicks start at a comparatively hefty 14 ounces at birth.


The Measurements Of Penguins: Some Fun Facts

  • The tallest penguin species on record is Palaeeudyptes klekowskii, standing at 6 foot 6 inches tall. According to estimations, it weighed around 250 pounds. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), this species is long extinct. The fossils found in Antarctica are about 37 million years old.
  • The heaviest penguin ever recorded is a prehistoric species Kumimanu fordycei from around 55-60 million years ago, found in New Zealand. According to estimations, it weighed up to 340 pounds. However, it was shorter than the tallest penguin species on record, measuring “only” 5.2 feet tall.
  • Coming back to the land of the living, the tallest living penguin species is the Emperor Penguin, standing up to 4 feet 3 inches tall.
  • The Emperor Penguin is also the heaviest penguin. A male adult can weigh up to 99 pounds! However, their weight varies greatly during the breeding season, as they will undergo a 110-day fast, which results in them losing up to 45% of their body weight.
  • The biggest penguin egg is also from the Emperor Penguin and weighs around 16 ounces. For comparison, an average chicken egg weighs only around 2 ounces.
  • Among the living penguin species, the Little Penguin lays the smallest eggs, measuring 2.2 inches long and 1.6 inches wide.
  • In comparison, the Emperor Penguin’s eggs measure 5 inches long and 3 inches wide.
  • Nowadays, penguins have rather short and stubby bills. However, around 36 million years ago, there were giant penguins standing about 5 feet tall that had giant spear-like bills measuring around 10 inches in length.


Frequently Asked Questions

How tall are Emperor Penguins?

Emperor Penguins are around 45 inches tall.

How tall are King Penguins?

King Penguins are 34 inches tall on average.

How big is the average penguin?

The average penguin measures anywhere from 20 to 30 inches tall if we leave aside the shortest and tallest penguin species.

Can penguins be 5ft?

No living penguin species can be 5 feet tall. However, prehistoric penguin species could measure over 6 feet tall.

How tall is the shortest penguin?

The shortest penguin, the Little Penguin, is 12-13 inches tall on average.

Why are penguins so clumsy?

Penguins are clumsy on land as their bodies are best suited for swimming. In the water, however, they are fast and agile.

How tall was the first penguin?

First penguins, or prehistoric penguins, could measure anywhere from 5 feet to 6 feet 6 inches tall.

About the Author

Heleen Roos

Heleen has loved the outdoors and nature since childhood and has always been fascinated with birds, leading her to research more about them. She has accumulated a lot of knowledge about their behaviors and habits through birdwatching tours and her own explorations. Her goal is to share the most interesting and useful facts about them.

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