Are Penguins Herbivores?

Depending upon the type of feeds, living beings in the world are classified into three categories, namely

  1. Herbivores – an animal that depends on plants for food.
  2. Carnivores – an animal that eats other animals.
  3. Omnivores – an animal or human feeds on both plants and animals.

Even birds belong to the omnivores category, some eat plants, and some eat other animals. Penguins belong to the group of birds, which feed on small fish, squid, and shrimp-like structured animals known to be krill. Since they eat other animals, they are not herbivores.

If penguins are carnivores, then how do they get their food? Where are they available? How do they eat? How much they can eat? The answers are here.

How do they get their food? Where are they available?

Penguins are surviving in human un-habitat climate, i.e., in the southern hemisphere of the world, Antarctica and other southern countries islands, and surrounding seas. Their resting colonies with their family is very far from the place where they get food.

Male penguins hold the responsibility to take care of their eggs or chicks, whereas female penguins have to hunt for food. Their food is abundantly available in deep underwater in an open ocean.

Female penguins have to travel around 50 miles from their resting place to get an open ocean where they get their prey. They dive into the icy water and swim using their flippers which are in the form of wings. Their swimming speed and depth depends upon their species. They can dive up to 1,850 feet and at speed 15 mph. They can hold their breath for 20 minutes underwater. They hunt for two months under the open ocean.

Penguin with Food

How do they eat food?

Using this speed and depth, they hunt their food under deep water. They always attack a large group of fish which is spherical with a center, known as bait-ball. They have sharp eyes that help to spot their prey underwater. Using their sharp beak, they catch the fish which is escaping from the group, and their rearward pointed tongue help to intake without slipping. They don’t have teeth, instead of chewing they swallow the food. They can eat one at a time.

How much can they eat?

Food consumption also depends upon the species of the penguins. For example, the largest penguin species of the world, emperor penguins consume almost six kilograms per day. The smallest penguin species, little penguins eat food about 25-30% of their body weight, i.e., approximately 250 grams.

Penguin Swallowing the Fish

Do penguins eat other penguins?

Since the penguins are predators, we may have a query that does they eat other penguins as food?

No, they eat only fish, krill, squid, and other aquatic organisms like rock crab, etc. Sometimes penguins itself become a meat food for other giant animals present on the island like a leopard seal.


To survive in the freezing climate, they have to eat food, which is rich in oxygen, nutrition, and fat. Penguins become carnivores due to the availability of food in the place they are sustaining. Since they are predators, we can conclude that they are not herbivores.

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I got interested in penguins from a young age and as I grew I realized that penguins are such fascinating birds. I made it a mission to create a website where all information about penguins could be accessed in an easy to read format.

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