Are there Penguins in Iceland?

Penguins are one of the beautiful creatures on earth. And Iceland is one of the spectacular countries on earth. Imagining penguin in Iceland is quite a glad thing. But, we are unfortunate; there are no penguins in Iceland. There are many reasons why penguins not found in Iceland.

Penguins are endemic to Southern Hemisphere; they live in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands. Amongst the 17 species of penguins, one penguin species called Galapagos penguins live in the north of the equator. Iceland is in North Atlantic and it is a Nordic island country since it is in the Northern Europe and North Atlantic.

Why is Iceland not a place for penguins?

Penguins have to cover up around 17,000 km to reach Iceland. Iceland is not the right place for penguins to survive. Iceland is a volcanically and geologically active place. Even though Iceland is a temperate region, because of the latitude the summers are chill with tundra climate.

Wildlife of Iceland:

Wildlife of Iceland includes, rabbits, rats, mice, reindeer, mink and Arctic fox. In 2008, there were polar bears found in Iceland which voyaged with the help of icebergs from Greenland. Polar bears were a threat to livestock and humans and killed to safeguard the living in Iceland. Later on there are no records of polar bears visiting Iceland after the year 2008.

There is one more interesting fact that makes people think that penguins are in Iceland. That is because of another spectacular bird called Puffin. Puffins are the habitat of Iceland. It is one of the main tourist attractions of Iceland.

Iceland has 60% of the world’s entire Atlantic puffin population. During summer, between May and August, you can find a lot of puffins flocking in Iceland.

Puffin and the misconception:

  • Visitors to Iceland misunderstand puffins as penguins because of their similar features. Puffins also have a nickname as ‘sea parrots’. They have a parrot-like head and the black and white body makes them similar to penguins.
  • Puffins can swim efficiently like penguins than flying. Puffins look clumsy when they fly. They waddle on the land like penguins.
  • When puffins molt, their old plumages fall out and they appear dark grey. Also, the beak of the puffins changes color during molting season. Before molting, the adult puffin has a bright orange beak.
  • Like penguins, puffins are also monogamous that live with the same partner for many years.
  • Female puffin produces an only a single egg in a year like female penguins. Few species like crested penguins lay two to three eggs in a single time.
  • Also puffins are smaller and they are about 30 cm almost with the same height of little penguins also called as fairy penguins that live in Australia.
  • Puffins spend the major part of their lives at sea like penguins. Atlantic puffins when found sitting on a cliff top resembles closely to the extinct ‘Great Auk’ the ancestral flightless penguin species.
  • Puffins also spread near the islands during their breeding season which gives a similar view as that of penguins that huddle near the shores.


  • Unlike penguins, puffin’s beak can hold up to 60 small fishes at a time.
  • Puffins can fly and penguins are flightless birds.
  • Puffins have thin and strong leg bones that are helpful for flying as well as swimming. Whereas, penguins have strong solid bones that help only in swimming efficiently. Though, puffins have almost solid bones nearly to penguins.
  • Puffins often prefer to stay on islands to avoid becoming easy prey for land predators.
  • Puffins breed on Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, Norway and North Atlantic islands such as the British Isles and the Faroe
  • Penguins have flippers where puffins have properly developed wings.
  • Likewise, Puffins have longer plumages whereas; penguins have short, strong and densely grown plumages.
  • There are four different species of puffins. There are 17 species of living penguins.
  • Puffins live in holes, they don’t prepare nests.


The similarities between the two species puffins and penguins make us consider that penguin is also the habitat of Iceland. Both the species are seabirds that make one of the main reasons too. Puffins were also responsible for the mix-up of penguins can fly. Because, when puffins fly they look like a penguin flying in the air.

As for how penguins cannot be the habitat of the Arctic along with polar bears, it is true that penguins cannot live in Iceland. The two cute little seabirds are responsible for the optical illusion amongst people. Thus, penguins found in Iceland are always an April fool joke.



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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John - August 27, 2022


I was in the Antartic years ago with the British Antartic Survey and I remember being in a penguin cookery on one of the offshore islands. The rookery was just a vast open plain of rock,sheltered and penguins have lived there for thousands and thousands of years. The rock was all stained red burgundy colour after thousands of years of excreatment and the place smelt of millennia of poop!


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