Do Penguins Attack Humans

In regular life, we don’t usually stumble across penguins. There’s a reason why we don’t go to the locations where they reside. Is it possible for penguins to attack people, and if so, how would they do it?

We were curious about the answer, so we did some investigation. As a result, penguins attack people. However, as penguins live far away from people and other mammals, it is unusual.

Whenever a penguin feels threatened, it will peck at you with its beak and attack you with its wings or flippers.

Long nibs and hooks on the end of penguins’ claws can pierce your flesh. So, now you know if penguins attack humans?

There is, however, a great deal more information that has to be acquired. Let’s look at when penguins attack humans and how deadly they can be. We’d also want to go over some more information that you should know.

When do penguins attack humans?

Penguins, such as emperor penguins, can be found in zoos and other places. As a result, zoo workers will intervene if penguins attack a human.

zoo workers with penguins

Suppose it was a wild penguin, on the other hand. Almost every penguin species feeds on seabirds or aquatic animals. As a result, they do not know humans.

If a penguin encountered a person in the woods, they would be more perplexed than if they encountered any other creature. As a result, humans are unlikely to be attacked by penguins. Not without reason, at least.

Like most animals, penguins are highly protective of their young. If you get too close to a penguin nest, especially if it has chicks, then you can probably expect to be chased away. 

For this reason, if a penguin attacks you, you may be beaten by the penguin’s feathers or bitten by its beak.

Penguins are social creatures. Penguins huddle together with up to 100 other penguins to protect themselves from the cold. Now, if you stroll into a penguin’s tribe, you might have an issue.

Perhaps hundreds of penguins will assault you all at once. It’s one thing to have a beak and a couple of feathers, but it’s quite another to have a hundred friends supporting you.

Do penguins like humans?

Penguins are cute-looking animals that can be potentially dangerous when provoked or attacked by humans and even other animals.

In general, they are peaceful birds, so they will not attack anyone without reason.

The Penguins, though, have attacked humans who approached them too closely. Penguins are predatory birds, so these birds can be dangerous to people who put their lives at risk. However, humans do not usually contact penguins because of where they live.

Humans who visit penguin colonies in Antarctica are needed to stay at least five meters away from the birds. It ensures that they do not invade their personal space, leading to attacks.

They can cause significant pain by inflicting injuries on humans, although there have been no reports of anyone dying from penguin attacks. However, they peck using their beaks which can cause small bites that can bleed.

During an attack, there is a possibility of falling and breaking a bone or a severe head injury. That’s why it is essential to keep a minimum distance if you come across penguins.

How do penguins react when they see humans?

Penguins become aggressive when they see a human near their nesting sites. They need to protect their eggs from being bitten or taken away by humans.

Penguins are not aggressive all the time. During your vacation at the beach, you may see some penguins come across you to look at you out of curiosity.

The waddling’s walk and cute appearance of penguins may invite you to reach them. But in any tourist place with a penguin colony, it is highly restricted to disturb their livings. 

Authorized research people can approach the penguins for the study because they have more knowledge than a typical person.

Authorized research interacting with a penguin

Do penguins bite humans?

Yes, penguins can bite humans to defend themselves and their nest sites with beaks and wings. They bite fiercely and use their thick, strap-like feathers to defeat their opponent.

Blue penguins and most crested species are regular fighters, often getting into bloody disputes during the breeding season.

More reclusive species, such as the yellow-eyed penguin, rarely fight among themselves but are still ready to bite anyone who goes too close.

Like most penguins, the penguin species of New Zealand does not like to be touched by humans. The penguins can beat humans up with their needle-nosed pliers whenever humans approach too close.

Do penguins become aggressive when they see humans?

Penguins are not aggressive if not provoked, so it is rare to come across a penguin attacking a human or other animal for no reason.

In addition to getting too close to someone too quickly, penguins can attack them for various reasons.

You must never approach them in a hostile manner as they may interpret it as an attack so that they can attack you back.

It is best to maintain a distance of at least five meters whenever you are close to a penguin.

Suppose they come to you, move slowly away from them without turning your back to them.

These birds are very protective of their families, mainly their young and nests. That’s why while they are not aggressive, they will attack you if you approach their young or fear you.

You should specifically keep your distance from their nests so that they do not feel threatened by your presence.

It is also important not to approach penguins when trying to attract a mate. Some species do this by nesting, so you should stay away from them if you see them gathering rocks.

Loud noises can also make penguins aggressive as it scares them and makes them think they are in danger. That’s why you should speak mildly around them and close your camera’s shutter so that they do not startle.

Are penguins afraid of humans?

It is an interesting question and can help find out the reason behind when and why they attack humans? Most penguins go their entire lives without ever encountering a human.

They are not terrified of humans because they do not live in a human-dominated environment. It’s possible that seeing people will pique their interest.

They don’t fear the large size of people, so if provoked, they will attack that person regardless of the size difference.

Penguins are not afraid of humans because animals do not regularly hunt them on earth; they only attack humans when they provoke them.

Although penguins are small and solitary birds, not many predators in Antarctica hunt them. Giant animals can attack penguins, but they do not regularly as penguins are pretty dangerous.

If a penguin sees a human in the wild, they are likely to be curious rather than afraid. If you stayed a safe distance and didn’t get too close to their nesting site, chances are the penguins won’t be too scared or upset by you. 

Is it true that penguins can hurt humans?

Yes, penguins do attack humans. It is pretty rare, as penguins live away from humans and mammals. It also depends on the species, and penguins weigh between 3 and 50 pounds.

If a penguin feels threatened by you, then that’s enough for a penguin to make a dent or within whatever part of your leg they can reach. Penguins’ beaks are sharp.

Penguins pursue a bird’s prey, but if they attack your own feet, you might get a nasty infection.

Penguins travel in flocks, so you are unlikely to be assaulted by a single bird. Your best defense from penguins is that penguins do not eat on land and therefore will not think of you as their food source.

They may, however, consider you a threat to their eggs and chicks. As a result, you must keep a safe distance from them.

How do penguins attack humans?

Penguins are unable to walk and cannot even kick with their feet. A penguin cannot boot, but it can undoubtedly slap with its robust, flipper-like wings. A penguin would be unable to catch a person due to this. An assault is only likely if a human goes too close to the penguin.

In addition, penguins have long poking bills. Though penguins lack teeth, their beaks can grow as much as 8m in length. But an average penguin can reach as high as human legs. That means a penguin can hurt a human leg.

On certain occasions, penguin bites have resulted in lacerations in the hands of wildlife workers. If a human irritates a penguin in a colony, the entire territory will attack you. Such penguins will also strike a camera gear if set close to their nesting location.

While most penguins would chase a human, penguins such as Chinstraps, Gentoo, and Adélie tend to be more aggressive than other penguins.

Which species of penguins are dangerous than others?

Like every other bird, there are different species of penguins, ranging from Gentoo, Rockhopper, Emperor, King, Adelie, Macroni, all the way past several other species down to chinstrap penguins.

Of all these, the most dangerous penguins are the crested penguins, like Chinstrap and Rockpohher penguins. These species of penguins are very aggressive.

When they detect a predator or a rival approaching, they plan for a strong bite with their powerful beak, a hard slap with their wings, and then a purse to drive the opponent away from their territory.

Are there any tips to take a closer view of penguins?

tips to take a closer view of penguins

Yes, here are some pointers to keep in mind before approaching penguins. Read on

  • Ignore the noxious odor – It takes some time to get acclimated to the ammoniacal stink of guano (feces) in a penguin rookery. A rookery is like a polar barnyard.
  • Be quiet – Penguins are frightened by the loud sound.
  • Slow down – sudden movements point the penguins to predators, reacting accordingly.
  • Stay low or sit down – You can use your padded jacket as a cushion to sit on rocky ground.
  • Be patient – It may take half an hour or more to make a social situation between you and the penguin.
  • Find your own space – It’s unnecessary to go to the far side of the rook to get away from the crowd. You don’t hang around with a group of people who may or may not be as good as you. They might be able to produce a little less noise as well.
  • Put away your camera – Too often, people are so focused on getting the “perfect shot” that they forget to see with their own eyes. It’s a different way of looking when not looking through a viewfinder. 

Our most memorable experiences in Antarctica are etched in my mind, not on a memory chip or roll of film.

Final Thoughts

Humans should be aware that penguins can be rather harmful. They use their wings and beaks to attack humans.

On the other hand, humans do not suffer much harm from it, and anyone could fall to the point of receiving a head injury or breaking a bone.

These birds frequently attack in flocks, and the individual might be injured and bleed as a result. Birds may quickly overrun individuals and knock them down, resulting in additional injuries.

As a human, the best way to avoid conflict with these penguins is to stay away from their habitat. It’s better not bother their nests or approach too close to their young.

Although young penguins are pretty curious and may approach you, it is best to stay away from them as touching them can attack the adult penguin.

The facts to get cleared with answers are indeed interesting. I hope you got the response to the factual discussion that happened one day with your friends or family where you left the space filled with sheepish smiles.

Image Links:

zoo workers with penguins by chacha8080 / Pixabay License
Authorized research interacting with a penguin by U.S. Geological Survey / Public domain
tips to take a closer view of penguins by Tanya Patrick, CSIRO / CC BY

Reference Links:


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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