Do Penguins Have Teeth?

Watching penguins eat fish or krill always makes one wonder, do penguins have teeth? Well, the simple answer is that no, they do not have teeth. In fact, penguins have serrated needle-like spines on the top and bottom of the inside of their mouth which helps them in swallowing prey.

These serrated spines can also look like teeth in some instances, but they help to keep the prey down and prevent it from coming back up the penguin’s mouth. The barbs are positioned inwards so that it’s easy for the prey to go in, but impossible to come out as it will get caught up in the barbs.

If you ever see an image of a penguin with its mouth open, you might mistake these spines for teeth, but these are simply fleshy structures that help the penguin in swallowing fish.

How do Penguins Chew Food Without Teeth?

Penguins don’t chew their food as they don’t have teeth. They swallow the krill or fish that they catch. The food is digested in their stomach and penguins often feed their young with regurgitated food that they bring up from their stomach.

penguins mouth

penguins mouth opening

As penguins do not have teeth, they cannot chew any of the fish that they swallow. To aid digestion in their stomach, many penguins swallow stones. Penguins also swallow stones of all sizes, from pebbles to large stones. Many other bird species swallow stones to grind the food they eat while it’s in their stomach.

Do Baby Penguins Have Teeth?

Baby penguins, or chicks, do not have teeth, but when they are hatching from their egg, they have a tooth-like bump on top of their beak. This small bump is called an “egg tooth” and it helps them to break the hard shell of the egg. As the baby penguin grows, the egg tooth is absorbed into the beak.

Baby penguins are also completely dependent on their parents for sustenance. The adult penguins feed the baby penguins beak to beak by regurgitating fish and krill mixed with their own body’s oils that contain all the nutrients that baby penguins need.

How Do Penguins Catch Fish without Teeth?

Do Penguins Have Teeth

Penguins mouth

Penguins are highly efficient swimmers as their bodies are streamlined, and they can dive to great depths as much as 500m. While diving, penguins catch fish in their beaks and swallow them whole. Penguin beaks have a hook shape at the end that helps them to bite into the fish that they catch. The serrated, fleshy barbs on their tongue and upper part of mouth keep the fish hooked in so that it cannot escape.


The fleshy barbs in the mouth of a penguin can be easily mistaken for teeth, but the reality is that penguins do not have any teeth. Like most other birds, penguins also swallow their food and then eat stones of varying sizes to digest the food in their stomach.

The inward shape of the barbs in the teeth of penguins is crucial in keeping the fish and krill inside the mouth of the penguin. The barbs prevent the fish from crawling out of the mouth and also help in easy swallowing of the prey.

So, did you ever think that penguins have teeth? We hope this article helped in clarifying the answer to that question. Do let us know your thoughts, suggestions or queries in the comment section.



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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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