How Do Penguins Stay Warm?

Some of the penguins live in icy places like the Antarctic region where the temperature of the water never increases beyond the freezing points. Certain species of the penguin lives in the North. However, maximum of the penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere.

These flightless birds that live on the ice and ice packed oceans but have you ever think that how do penguins stay warm? How do they survive in such killing weather and temperature?

We know there are lots of people there who want to see the answer to all these questions. We will surely explain to you the answer in detail, but for this, you have to read the below article first.

Penguin getting themselves warm

Penguin getting themselves warm

How Do the Penguins Keep their Body Warm?

It is essential for the penguins to keep their body warm for their survival and for remaining active for the whole time. The body of the penguins has a thick layer of skin along with several blubber or fat below the skin that helps them in keeping themselves warm in the chilling and life-threatening cold weather.

Penguins also remain in the group collectively to stay warm. The species of the penguins like Emperor penguins have established a social behavior during the cold weather. They usually huddle jointly in crowds that might consist of numerous thousand penguins.

What Part of Penguin Feathers Helps in Keeping Them Warm?

The feathers of the penguin are dark colored at the back surface which absorbs hotness from the sun, thus helping them to stay warm also.

The Penguins have firmly crammed feathers overlay to offer warmth and waterproofing. They cover their feathers with gland lubricant nearby the tail to upsurge waterproofness. Waterproofing is perilous to penguins’ existence inside the water. You will be shocked to know that the Antarctic oceans might be as icy as -2.2°C (28°F) and hardly get beyond +2°C (35.6°F). The freezing point of the sea water is -2°C.

The warm-blooded animals that live in the colder regions have, the larger body size. The smallest penguin in Antarctica is relatively weighty around 5.5lb. The Adelie and Emperor penguins possess 11 lb, and Emperor penguin maintains 66 lb weight which equals the mass of an overweight ten years old kid. The birds that have larger area have the smaller surface area which means they have lots of space to lose the heat.

What is a Role of the Fatty Layer in Keeping Penguins Warm?

The fatty layer of the penguin saves them from the cold weather near the ocean. While staying on the land, the feathers of the birds accomplish the purpose of keeping their body warm. Their feathers are not significant in size like the flying birds, but they do have below-layer of adequate woolly down. The fat layer makes all the warm-blooded, cold water animals working in the temperature of minus 1.9°C (25.8°F) at which the sea-water freezes.

Penguins staying warm in group

Penguins staying warm in group

During the cold climate, penguins can wisp the feathers out for trapping additional air for smooth and improved insulation. At the time of hot weather, they bungle their feathers out for trapping the warm air from escaping and enabling the penguin to become chilly. These birds have the maximum thickness of feathers for every unit of surface area in comparison to any birds.

Is There Anything that Stops the Penguins From Staying Warm?

Two parts of the penguin make their body poorly insulated and, i.e., feet and flippers. These parts lose a lot of heat, but it is a useful thing for cooling down.

The muscles which help in the functioning of the flippers and feet not situated in the fins and feet, however deeper inside the warmer areas of the body. These body parts are moved by ligaments which traverse them and stick to the bones of ankle, toes, and wrist. It does not matter if flippers and feet get extremely cold because they might be functioned usually by muscles in areas which exist at regular body temperature as well as so still completely useful.

The Penguins possess a warmth-exchange blood-movement to these areas named as “Rete Mirabile.” The hot blood arriving in the feet runs earlier than the cold blood so that the birds can stay warm along with the cooling of blood coming at a similar period. The same process is to follow inside the flippers. Blood inside the fins and feet is retained considerably colder in comparison to the other body parts of the penguin. As soon as the blood re-arrives the entire body, it becomes warm and thus does not provide a significant effect on the central body temperature.

The feet of the penguins never get lower than the freezing point as the flow of blood flow is excellently adjusted to keep them warm. During the extreme cold weather, the feet get enclosed with the feathers as well as a heavy coating of the body to keep them safe from the icy winds. It does not let the feet of the penguins to get damaged at all.

During the low temperatures inside the ocean, the flow of blood to the flippers and sea is quite low for decreasing the loss of heat. As soon as the penguin requires losing heat rapidly, the warm blood moves to these boundaries in large quantities that cool quickly before removing the extra heat fast and powerfully.

Which Additional Things Penguin Does for Keeping Them Warm?

Besides the role of body parts in keeping the penguin warm, there are few things that penguins do for keeping them warm for a long time:

  • The penguins do not stand over their tip-toes during the cold climate. They rock towards the back on their heels, grasping their toes upwards. They support their body with the rigid tail downs which don’t have blood flow and thus lose no heat.
  • They hang around in the groups and gangs for surviving in the extreme cold weather. The emperor penguins have a social behavior during the cold times, and they group in crowds which might consist of numerous thousand penguins. They provide a shield to each other from the chilly wind and keep on changing the rows so that the outer penguin can get in the inner row.
  • The penguins tick their flippers inside the body for retaining the heat, and it all decreases the surface area accessible to heat loss. With the help of shivering, they also produce extra heat.
  • Emperor penguins species could recollect around 80% of heat evading from their breath owing to a multifaceted heat exchange structure in their nasal channels.

Final Word!

It is not an easy thing to survive in the cold climate of the Antarctica region, but the penguins do so. The body parts of the penguins help them in bearing the cold and icy weather. They also perform specific activities that help them in staying warm.

We hope that after reading the above article, you now know that how do penguins stay warm. Penguins are not only beautiful creatures but also have a brave heart to survive in such weather conditions where humans can’t step out for a minute without any help.

Please share your views and thoughts about the above article. We would love to hear from you in the below 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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