What are Penguins Feet Called?

Penguins belong to the class of birds which are flightless. Generally, forelimbs of the birds are in the form of wings, but in the case of penguins it is flippers, but they have feet like regular swimming birds like swans, ducks, etc.,

Yes, the penguins have webbed feet with visible claws (curved pointed horny nail present on each unit of the foot in birds). They don’t have any particular term for their feet, just called ‘feet’ as common waterfowl (aquatic birds). They have short and strong legs. The legs of the penguins are set far back on the body to help them to stand vertically straight and upright position as well as steering while swimming.

Usually, bird’s feet are made up of tight tendons and bones, but they don’t have many nerves, blood vessels, and muscles. Penguins’ feet muscles are lied comfortably into their bodies by protecting them from the cold. Penguin’s feet help the body to maintain a steady temperature by letting the heat escape.

Penguins maintain a body temperature just a few degrees above freezing because the arteries present in the legs can adjust the flow of blood against the foot temperature.

Why do penguins have webbed feet?

Webbed penguins feet
Webbed penguins feet

Webbed feet – it is characterized by the fusion of two or more digits of the feet. Birds like swans and ducks, amphibians like frogs, reptiles like crocodiles, and mammals like kangaroos are some of the examples for having webbed feet.

As said above, penguins have webbed feet with short and strong legs. Webbed feet made them powerful and perfect swimmers, and also help in steering underwater.

They can reduce drag in water using their streamlined bodies. Penguin flippers also help them to swim at a speed of 15 mph underwater. They don’t have any feathers or fat in their feet. On land they use webbed feet for walking, sometimes they slide over the ground using flippers and belly. Depending on different classes they have colored feet like pink, orange, black, etc.,

Example Images: Gentoo Penguin Feet, Rockhopper Penguin Feet, and African Penguin Feet

Why do penguins’ feet not get cold?

penguins feet
penguins feet

Penguins are highly adaptive to cold climate; we may have the question- don’t do their feet freeze. Every bird or warm-blooded animal body has a system that cools the blood as it passes down, so the blood in the feet cools down it results in less loss of heat from the body. Thus, it can maintain a steady temperature.

Penguins body is made up of thick layers of fat and feathers, as well as they are waterproof plumage. Penguins never allow their feet to get a freeze when the temperature exceeds its freezing point they don’t expose their feet to winds. They cover them from the feathers and fat layers. To remain active, penguins have to maintain high body temperature, and blood flow helps them to maintain temperature always above freezing point.

The process they undergo by comforting themselves in the freeze is ‘countercurrent heat exchange’- It is a process of saving energy in organisms by using the parallel pipes of flowing fluid in opposite directions. Yes, this method occurs in feet of penguins; the heat from the blood supply to the feet is transfer to veins that are next to arteries.


We can conclude that penguins don’t have any particular term for its feet; it is just called ‘feet’. Webbed feet help them for swimming and walking on land. The body system helps the penguins to survive in the freezing temperature. Although fat and feathers are not present on the feet, which comforts the penguins with the help of blood flow.




Why Penguins’ Feet Don’t Freeze

Image Source:

  1. Webbed penguins feet by Bernard Spragg. NZ / CC BY
  2. penguins feet by vonguard / CC BY


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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