What do Penguins Feel Like?

Penguins are adorable flightless birds. There are a total of 17 species of living penguins in the wild. Penguins are often mistaken to have fur over their body which is because of the short feathers. As many of us think, penguins’ feathers are not as soft as we think.

The black and white camouflage body is common in all the species of penguins. The plumages of penguins are strong and stiff since it has to be waterproof. We cannot expect a soft touch when we try to feel the penguins.

Even though penguins are cuddly and cute, they are experts in hunting underwater. The brush-like the tail of the penguins is stiff and spiky. Penguins do poke humans when they are at the scope and when they are mistakenly near the nest.

Cuddly emperor penguins in Antarctica

Cuddly emperor penguins in Antarctica

It will hurt when penguins poke with their bill, but there are no casualties recorded till date where penguins attacked humans. Although the adult penguins have strong feathers, the baby penguins have soft fur like tiny feathers.

Touching the baby penguins is soft. Unfortunately, there is a limited chance to touch and feel one. When we touch the adult penguin, we will feel a sleek touch when rubbed downwards. When rubbed upwards, we might feel the rough and prickly sensation due to the feathers that are facing downwards.

The body of the penguins will be slippery and solid to hug and pet. Penguins that are in the captivity or zoos can be less human feared and can be friendly. Penguins that are in the wild can feel human as a threat or also might have a curiosity to come close but they nowhere like a human to grab and pet them.

But, there are chances in zoos that conduct shows with penguins can let you have a quick hug after sanitizing yourself before touching one. This opportunity is possible only if you are extremely lucky enough on that particular day.

Soft chicks:

Penguin chicks are quite soft when compared to the adult penguins. They have baby hair like fur a little thicker than that around the body. Still, they are waterproof the chicks do not go into the water for hunting until they are fully developed to survive alone and to succeed in the crèche.

The adolescent penguins are scruffy when they shed out their brown feathers. Every penguin has to undergo the stage called molting. In this stage, the chicks transform into adult penguins by growing the new plumages that are thick and waterproof.

The brown plumage before molting will be soft, and it moves when there is a harsh wind. The color of the feathers before molting can change from species to species.

Some species of penguin chicks may have grey plumage, and some may have brown plumage. The tiny feathers in the bottom of the leg may be less when compared to the other parts of the body.

King penguin and chicks

King penguin and chicks


Penguins’ flippers are scaly and tough. The tapered shaped flippers are not soft to touch. Flippers of the penguins do have feathers that are small strong and densely packed around all the sides.

The upper part of the flipper is the same as the upper body color which is black, and the front side of the flipper is white. When human tend to touch or catch the penguin in zoos, they wiggle along with the flippers.

When the penguins wiggle the flippers, it might be a little hard on you when you try to feel it.

Penguins’ body stinks like a dead fish, and if you ever want to be near the penguins, you should be tolerable enough with the smell — Penguins nest in guanos when they are in the wild, and they always stay in the ocean for a maximum of their lifetime which is why they stink.

Gentoo penguins scaly and shiny feathers visible while swimming

Gentoo penguins scaly and shiny feathers visible while swimming

If you are to Antarctica in an expedition, you can find emperor penguins and chicks waddling around. Sometime, if you are lucky, you may also get a few chicks climbing on you when you sit on the ground. In none of the cases, you are supposed to touch the penguins and their chicks.

The toughness and softness also depend on species to species. Emperor, king, Adelie and Gentoo penguins can be tougher and heavier than other penguins. Usually, penguins that are in the true Antarctic regions are heavier with thick feathers.

Penguins like a little penguin and African penguin have softer feathers and are lightweight. Since emperor penguins are the colossal living penguins; it is really hard for one to hold and feel or pet them. They have relatively strong plumages and strong muscles when compared to other species of living penguins.


Penguins are not entirely rough but, the waterproof plumages are strong which are responsible for the scaly texture. The waterproof feathers have oil in it and thus offer a shiny look. Penguins are not naturally affectionate creatures; we cannot pet them.

Penguins are marine birds that are flightless and are modest and humble most of the time. But, they are not as cozy as they look to feel them like holding a soft pillow. Penguins, when petted, bring you a feeling of hugging a solid bag with scales that are neither rough nor soft.


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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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