Why do penguins huddle together to keep warm?


Quick Answer

Penguins huddle together to keep warm as a way to shield their bodies from the full force of the cold weather experienced in Antarctica. While huddled, penguins exchange positions so that every colony member takes a turn at forming the outer perimeter, where exposure to the cold is greatest.

Continue Reading

Full Answer

Penguins, in general, are well-suited for cold weather extremes with their array of dense, thin feathers that cover their bodies and provide ample insulation. By huddling tightly together, colonies of penguins can form a protective barrier whose only weakness is at the perimeter, where the cold has the greatest effect.

There are 17 species of penguins, but only four breed on Antarctica. These include the Adelie, Emperor, Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins. All four species exhibit the huddling behavior to keep warm on the Antarctic ice.

Size is an important advantage that the Adelie, Emperor, Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins have over the 13 other species. The larger size allows a greater surface area with which to shield their bodies from the extreme cold experienced in Antarctica. This also means that individual penguins can stand at the perimeter of the huddle for longer, which allows the next rotation of penguins more time to build up their body temperatures before going back out on the line.

Learn more about Penguins

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What do penguins eat?

    A: Penguins generally eat fish, squid and krill, though their diet depends on the species. Generally, penguins living close to the equator eat more fish, whil... Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do penguins move?

    A: Penguins move by shuffling their feet from side to side when on land and by using their flippers, tails and a bubble mechanism to swim in the water. The sp... Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why do penguins waddle?

    A: Penguins waddle because it is the most efficient way for them to move around on dry land. With short legs and big feet, waddling allows penguins to propel ... Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do penguins mate?

    A: Penguins mate differently depending on the breed, but all penguins mate by following courtship rituals that use their senses of sight and sound as well as ... Full Answer >
    Filed Under: