What Do Penguins Eat? (Penguin Diet and Favorite Food)

In this article, we’ll answer the question:

“What do penguins eat?”

First, you’ll find a short summary of what penguins eat in nature, then get a list of a penguin’s favorite foods that make up a typical penguin diet. And finally, answers to common questions about penguin feeding habits and nutrition.

Penguins are a group of aquatic flightless birds in the family Spheniscidae under the order Sphenisciformes in the class Aves and phylum Chordata. Penguins live almost exclusively in the southern hemisphere with only one species found north of the Equator (Galápagos penguin).

What do penguins eat
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What Do Penguins Eat?

Penguins eat krill, squids, and fish because they are carnivorous animals. Penguins also eat plankton and have varying diets to reduce competition for food. A penguin’s diet is determined by the availability of prey in its habitat.

Penguin Diet (Favorite Foods)

  • Krill
  • Squids
  • Fishes
  • Plankton

How Often Does a Penguin Eat?

A penguin often eats multiple times a day, depending on its energy demands. A penguin’s feeding frequency is high during summer because of increased activity. Excess feeding helps penguins prepare for winter, where they rely on food stored under their skin as fats.

How Much Do Penguins Eat Per Day?

Adult penguins eat about 2-3 kg per day, but the food consumption rate can double when preparing for winter. Penguins’ daily food intake can also increase when taking care of their chicks and during summer, a penguin will eat around 2 pounds of food per day.

How Long Can Penguins Live Without Food?

Penguins can live up to 110 days without food during the breeding season and will leave the eggs until they are hatched.

According to WWF-UK, “Male emperor penguins will not eat for up to four months, from the time they arrive at the colony to breed until the egg has hatched and the mother returns to feed. They lose almost half of their body weight during this time. They need to rely entirely on the reserve of body fat that they built up during the summer feast to survive the long winter.”

Do Penguins Eat Meat?

Penguins do eat meat because they are carnivores. A penguin’s diet is limited to meat because its body is not designed to digest plant-based foods, and meat is the source of fat and energy requirements.

Do Penguins Eat Fruit?

Penguins do not eat fruit and only eat other animals. As exclusive carnivores, a penguin’s taste buds lack sweet receptors; hence, they cannot enjoy fruits.

According to this BBC article, “Penguins can taste only sour and salty food, scientists have discovered. A genetic study suggests the flightless birds lost three of the five basic tastes long ago in evolution.”

Do Penguins Eat Plankton?

Penguins do plankton for nutrition and supplement their diet with various small marine invertebrates and even cephalopods.

What Animals Eat Penguins?

Penguins are prey to a few different species.

You can visit our other guide on what animals eat penguins to find out which predators actively feed on these mammals.

Penguin diet

Penguin Eating Habits and Diet Summary

You now know what do penguins eat in the wild as well as the typical food in a penguin’s diet.

As you discovered in this guide, penguins are carnivores that prey on various species for nutrition with a penguin’s favorite food being things like krill, squid, and fish.