What Eats Penguins? 4 Penguin Predators (Animal Answers)

In this guide, we’ll answer the question:

“What eats penguins?”

First, you’ll find a short summary of what animals eat penguins in the ocean and on land and then get a detailed list of penguin predators.

Penguins are a group of aquatic flightless birds in the family Spheniscidae under the order Sphenisciformes. These birds live almost exclusively in the southern hemisphere with only one species (Galápagos penguin) found north of the Equator. The greatest concentrations are on the Antarctic coasts and sub-Antarctic islands.

Penguins spend half their life in the sea and the other half on land.

The average lifespan of a penguin is between 6 to 30 years depending on the species.

What eats penguins
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What Eats Penguins?

Animals that eat penguins include fur seals, leopard seals, killer whales, and sea lions. Penguins are aquatic birds with very few natural enemies in the ocean.

Penguin Predators

Fur Seals

Antarctic fur seals are a carnivorous marine mammal that eats penguins both large and small.

According to The Natural History Museum of London, “[Seals have] specially shaped whiskers [that] can detect the disturbances left by other creatures moving through the water, even while they are moving themselves.” Fur seals can also swallow smaller prey whole, like penguin chicks, underwater or on land.

Another method fur seals use to kill penguins is shaking them violently until the bird breaks into more manageable pieces.

Leopard Seals

Leopard seals are common penguin predators that will hunt these aquatic birds in the water and on ice.

Leopard seals primarily hunt penguins by hiding underneath the surface of the water and attacking these birds when they least suspect it.

Killer Whales

While most whales do not hunt penguins, killer whales (also known as orcas) are the exception for these types of animals that eat penguins. Killer whales are top-level predators in the ocean and are

In an article by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment about the diet of killer whales, it states: “Antarctic small type B killer whales have been observed hunting penguins like these Adélies.” And scientists have discovered that “orcas seem to be particularly choosy about which bits of the penguins they eat; being inclined to take only the best cuts of penguin breast meat,” as reported in BBC Earth News.

Sea Lions

Sea lions are another marine mammal that feeds on penguins. Attacks have been observed by biologists while penguins are swimming at sea and while resting on land.

What Do Penguins Eat?

Penguins are also predators that must prey on other animals to survive.

You can visit our other guide on what do penguins eat to find out more about what these birds feed on for nutrition.

Penguin predators

Animals That Eat Penguins Summary

You now know what eats penguins in the wild and which species are the top penguin predators.

As you discovered in this guide, there are about 4 marine animals that eat penguins in the ocean, on land, and on ice.