Penguins are some of the most adorable creatures in the animal kingdom, but with 18 different species spanning the southern hemisphere, their physical characteristics can vary greatly. So, just how big are penguins?
The size of a penguin varies depending upon the species. The average height ranged from 40cm (16 inches) to 115cm (45 inches) and the average weight ranges from 1kg (2.5lbs to 37kg (82lbs). The smallest penguin is the Little Penguin (eudyptula minor) and the largest penguin is the Emperor Penguin (aptenodytes forsteri).
Keep reading for a full breakdown of the height and weight of different penguin species as well as the biggest penguins on record. You can also see our full article with 21 penguin facts to learn more about these magnificent animals.
- How Tall Are Penguins?
- How Tall Are Emperor Penguins?
- How Much Do Penguins Weigh?
- How Much Does a Baby Penguin Weigh?
- How Big is the Biggest Penguin on Record?
- How Big Are Emperor Penguins?
- How Strong is the Average Penguin?
- How Big Are Penguin Eggs?
- Related Questions
How Tall Are Penguins?
The height of a penguin varies between species from 40cm (16 inches) to 115cm (45 inches). The average height of a penguin across all species is around 72cm (28.5 inches).
The below table shows the heights of the main species of penguins measured to the tip of their beak.
|Penguin Species||Height (cm)||Height (inches)|
|Emperor Penguin||115 cm||45"|
|King Penguin||95 cm||37"|
|Gentoo Penguin||81 cm||32"|
|Royal Penguin||76 cm||30"|
|Yellow-eyed Penguin||76 cm||30"|
|Adelie Penguin||71 cm||28"|
|Fiordland Penguin||71 cm||28"|
|Magellanic Penguin||70 cm||27"|
|Macaroni Penguin||70 cm||27"|
|African Penguin||70 cm||27"|
|Humboldt Penguin||68 cm||27"|
|Chinstrap Penguin||68 cm||27"|
|Northern Rockhopper Penguin||55 cm||21"|
|Southern Rockhopper Penguin||55 cm||21"|
|Galapagos Penguin||50 cm||19"|
|Little Penguin||40 cm||16"|
How Tall Are Emperor Penguins?
Emperor Penguins are the tallest penguins with an average height of 115cm (45 inches) to the tip of their beak or 110cm (43 inches) to the top of their head1 (source: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds: The Definitive Reference to Birds of the World, C. M. Perrins).
By comparison, the average male in the United States is 175.4cm (69 inches)2 (source: Healthline) which means that an Emperor Penguin is around 63% of the height of a US male.
How Much Do Penguins Weigh?
The weight of a penguin will vary by species from just 1kg (2.5lbs) for the Little Penguin up to 37kg (82lbs) for Emperor Penguins.
The below table shows the average weight of adult penguins among 6 different species.
|Penguin Species||Weight (kg)||Weight (lbs)||Weight Source|
|Emperor Penguin||Up to 37kg||Up to 82lbs||Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide|
|Royal Penguin||13.5kg||30lbs||Australian Government|
|Macaroni Penguin||3.5-6.5kg||7.75-14lbs||Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide|
|Yellow-eyed Penguin||Up to 6kg||Up to 3lbs||Seaworld|
|Adelie Penguin||4-5.5kg||8.75-12lbs||Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide|
|Humboldt Penguin||4.5-5kg||10-11lbs||Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide|
|Chinstrap Penguin||3-4.5kg||6.5-10lbs||Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide|
|African Penguin||Up to 3kg||Up to 7lbs||Seaworld|
|Galapagos Penguin||Up to 2.5kg||Up to 5.5lbs||Seaworld|
|Little Penguin||1kg||2.25lbs||Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide|
How Much Does a Baby Penguin Weigh?
The weight of a baby penguin varies from 35g (1oz) for a Little Penguin up to 400g (14oz) for an Emperor Penguin3 (source: Dynasties: The Rise and Fall of Animal Families, S. Moss, 2018).
Once hatched, an Emperor Penguin chick will nearly double in size every two weeks provided the mother provides an adequate food supply.
How Big is the Biggest Penguin on Record?
Although Emperor Penguins are the largest penguin species in the modern world, a fossil of the extinct penguin, palaeeudyptes klekowskii, reveals that it was 2m long (over 6f t6ins tall!) and weighed 115kg making it the largest ever penguin4 (source: New Scientist).
The size estimates are based on parts of a wing and foot bone discovered on a small island off the Antarctic Peninsular called Seymour Island where the species existed 37-40 million years ago. Experts have suggested as seen by archeological evidence that it had very different proportions to modern-day penguins.
How Big Are Emperor Penguins?
Emperor Penguins are the largest penguin with an average height to their beak of 115cm (45 inches) and a weight up to 37kg (82lbs). However, their weight will vary through its breeding cycle.
From courtship to the hatching of the egg, the male will undergo a 110 day fast during which it can lose up to 45% of its body weight5 (source: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds: The Definitive Reference to Birds of the World, C. M. Perrins).
Despite being so big, Emperor Penguins can dive to 500m and hold their breath for 23 minutes. By comparison, the record dive for a human with a scuba tank is 332.35 m (1,090 ft 4.5 in)6 (source: Guinness World Records).
How Strong is the Average Penguin?
Penguins are birds, but they aren’t like your typical bird. Aside from losing the ability to fly, they have evolved other traits that make them unique too.
Penguins are one of the strongest birds with thick bones, large muscles, and a high wing strength relative to their body mass.
This is because they have evolved to be excellent swimmers rather than being able to fly like most other species of bird. Since water is denser than air, they have developed greater strength than other birds without making any compromises for flying7 (source: M. Habib, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Vol 99, Issue 4, 2010).
Whereas most flying birds have lightweight bones and humans have bone marrow inside their bones, penguins have bones that are solid all the way through. This makes them heavy and helps penguins when diving. Penguins also have strong shoulder muscles and a large chest which help propel them through the water.
How Big Are Penguin Eggs?
The size of a penguin’s eggs will vary by species from 5.5cm long for a Little Penguin up to 12cm (5 inches) long for an Emperor Penguin.
Like most penguins, the Little Penguin lays two eggs, typically laid around 3 days apart. The first egg is 5.6 x 4.2cm and weighs 5.4g whereas the second egg is generally shorter and broader than the first but without any difference in weight8 (source: A. Kemp & P. Dann, EMU, Vol 101, 2001).
Emperor Penguins have the largest eggs which is no surprise given that they are the largest penguins. However, they are the only species to lay just one egg at a time. Emperor Penguin eggs are 12 x 8cm (5 x 3 inches) and weigh around 460g (16oz)9 (source: Dynasties: The Rise and Fall of Animal Families, S. Moss, 2018).
Although the Emperor Penguin’s egg is large by bird standards, it only represents 2% of the female’s body weight which makes it one of the smallest bird eggs in the world relative to the bird, beaten only by the Ostrich10 (source: Dynasties: The Rise and Fall of Animal Families, S. Moss, 2018).
By comparison, a typical large chicken egg in the US is 56.8g (2oz)11 (source: Wikipedia) so a penguin egg is about eight times larger.
An interesting fact about penguin eggs is that they are clear when they are boiled, see our article about the color of penguins and their eggs to find out why.
What is the Tallest Penguin?
The tallest penguin is the Emperor Penguin which is 110cm to the top of their head or 115cm to the tip of their beak.
How Tall Are Emperor Penguins in Feet?
An Emperor Penguin is about 3 feet and 7 inches to the top of its head. They are the largest penguin species currently in existence.
How Much Do Penguins Weigh in Pounds?
Penguins weigh between 2.5lbs for the smallest species, the Little Penguin, up to 82lbs for the largest species, the Emperor Penguin.