By Scott A. Rowan
Do penguins ever get too hot?
Yes, even though they live on and in the waters around Antarctica, penguins often overheat. Penguins are so good at staying warm that they have to use many methods to cool down.
Much like dogs, who are not able to sweat and pant to ease overheating, penguins pant to release warm air. That is only one method penguins use to cool off. Taking a swim in the cold water obviously helps, but there are many times – like during molting and breeding seasons – when going for a swim isn’t possible.
During those periods of time, penguins will pant to release heat as well as ruffle their feathers to release the warm air trapped in their feathers. They will also raise their flippers, exposing more of them to the air. Their flippers have capillaries close to the surface, allowing heat to quickly release. In fact, the flippers will often turn shades of pink from the amount of heat being released.
Penguins that live in warmer areas, such as Galapagos Penguins (Spheniscus mendiculus), have less body fat and their down isn’t as thick as their cousins who live on ice, so they have special body parts. Tropical penguins have bare patches in their feathers that expose their flesh to quickly release heat. These heat-release areas are located around their eyes, beak, under the flippers, and soles of their feet. To release heat the quickest, some penguins will lay on their belly to expose the soles of their feet to increase the amount of bare flesh exposed to the air.
Brennan, Patricia. Penguins and Other Flightless Birds. Chicago, IL: World Book, Inc, 2002.
Daigle, Evelyne. The World of Penguins. New York, NY: Tundra Books, 2007.
Simon, Seymour. Penguins. New York, NY: Collins, 2007.
SLJ Staff. “And Tango Makes Three’ Tops Most Challenged List, Again.” School Library Journal. April 12, 2011. Accessed: January 30, 2013.
“Stamps Showing Emperor Penguin Aptenodyte forsteri.” Theme Birds. Accessed: January 30, 2013.
Stefoff, Rebecca. Penguins. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2005.
Walsh, Michael. “Scientists Solve the Mystery of Penguins’ Incredibly Fast Underwater Swimming Speed: A Secret Layer of Bubbles.” Daily News. October 20, 2012. Accessed: January 19, 2013.
#penguins #birds #canpenguinsfly #CGW #coolgrossweird #besurprised #flocked