How do penguins defend themselves?


By Scott A. Rowan

How do penguins defend themselves?

Without any fangs, claws, or sheer bite force to defend themselves, penguins prefer to avoid conflict rather than enter it.

Penguins cooperate with each other to share information about possible threats to avoid an attack. By huddling together, they make it difficult for a predator to pick out an individual to attack. Likewise, by being so closely packed it is easy to vocally communicate about an attack with the other penguins.

Many penguins will flee a land attack by jumping into the water where they are very agile. Unfortunately, if any leopard seals, sharks or killer whales are present the penguins will have run into an even bigger problem. Even though penguins are great swimmers, leopard seals, sharks, and killer whales are better.

When attacked by flying birds, adult penguins will defend their eggs or chick. Adults will try to intimidate the attacker by flapping their wings and making menacing beak gestures. If the predator overwhelms the adult penguin, the adult will flee, leaving the chick or egg for the predator bird.

An adult penguin can have another chick, but a dead adult penguin cannot breed again. Penguins instinctually are forced to leave behind offspring or eggs with the hope of returning again next year or the year after.


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