Mothers are truly a blessing as the mother’s love is unconditional and has no parallel. The same is the case with penguins, in fact, penguins are the most loving, caring, and doting parents but how do penguins take care of their babies?
When it comes to parenting, both the father and mother care extensively for their little ones. Among all species of penguins, the best parenting award goes to Male Emperor Penguin for looking after its egg.
How Male Penguins Take Care Of Their Babies?
When the female penguin lays an egg, she goes to the sea to feed for nearly two months. In the meantime, the male penguin protects the egg under his furry pouch, also known as a brood pouch within his feet under his belly, until the mother penguin returns.
The male penguins often stick together in groups to stay warm as the temperature in Antarctica drops as low as – 40 degrees C. Also, the male penguin does not eat food until the egg hatches as he survives solely on body fat accumulated in the past summer.
Penguins usually go hunting in summers to accumulate fat so that they can feed their chicks in the upcoming winters. Then he feeds the chick until the female penguin returns. Afterward, the male penguin goes out to the sea to feed for about three to four weeks. This shows how concerned penguins are when it comes to caring for their babies. Witnessing this parental love is truly a magnificent sight to see.
How Do Penguins Feed Their Babies?
Penguins don’t feed in a regular way; most birds do but have multiple ways to feed their chicks. Penguins usually eat fishes, skrill, and squid, which they hunt from the sea or get from the underside of the ice, and this is what they feed to their babies.
The penguins consume the whole food with the help of sharp pointy bills on their mouth and tongue as they don’t have teeth, which they, later on, feed their babies in three ways.
First is by regurgitating the food in which the penguin semi-digests the food which it puts in the chick’s beak as the chick cannot digest the food on its own. This process usually takes several hours.
The second is by refrigerating the food in which the penguin swallows the whole food, such as a fish in its stomach. The penguin has special enzymes in its stomach which prevent the food from being spoiled that is later fed to the baby penguin. The food is kept warm by the penguin’s body temperature.
The third way is through creating a mixture of food which is also known as crop milk. When the penguin eats a krill or a fish, the nutrients such as proteins and fats are secreted from the food in the form of milk similar to mammal milk that is fed to the chicks.
How are Baby Penguins Different From Their Parents?
Baby penguins are quite different from their parents in their physical traits. The chicks have different colors such as white, grey, brown, and varied sizes depending on the species of penguins.
The most adorable baby penguin is the one of Emperor Penguins that has a grey furry coat to protect it from the harsh weather of Antarctica. All baby penguins have fluffy feathers to protect them from extreme cold.
The babies tend to stick to their parents as they can’t go near the sea since they have fine down feathers that are not waterproof.
When the baby penguin grows, it develops a thick and protective coat of feathers that keeps it dry. When the chicks mature, they develop a standard black and white coat to camouflage themselves from the predators. All adult penguins have the same black and white color.
How Long Do Penguins Stay With Their Parents?
Baby penguins tend to stay with their parents for several months, depending on the species. The chick of Adelie penguins stays for about nine weeks, whereas the chick of Emperor penguin stays for up to thirteen months. The duration depends on the time the baby penguin develops its waterproof feathers.
Once the chick has its own waterproof feathers, it has grown in size and can’t stay glued to its parents, so it goes off to hunt with other fellow chicks under the supervision of an adult penguin. Since chicks are still on the target of predators, they can’t wander off alone. Once the chick reaches an adult stage, the penguin becomes independent of its parents and hunts on its own.
How Many Babies Do Penguins Have In a Lifetime?
Penguins usually lay one to three eggs to increase the probability of survival. The size and color of the eggs vary between different species of penguins. The Emperor Penguin is the one and only species of penguins to lay a single egg.
In contrast, other species of penguins, the Galapagos penguin, and the Little penguin lay one to three eggs which are looked after and incubated by both male and female penguins.
In the case of Emperor penguins, the female penguin leaves the egg with the male penguin to take care of it by incubating the egg under his furry pouch, also known as brood pouch, while she goes off to hunt for almost two weeks.
The breeding season of penguins varies among different species of penguins, with most of them having an annual breeding time in the warmer season from spring to summer. The Emperor penguin has a breeding time of sixteen months. When penguins reach maturity at the age of eight years old, it is ready to breed.
The way how penguins take care of their babies is beyond astonishing. From feeding to protecting, both male and female penguins demonstrate unconditional love making them a symbol of parental love. Not only that, their immense unity and sociability show how faithful these birds are. They are truly a lesson for us human beings to look after and take care of our children as penguins do.