Ask A Researcher

Do you have questions about Adelie Penguins? Search this list of previously asked questions by students and adults from all over the world.

Diet and Feeding
How do penguins catch their food while they are swimming and do they have teeth

Adélie Penguins do not have teeth but the edges of their beak are VERY sharp. Their mouth and tongues are lined with stiff spines that point backward, down the throat. This prevents fish and squid from squirming loose, and helps them swallow the live prey (krill, fish, and squid). The prey often are caught under ice floes where they are hiding as well as feeding on diatoms that grow on the underside and within the ice. Penguins swim under the ice catching the prey, one at a time, in their bills and swallowing them whole.

If there is no fresh liquid water in Antarctica, how can Adélie Penguins drink the salt water of the ocean?

Adélie Penguins, like all seabirds, have glands under their eyes that secret excess salt from their bodies. The salty secretion drips off the tip of their bill. They can drink salt water without ill effects. They also, however, eat lots of snow, which is fresh water.

How do you feed them?

We don’t feed penguins. Except in zoos, they only eat the food that they catch.

Do any animals have the Adelie penguin as a predators?

Adelie Penguins eat small fish, krill and squid. From their point of view the penguin is a predator.

How do they sleep or do they hunt at night? Do they hunt in the morning or do they hunt in the evening? (Courtney, PA)

It is 24 hours of daylight now so there is no night for the penguins. They can not see in the dark so during the winter they must forage for food during the few daylight hours. They sleep when they can.

Do penguins eat anything but fish? (Miley, PA)

They eat krill and squid as well as fish.

How many pounds of food do penguins eat a day? (Whitni, IL)

During the summer, when working hard, they consume about 0.9 kg, which is about 2 pounds. During the winter, when they’re taking it easy they eat one third of that.

What do penguins eat the least? (Abby, IL)

The east less squid than eat fish or krill.

Why do penguins eat krill?(Alexis, WI)

Krill is abundant and easy to catch.

Do penguins eat all the time? (Jessica, WI)

When Adelie penguins are on their nest sometimes for days at a time, they do not eat, instead they live off the fat layers that have formed from lots of previous eating.

I would like to know how much fish a penguin eats in a year. (Liam, CT)

They eat about 0.9 kg per day. So, multiply 0.9 times 365 days to get the answer.