Can Penguins Be Dangerous? (Answered)

by Chukay Alex
Updated on

Penguins are considered the most adorable birds in the marine environment.

Generally, they are not dangerous to humans, but at some point, they can be, depending on the situation at hand.

Penguins are regarded as part of the fish and bird family.

However, due to their ability to swim exceptionally, they gradually lost their ability to fly, and now, they are known as flightless birds.

Most penguins can be found in the Southern Hemisphere, hence, having little or no interactions with humans.

The concept of penguins being dangerous is quite fascinating and that is why I have made researches regarding this.

Read on!

Can Penguins Be Aggressive?

Can Penguins Be Dangerous

Yes, penguins can be aggressive. Depending on the situation and necessity at hand, penguins can display an aggressive behavior to their counterparts and predators.

When threatened, in fear, they often tend to show their aggressive side in order to defend themselves.

Also, when penguins notice a human approaching their nesting sites, they become aggressive as well.

I will advise you to keep your legs safe from being bitten by these birds.

Penguins display aggressiveness by using their strong bill to fight. Usually, if care is not taken, the counterparts would end up with a painful big bite from these birds.

Another noticeable aggressive behavior in penguins is slapping very hard with their wings. Yes, you read that right!

Can You Touch a Penguin?

You can touch a penguin in the same gentle way you touch a peculiar bird. Simply fluff its feathers.

However, PenguinsInternational reported that it is not advisable to touch a penguin.

On checking recommendations to see penguins in the wild, it is common to see a guided tour strictly instructing you not to touch penguins.

Asides protecting you from the aggressive behavior these adorable birds might display, you are also protecting the birds as well. Here’s why;

In 2018, a research was carried out and it revealed that touching penguins might transmit bacteria from you to them in a ‘reverse zoonosis’ .

I am definitely sure you would not like to see these adorable birds sick of course!

ScienceMag further described why it is not advisable to touch a penguin.

Therefore, I would say you can touch a penguin, but I would not advise you to touch a penguin for your benefit and its benefit too.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on how do penguins stay warm

What is The Most Dangerous Penguin?

Just like every other birds, there are different species of penguins, ranging from Gentoo, Rockhopper, Emperor, Tourist and Kings, Adelie, Macaroni, all the way past several other species down to Chinstrap penguins.

Of all these, the most dangerous penguins are the crested penguins, like Chinstrap and Rockhopper penguins.

These species of penguins are very aggressive.

When they sense a predator or a counterpart approaching, they get ready to have a very big bite with their strong bill, smack hard with their wings and then, pursue the opponent away from their territory.

Can Penguins Attack Humans?

The answer is yes. Penguins can attack humans

Naturally, penguins are friendly and adorable birds.They are sociable too and they can be seen hanging out in groups.

Considering where they live and the kinds of predators they have, mostly giant sea birds or other aquatic mammals, they are not really used to seeing humans about.

In actual sense, a penguin would be fascinated and confused on seeing a human in the wild where they live so they are not likely to attack.

It is even possible for you to find some penguins coming to look at you in a curious way.

However, the only rare case when they are likely to attack humans is when they sense danger, especially for their young ones. They are very protective of their babies.

When you near a penguin’s nesting site, it is definitely sure for you to get attacked by a penguin.

You should get ready to be pecked at, or bitten and smacked by by the penguin’s wings.

This would hurt of course! Penguins beak are usually long and can cause damages.

Asides that, penguins are social creatures and they hang out in groups a lot.

Now, imagine getting closer to these group of birds and getting attacked. This time, not with a beak and two wings, but with several other beaks and a couple of other wings.

Ouch! That hurts!

Can Penguins Kill Each Other?

Some species of penguins can kill each other.

A study on the behavior of male Adelie penguins found out that during mating season, aroused Adelie would force themselves on other penguins and even chicks, often killing them. How horrible can that be?

Other penguins can fight with themselves, but they are not likely to kill each other.

How Do Penguins Protect Themselves From Predators?

There are several way penguins protect themselves from predators, either in land or in water.

  • Fast swimming

It is no longer a surprise that penguins are gifted swimmers and another unarguable fact is that they have several predators in water, ranging from orcas to leopard seals and other sea mammals.

Penguins protect themselves from these predators through their impressive swimming abilities.

A penguin have strong flippers which they also use for moving quickly underwater.

They can as well, change direction swiftly in water and even jump out of the water with great force so that they land a great distance from the water.

  • Intimidating gestures

Penguins can hold a sharp gaze on you, flap their flippers and make threatening gestures for predators that they are of the same size with

  • Moving in groups

Another way penguins protect themselves from predators is by moving in groups. A group of penguins are most likely to evade a predator’s attack than a lone penguins.

I guess we are not the only ones aware of the fact that there’s unity in strength!

  • Huddling

Emperor penguins often huddle together to protect themselves from the Antarctica cold and their chicks from predators.

Any predator lurking to steal chicks would definitely back off on seeing the penguins in a powerful huddle.

Other ways penguins protect themselves from predators include camouflaging, often known as countershading, loud squawking, and even burrowing.

Also check out this article I wrote on how penguins sleep

Why are Penguins Considered Endangered Species?

Sadly, penguins are one of the most hunted group of seabirds. Several types of penguins, including the African and Galapagos at considered endangered because their population is decreasing at an alarming rate.

This can be because of the different threats they face, such as potential predators, diseases, volcanic eruptions, pollution, climate change and harsh weather conditions as well.

Another reason penguins are gradually getting endangered is because of by catch, that is, when they are accidentally caught in fishing nets.

Researches have also proven that of all penguin species, five are in danger of extinction, five are vulnerable, three are near threatened and just three are the least concerned.


The bottom line is that penguins are not really dangerous, but they can go miles in ensuring their safety and that of their chicks which paves way for an aggressive behavior.

There are several other species of penguins and they are considered to be sociable creatures, with an exception of the crested penguins like rockhopper and chinstrap, known for their aggressive behavior.

Emperor penguins, on the other hand, are known to be the humblest.

Again, penguins are considered endangered because of their fast decreasing population and that is why immediate action has been taken to manage this issue.

Endangered species are well protected by organizations and zoos and it is now illegal to hunt down a penguin.

What would you do if you come across a penguin? Do you consider them dangerous or not?

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About the author

Chukay Alex

Chukay is a season writer and farmer who enjoys farming and growing plants in his backyard farm. When he is not farming you can find him at the nearest lawn tennis court, hitting a mean backhand down the line.


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