Can Penguins Jump? (Explained for Beginners)

by Chukay Alex
Updated on

Yes, penguins can jump even though they might not be able to fly like other birds. Penguins have webbed feet which gives them a waddle walk with which they cannot cover large distances.

You might have seen penguins hopping from one place to another or suddenly leaping out of the water while swimming.

Penguins are known as happy feet as they can be seen bouncing along on one rock to the other.

This article will discuss penguin jumping, how high they can jump, why they leap out of the water, and whether they have knees. 

Can Penguins Jump?

Can Penguins Jump

Penguins do not have the ability to fly like other birds as they have fish like flippers in place of wings.

Penguins waddle while walking and also toboggan which is the process of sliding on their stomachs to cover longer distances.

Another thing penguins can do pretty well is to jump. Penguins are high jumpers and some can leap as high as 6 feet into the air.

Penguins can be seen leaping from the water or bouncing from rock to rock.

Although it might seem difficult, the penguins have perfected the trick over time and are known for their happy feet.

Some species, the African penguins, Galapagos and Rockhoppers have adapted to hopping from rock to rock in their natural habitat and can usually be seen hopping about frequently. 

Why Do Penguins Leap?

Apart from the fact that penguins have an awkward waddle walk, they cover a lesser distance with the waddle and can go farther by hopping and leaping. 

Penguins regularly leap into the air from the water and some can go as high as 6 feet at times. The penguins spend a lot of time underwater swimming and they exhibit leaping behavior when they come ashore. 

Adelie penguins are usually seen leaping at lake shores when they come ashore especially in areas where the terrain is rocky or there is an abundance of ice floes.

This is a way for the penguins to have fun and play around before they go underwater.

Penguins also leap high in the air or long distances to avoid danger or predators.

It’s been established that the waddle walk can only take them so far, so if they encounter a predator when on land or in the sea, leaping is a sure way to get out of trouble. 

Related: Here is an article I wrote on can penguins walk backwards

How Do Penguins Hop?

Scientists have wondered how penguins are able to leap high from water into the air despite their big bodies and small flipper wings.

Some penguin species such as the Rockhopper prefer to hop around to cover greater distances while moving.

This is especially helped by a rocky terrain where they can be seen hopping from terrain to terrain.

Research discovered that penguins collect air bubbles while swimming and as such they can leap or hop out of the water at great speeds by cloaking themselves in those air bubbles. 

This technique makes it easy for the penguins to swim fast enough enough and then hop out of the sea when they need to.

The hopping and leaping adaptation helps to protect the penguins from predators both on land and on sea.

And of course, the playful penguins are able to catch a bit of fun too

Can Penguins Jump Out Of Water?

Jumping out of water also known as porpoising is a common activity among many penguin species.

Penguins spend most of their lives in the water and can often be seen porpoising while swimming.

These jumps can go as high as 6 feet in the air at some times.

Scientists have been able to discover the reason behind the penguins ability to fly out of water and look graceful despite their big size.

Porpoising is an adaptation by the penguins which they make by gathering air bubbles around them while swimming.

These bubbles are then used as rafts to propel them out of the water and into the air to quite some heights. 

This adaptation has been used by humans in making boats and even torpedoes but until recent times, it wasn’t attributed as the technique for penguin leaps and jumps. 

Not only do the penguins have a great time with this activity, they use it to literally leap away from predators such as sharks and killer whales who live in the ocean with them.

Do Penguins Jump 6 Feet In The Air?

Penguins can’t fly but they can definitely jump as high as 6 feet in the air.

This is an astounding feat usually carried out by the penguins and to top it all they look graceful and beautiful doing it. 

Furthermore, the high jumping point varies depending on the species. However, the average height at which a penguin jumps is 6 feet with some even going as high as 9 feet in the air.

They often jump from the water to the land in order to avoid being eaten by water predators such as leopard seals.

To perform this feat, penguins gather air bubbles while they are swimming and when they are ready to leap out, they release the bubbles and serve as a buoy to propel them out of the water to the heights we see them.

It is an amazing feat performed by the most popular bird species in the world.

Also check out this article on why do penguins waddle

How High Can Penguins Jump?

Penguins are known for their jumps and happy feet. The jumping height of a penguin is usually dependent on their size and species.

The average height for penguin jumping is 6 feet.

Whether leaping out of the water or hopping from rock to rock, jumping is an adaptation of penguins to escape predators and go farther distances.

The Southern Rockhopper penguin for example can jump as high as 6 feet among the rocks of the rough terrains they live in.

They can often be seen hopping from one rock and also jumping long distances into the ocean.

Do Penguins Have Knees?

With their short legs which lead to webbed feet, it might be difficult to imagine that penguins have knees.

However, penguins do have knees as it has been discovered by researchers.

One thing to note in penguin anatomy is that the leg of a penguin is made up of a short femur, knee, tibia, and fibula.

The upper leg bones are hidden by feathers, giving penguins the appearance of being very short-legged. 

Because penguins are designed to be slick and kinematic in nature, possessing long legs would add drag and make swimming difficult.

With their short legs and webbed feet to act as controlled penguins, they are able to swim comfortably.

Penguins International provides more facts and information on the anatomy of penguins knees and how it aids them in swimming.


Jumping, leaping or hopping is one activity common to most penguin species.

Penguins hop and leap to cover larger distances on land as their waddle walk can be slow.

They also do this to escape from predators whether on land or in the water.

Penguins are oftentimes seen porpoising or leaping out of the water while swimming and they look graceful doing this.

Penguins can fly as high 6feet out of the water and they often do this to avoid being eaten by sea predators.

The penguins are able to achieve this feat by gathering air bubbles while swimming and releasing them once they are ready to leap.

They cloak themselves with these bubbles and these serve as a buoy to propel them into the air. 

Despite their short legs, penguins have knees and their anatomy enables them to be good swimmers in the earth’s oceans.

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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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