Do Penguins Have Noses? (3 Things To Note)

by Chukay Alex
Updated on

Penguins are cute aquatic birds that cannot fly. These birds possess unique feathers that make them amazing swimmers.  

Just like every living creature, they possess the basic characteristics of living things like moving, excreting, feeding, breathing, etc.  

There’s no doubt that these creatures do inhale and exhale oxygen. However, this is quite a puzzle. This is because generally, respiration involves the heart, lungs, and nose.

So, how do penguins breathe in air? Do penguins have noses? Let’s find out if they do.

Do Penguins Have Noses?

Do Penguins Have Noses

Yes, penguins do have noses. However, their nose is referred to as nares. These nares are found on the beaks or bill.

Just like we have two nostrils, penguins also have two nares, one on either side of their bill.

These nares serve as the entrance to the respiratory tract and contain the olfactory organ.

This olfactory organ is an important element found within the nose. It provides air for respiration and also serves the sense of smell.

It also conditions the air by filtering, warming, and moistening it, thereby cleansing itself of foreign debris extracted from inhalations.

Without the olfactory organ, the nose will only be a hole.

What Is A Penguin’s Nose Called?

The beak is a structure that houses the nose of a penguin. As previously stated, the nose of a penguin is called nares.

The nares contain a filter gland called the supraorbital gland. The Supraorbital gland is a nasal gland located on the lateral nasal wall.

It can be found right around the corner of the eye socket. The supraorbital gland serves as a filter for the nares.

We can say this gland is similar to the kidney. This gland is specifically designed to remove sodium chloride from the bloodstream of penguins.

Penguins have access to an excessive amount of salt due to the presence of seawater. This is because they live in areas where freshwater is scarce or non-existent.

The brine that is produced by the penguins’ nose is made up of the salt that has been filtered out.

Salt is trapped in the gland as blood passes through it, preventing it from traveling through the rest of the body.

Excess salt in the penguin’s gland mixes with moisture inside the gland, and travels down the nasal passage and drips out of the penguin’s nose.

Since penguins eventually filter out the salt, it has no negative impact on them.

However, just as it is harmful to humans, too much salt can be harmful to birds as well.

Several studies have found that salt is toxic to birds, particularly small birds.

A single salty chip can upset the electrolyte and fluid balance in a bird’s tiny body. This may result in excessive thirst, dehydration, kidney failure, and death in the most extreme cases.

Some birds eat significantly more salt than others, without a doubt. This is because they have innate abilities that allow them to take in greater amounts of salt.

Purple finches, pine siskins, nuthatches, woodpeckers, blue jays, and crows are just a few of the birds that are attracted to salt.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on can penguins drink saltwater

Can Penguins Smell? How Do Penguins Smell?

Penguins can smell just like most birds. This is because they possess well-developed olfactory lobes.

This organ is used by most mammals, amphibians, and reptiles to detect odor particles.

Penguins have long been believed to lack a sense of smell, as they primarily rely on vision for underwater foraging.

However, multiple lines of evidence have demonstrated that penguins possess a functional sense of smell.

Penguins can sniff out the odor of lifelong mates, helping them reunite in crowded colonies.

They can also identify the scent of close kin to avoid inbreeding.

However, penguins have an awful smell, especially to humans. However, this isn’t a problem for their fellow penguins.

Well, since they all smell the same way, it definitely shouldn’t be a problem. This awful smell is natural to them though.

Wondering why penguins smell so bad? There are certain factors known to cause their unpleasant smell. Here are some of them.

  1. Penguins tend to excrete everywhere in their environment. The smell gets worse when there are colonies of penguins. The entire neighborhood would definitely smell of poop.
  2. The smell of penguins poop usually gets worse in warmer temperatures. The colder the temperature, the lesser the smell.
  3. The presence of fish in their diet is sufficient to cause their feces to smell foul. Penguins eat krill and fish, which cause their feces to be a variety of colors ranging from pink to white.

The more krill there is, the pinker the color will be. The guano becomes whiter as the number of fish increases.

Is A Penguin’s Beak Its Nose Or Mouth?

The beak of a penguin serves as both its nose and mouth. Isn’t it fascinating?

This is because the penguin’s beak contains both the mouth and the penguin’s supposed nostrils.

The beak has two holes in it, which are used for breathing. All birds have this feature.

The beak also contains the mouth, which is a natural feature. In birds, a beak is an anatomical structure that is found on the outside of their mouths.

The Upper and lower mandibles make up the beaks. Every bird has only one beak. It would definitely be weird if they had more than one.

However, beaks have uniquely evolved in each species to improve its functions in response to its environment.

The beaks of these birds are extremely important. Aside from hosting their nose and mouth, the beak provides other amazing significance to penguins.

Here are some amazing things penguins do with their beaks.

  • Penguins groom their feathers with their beaks. This is one of the functions of their beaks. They comb their feathers to keep them in good condition. They also use their beak to reposition any feathers that are in an incorrect position.
  • Their beaks also act as a cleaning agent. Penguins use their beaks to clean themselves. Many birds apply a thin layer of oil to their feathers before flying, which helps to keep them waterproof. They also remove any dirt or parasites that may have accumulated over time.
  • Male penguins use their beaks to attract females to them during mating season.
  • Their beaks are also used to regulate their body temperature.
  • They use their beaks to construct nests for themselves. Birds are great architects, penguins inclusive. However, king and emperor penguins do not build nests. These species stand upright during their incubation period.
  • They use their beaks to protect their young ones from predators. A penguin will peck predators with its beak to protect its young. These birds get quite aggressive during their nesting season. Hence it is best to avoid them at this time.
  • Penguins rely on their beaks for the majority of their feeding. The beak of course is the gateway of their meals to the belly.

Can A Penguin Smell Underwater?

There is no current record of penguins smelling anything underwater. Penguins are known to have binocular vision.

They have excellent vision both in and out of the water. And, this allows them to hunt more efficiently.

Many people are perplexed as to how penguins find food in the ocean. They can find squids even though they are traveling to depths where there is little or no light. This helps to explain how good their vision is.

Do Penguins Have Nosebleeds?

Yes, penguins can experience nose bleeding. Bleeding is a symptom of many different illnesses in birds, making it critical to identify the underlying cause as quickly as possible.

If a penguin has a nosebleed but otherwise appears healthy, it could be caused by an allergy to something such as feathers or dust in the environment.

Do Penguins Sneeze?

Yes, penguins do sneeze. Generally, penguins are most often found in saltwater.

This causes them to consume saltwater as a result of eating from the ocean. Special salt glands have been implanted in their bodies to keep them from becoming dehydrated.

The supraorbital gland is the name given to this gland, which is located behind their eyes.

This gland’s primary function is to filter out excess salt from the body’s bloodstream and excrete it. This causes the salt to drain down their beak and out of their nostrils.

The salt flies out of the penguins’ mouths when they exhale or shake their heads. In some ways, it appears as though they are sneezing, but they are actually exhaling salt.

The majority of the time, birds sneeze when they come into contact with dust or when there is an obstruction in their airway.

If something were to become lodged in them, the bird would force air through their passages to disperse whatever was causing the obstruction.


Penguins are fascinating birds and yes, they have noses. Their nose is incorporated on their beaks, the same place you’d find their mouths.

Their nose however is called nares.

Penguins have two nares on their beak. The nares contain the olfactory organ which helps them breathe and smell.

They also contain supraorbital gland serves which serves as a filter for the nares.

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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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