Why Do Penguins Slide on Their Bellies? (Answered)

by Chukay Alex
Updated on

Penguins slide on their bellies for several reasons, it might be to escape from predators, to move faster down a hill, or even to have fun.

As unusual as it may seem penguins do things just for fun.

There is a big difference in the speed of their movement when penguins slide on their bellies.

Sliding on their belly is called tobogganing. This frustrates animals that want to prey on the penguins.

Tobogganing is a feat done by the penguins. To do this a penguin lies on its belly, the penguin is displaced at a horizontal position and slides down a hill.

A toboggan is a form of penguin skating on top of snow and ice, with the use of its feet and flippers for push, control, and deceleration.

Why Do Penguins Slide on Their Bellies?

Why Do Penguins Slide on Their Bellies

Penguins are a lot faster with them lying on their belly and sliding (specifically on ice and snow).

They also do so to avoid falling from hills since ice is very slippery, though their bodies are streamlined they don’t have enough stamina and you sure can’t stand on slanted or sloppy ice.

Penguins somethings slide away on their belly to escape from people who it doesn’t know or haven’t seen before, so do not be surprised when you see a penguin doing this when you approach it.

Strangers in this category include researchers from any part of the world, people who would want to look at the beauty of those creatures, people who haven’t seen penguins in their lives, travelers who might have also gone for an excursion to see those wonderful penguins… et cetera.

In several situations, penguins just toboggan for pleasure.

They just lie on their bellies and slide as it makes them happy and makes them feel at home.

As stated, penguins can control themselves when tobogganing by the use of their thrust, control, and deceleration.

It will be very hard for a penguin to maybe slide and fall because of their ability to make use of certain rules for balancing themselves.

One of the most compelling reasons penguins slide on their bellies is to make their travel fast, efficient, and comfortable because tobogganing can be very fast and effective as a means of movement.

However it is not every time a penguin slides on its bell that it is fast, sometimes The maximum speed a penguin attains when tobogganing could be the speed of a hopping bird or walking bird.

Penguins could be slow depending on their speed of tobogganing or the situation of the surface of the hill, whether the snow is a deep or rather fresh one.

Also, when penguins toboggan, it is more simple and convenient for them as they don’t use too much of their energy to cover a particular distance regardless of the speed. This is really an efficient use of energy.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on can penguins live in warm weather?

How Fast can a Penguin Slide on its Belly?

When a penguin slides on its belly, normally the penguin slides about 1.50 mph which is estimated a little above 2.0kph.

They could also increase the speed at which they move if they are provided with a wonderful slope, in which their body is placed at an angle that would be the most efficient for sliding.

This is great for smooth and fast transportation.

On land, an emperor penguin can move as fast as 1.55 mph or so which is estimated a little above 2.55 kph.

The speed at which an emperor penguin moves could increase greatly if they find a good enough slope, in which when they position on their belly perfectly, they would skate or slide faster than usual.

Do Emperor Penguins Slide on Their Bellies?

Emperor penguins do slide on their bellies, they love to do it and they are one of the species most noted for doing this.

If we were to say anything about the emperor penguin skating on its belly, it would be that they love it as much as other penguins do, maybe more.

Their bodies too are uniquely fit for moving around by tobogganing.

Emperor penguins on the surface of ice make use of their claws which are very sharp and potent to get hold of the ice surface for proper movement or sliding. The emperor penguins slide using their bellies and claws to move faster.

This is a sight to behold, if you have not seen it yet, you should endeavor to.

How Do Penguins Slide on Ice?

Penguins lay on their bellies to slide on ice and they use other parts of their bodies to steer their slide and give themselves momentum.

Penguins slide on ice to prevent themselves from falling, that is, if they had chosen to make use of their feet instead of their body.

On a slope, penguins slide on their bellies for transportation with the use of their incredible flippers and feet which gives them the control, upthrust, and ability to slow down.

Can Penguins Walk?

Yes, Penguins can walk. They do this with the help of their feet.

Their feet are massive and webbed for swimming, and with sharp claws which helps them to balance when walking.

The feet of a penguin may look very gawky when compared with human feet, but it helps them walk, although it is not as adapted for walking as it is for swimming.

This is part of the reasons penguins waddle when they walk.

Also check out this article I wrote on how do penguins communicate

Do Penguins only Slide in Water?

According to research, Penguins do slide in water.

They are aquatic birds so their most comfortable habitat is water, they spend 75 percent of their time in water.

They are proficient swimmers and sliders.

Do Penguins Ever Lay Down?

Penguins do lay down, they sleep much like humans although they can sleep standing.

Penguins remain on display all through the night as they sleep on isle or places surrounded by water.

Another way a penguin could sleep is by being buoyant or suspended on water which could also be seen as floating, by assuming a horizontal resting position on the surface of water, they can be said to be laying down.

They can sleep standing by tucking their beak beneath their flippers (wings).

But penguins like the King Penguin in addition to other species are well known for snoozing (sleeping) with their stomach facing downwards, enabling them to sleep on their stomach.

Similarly, other smaller penguins usually sleep or snooze in tunnels or holes, probably due to their size.

When the eggs of penguins are incubated, many categories of penguins will stay vertical or upright while they sleep.

Just like many humans, penguins enjoy snoozing in postures that seem genial, convenient, and out of harm’s way.


With this article, you now know why penguins slide on their belly.

Penguins slide on their bellies to make them faster and reduce the energy used in their body for easier and faster transportation.

You should be able to give insightful information relating to how penguins slide, how they sleep, if they lay down or not, and a host of other exciting things about these fascinating animals that are regarded as one of the most renowned aquatic birds known to man.

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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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