Most people know what a penguin is, although not many get the chance to see one live and especially in its natural environment. The penguin is a very popular flightless bird. It is an aquatic creature that has perfectly adapted to living its life in the water. It has a very popular countershading in the form of a distinct tuxedo-like appearance.
This type of camouflage will help these creatures stay safe inside the water. Even though they aren’t suited for swimming, penguins still have wing-bones, but these look more like flippers.
These are among the most popular birds in zoos and aquatic parks all around the world, as you might know.
How much does a penguin cost?
The average cost of a penguin is somewhere between $500 and $22,000, depending on factors like the breeding, the age and breed of the bird, and your location, according to classified ads you can find online. Penguins aren’t solitary birds, so you will probably need to get at least two, if not more, for them to have a healthy, happy life.
But before you start thinking about adding a penguin to your life, make sure that you are allowed to own one legally in your state. And even if you are allowed to own exotic animals like penguins, you will probably need to get the needed paperwork and permits from your local government.
Furthermore, when you adopt a penguin, you will have to get it from a facility that has a USDA permit. All of these things make it really hard for regular people to adopt and then keep a penguin as a pet.
Additional costs when you get a penguin as a pet
Your pet penguin will need a healthy diet, made of a constant supply of fish coupled with vitamins and supplements. And these birds are quite the eaters, eating around 400 pounds of fish per year. They also need to eat daily with no exception. You will spend about $1,000 per year to feed this bird, but this depends on the type of fish you’re giving it.
You will also have to get a big habitat for your penguins, that comes packed with vegetation, a deep pool of salt water, and temperature control. You will likely spend several tens of thousands of dollars on the habitat and its maintenance alone, especially for the water inside it, which will usually cost several thousands per year.
Penguins are social creatures. Most penguins will nest, feed, and swim together in big groups, as they are social birds. There are some species that during the breeding season, will form huge groups, known as rookeries. These can include several thousand penguins. All penguins have distinct calls, which means that individuals can find their mates and even their chicks even if they are part of a large group.
The emperor and king penguin species will lay only one egg at a time, while other species can lay as many as two eggs. They will only have a natural, healthy lifestyle when they are surrounded by others of their kind.
Another cost to consider is related to the needed permits.
Unexpected vet bills, as well as periodic vet visits, are also something you should consider. It will be pretty hard to find a local vet to treat exotic pets as well, as they will need the proper knowledge to work with these birds. And if the vet has to travel to your location, then the costs for just one visit will be more than what you’d spend to visit them at the local office.
Tips to keep in mind
Penguins are a very iconic figure in the avian world. They are considered flightless marine birds and inhabit basically every continent within the Southern Hemisphere. You can find them anywhere from Antarctica, where the emperor penguin lives, to the home of Galapagos penguins, located in the Galapagos Islands that are near South America. Regardless of their species, all penguins belong to the family Spheniscidae.
Scientists still have debates over the exact number of species of penguin. Most estimate between 15 and 19 species currently roaming the planet.
The Little Blue Penguin, which you can find in Australia and New Zealand, is known as the smallest penguin variety, with a height of just 14 inches. The largest one, on the other hand, stands at an impressive four feet in height when reaching adulthood, and is the popular Emperor Penguin.
Other varieties of penguins are the Yellow-Eyed, Snares, Royal, Rockhopper, Macroni, Mgallanic, Little, King, Humboldt, Galapagos, Gento, Chinsptrap, African, and Adelie.
Penguins have the same coloration regardless of their species, having retained it over the years. They have pale bellies and dark backs.
Penguins spend as much as 75% of their lives in water. This is where they do their hunting, as their primary prey will be found within 60 feet of the water’s surface. This means penguins dive in deep waters to find their food.
While hunting, Penguins will usually catch prey in their beaks and swallow it whole while they are still swimming. There are also species that won’t leave the water aside from molting and breeding.
As a general rule, the closer to the equator a penguin species is, the more fish it will eat, whole species closer to Antarctica will eat more squid and krill.
The dark back of these penguins will camouflage them from predators above, while the white belly makes them invisible to the prey below, which means that the penguin coloration is one of their biggest advantages while hunting. seafood like crustaceans and fish.
Owning a penguin
Most penguin species are currently illegal to purchase or have as pets all around the US, as they are considered endangered species. More information on the specific species to watch out for and the legalities around owning a penguin can be found on the official USDA.gov website.
As there are fewer and fewer penguins in the world, buying a penguin should be your last option and you should consider adopting one instead, through adoption programs available at local zoos.