What type of animal are penguins?
Penguins are seabirds that don't fly. They have a beak, feathers and lay eggs. Penguins have modified wings called flippers that they use for swimming in the ocean.
How many species of penguins are there?
Around the world there are 17 species of penguins. All penguins are found in the southern hemisphere (Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, sub-Antarctic islands, South America and Africa).
How many little penguins are there?
Phillip Island is home to an estimated 32,000 little penguins. Current estimates put the total little penguin population at one million.
How do you tell the difference between male and female little penguins?
It's all in the beak! Adult females have a thinner beak than males. Males have a distinct hook on the end of their beak.
Penguins at sea
- Penguins have many adaptations for a life at sea, including:
- Modified wings called flippers to 'fly' through the water
- A gland to spread an oil like substance over their feathers when preening to help keep them waterproof
- A streamlined shape
- Waterproof feathers (outer layer)
- A layer of down next to their skin to trap air and keep them warm
- A salt gland above their eyes to filter salt from seawater, providing penguins with freshwater.
How many girlfriends?
The biggest Australian fur seal males, called bulls, hold the largest territories. Bulls can have more than 9 cows in their territory! Now that sounds like a lot of hard work!
Pick on someone your own size!
Male and female Australian fur seals are very different in size. Bulls can weigh 300 kg or more, whereas cows are much smaller weighing only around 80kg. When borne, pups are a tiny 7 kg and must be careful to stay out of the ways of fighting bulls as they may be easily crushed.
Just like puppies, young seal are very playful! They twist and turn in the water playing with anything they find. Pups can become easily tangled in rubbish and old fishing line that is now floating around in our oceans.
While fishing, Australian fur seals can dive down over 200m to the ocean floor and hold their breath for up to three minutes!
Deep sleep? Think again…
Seals can rest and sleep in the water. To do this, they float at the surface on their side, often with one flipper up and one down. This way they can feel the directions of wind and water movement. Like many marine mammals, they can shut down one half of their brain and remain partially alert with the other half
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Sounds strange! But for koalas, having two thumbs means they have great strength in their hands to climb high into tree tops and grasp branches to get to leaves.
Sore bum sitting in that tree all day?
Not our Koalas! Koala’s have a thick piece of gristly cartilage on their behind (just the like the cartilage in your nose) so they can sit on hard branches for long periods of time.
YUCK you might say! But for joeys, eating ‘pap’ (the special poo their mothers produce) is an essential part of establishing the bacteria in their gut to digest eucalyptus leaves.
Koalas very rarely drink. They get all their water requirements from inside the leaves they eat. Only in times of great heat stress have koalas been seen drinking.
Koalas spend 20 hours a day sleeping but not because they’re lazy. Koalas eat a low energy diet of eucalyptus leaves and must conserve their energy.
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Discover more about the unique animals and habitats found on Phillip Island by downloading our Nature Notes. Perfect for school projects or increasing your wildlife knowledge!