Fairy Penguin

Fairy Penguin



COMMON NAME: little penguin, little blue penguin, fairy penguin
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
ORDER: Sphenisciformes
FAMILY: Spheniscidae
GENUS SPECIES: Eudyptula minor


DESCRIPTION: The little penguin is the smallest of the 17 penguin species. They have slate-blue to black feathers and a white chin and chest.
SIZE: Up to 41 cm (16 in.)
WEIGHT: Up to 1 kg (2 lb.)
DIET: Small fishes
INCUBATION: 33-37 days
SEXUAL MATURITY: 2-3 years old
LIFE SPAN: 15-20 years
RANGE: southern Australia and New Zealand
HABITAT: Sandy or rocky islands
POPULATION: GLOBAL less than 1 million individuals in Australia
STATUS: IUCN Least concern
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed


1. Little penguins have bluish-gray eyes.
2. The maximum swimming speed for little penguins is about 2.5 kph (1.6 mph).
3. Little penguins can breed throughout the year and have the shortest breeding cycle of all penguin species, which lasts about 50 days.
4. Little penguins rely on burrows and a nocturnal lifestyle to avoid predators such as swamp harriers, peregrines, gulls, snakes, rats, and lizards.
5. For more information about penguins, explore the PENGUIN INFOBOOK.


All 18 penguin species are legally protected from hunting and egg collecting. The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 makes it illegal to harm, or in any way interfere with, a penguin or its eggs. Every penguin specimen collected with a permit must be approved by and reported to the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR). Penguins are vulnerable to habitat destruction, overfishing of primary food sources, ecological disasters such as oil spills, pollution such as trash in the ocean, and human encroachment into nesting areas.


BirdLife International (2006) Species factsheet: Eudyptula minor. Downloaded from birdlife.org

Coats, Judith. Penguins: Flightless Birds of the Southern Hemisphere. SeaWorld Education Department, 2001.

Nuzzolo, Debbie. Penguin March. SeaWorld Education Department, 2002.