Penguins are adorable. Small things are adorable. Therefore I put it to you that little penguins are the cutest penguins ever. There is actually a species of penguin called the little penguin, also known as the fairy penguin, the little blue penguin or blue penguin. And they are pretty cute. Even their name is cute.

Little penguins are found in Australia and New Zealand, residing in coastal areas so they have easy access to water. They nest in burrows, usually digging these in sand, though they will also roost in caves and rocky crevices.

A group of little penguins at a zoo in Australia. Image by Stephen Dann from Canberra, Australia, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As their name suggests, little penguins are quite small, and have the honour of being the smallest penguins in the world. They stand only 30 cm high, and weigh around 1.2 kg. Little penguins have the typical white chin and breasts of penguins, though its backside is blue, not black. Some variations in colour can occur, such as the penguins’ undersides being grey or brown, and the blue feathers tend to dull with age.

Mating in little penguins relies fairly heavily on courtship displays. Male penguins will stand with their heads pointing to the sky and wings stretched out while calling loudly to any female that might hear. If a female does come by, and likes the look of a male, the two will perform a dance together, where one bird bows its head to the other, and then they waddle around their nest while braying like donkeys. It sounds weird, but if that’s what it takes to get love in the air, I guess it’s worth it.

Once a pair bond is formed, the penguins stay faithful, with little penguins only choosing new mates if nesting is unsuccessful, or their mate dies. The females lay one to two eggs, which hatch after about a month. The baby penguins are super adorable, and are covered with fluffy feathers. During the first few weeks after birth, both parents take care of the chicks, working in shifts of three to four days. The chicks fledge at two months of age and are fully independent between 57 and 78 days of age.

A family of little penguins hanging out in their burrow. Image by JJ Harrison (, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Though little penguins are diurnal, meaning they are mostly active during the day, they will often call to each other at night while they are roosting. There are a variety of different calls that little penguins use, and each penguin has a unique call that helps them identify themselves to family members.

Although their small size makes the little penguin an easy target for predators, the species remains fairly numerous. Still, habitat loss and pollution do impact the little penguin population, so hopefully we can keep these guys happy and healthy for a long time to come.

Cover image by Magnus Kjaergaard, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons