Are Penguins Mammals? Updated 2021

Are penguin mammals?

One thing that you must know about penguins is that they are not mammals, but come under the category of birds. So, if anyone asks you, are penguins mammals? Now you can confidently answer them that they are not.

But why? Let’s find out. For an animal to be a mammal it should exhibit these main characteristics:

  1. It should be warm-blooded.
  2. The female must feed her young-ones.
  3. There must be three bones present in the middle ear. 
  4. Presence of mammary glands is must in the females.
  5. It must have a vertebral column.

Based on the above information, it is evident that a penguin cannot be a mammal because they do not have these capabilities. First, penguins lay eggs like other birds and they do not deliver their babies like mammals. Most people believe that penguins are mammals mainly due to their straight posture. Penguins also do not fly like birds, instead they swim which also led to this myth

Secondly, they don’t have mammary glands, and hence no milk production and feeding like mammals. But on the other hand, like birds they also feed their young the prey they eat like fish, krill, and squids.

Also, one of the most prominent features about penguins proving they are birds is feathers. Although penguins are flightless birds and they do have stiff and rigid birds, they still are birds. They have hollow bones again like the birds which aid them in buoyancy while swimming.

Are penguins mammals?

Mammals are those members that belong to the Kingdom Animalia. The mammals have a few particular traits that are common in all mammals, for example, trio ear bones, mammary glands, hairs, and feeding their young ones by milk.

Mainly the body structures of the mammals have similar morphology however as they have to survive in different habitats they have to adapt their bodies according to that; some fly, some crawl, some burrow, and some live on land. Having a placenta is the main feature that differentiates mammals, Placenta is the membrane that connects the fetus and the mother. Through it, the mother is able to provide nutrients to her young one.

Are penguins mammals? So keeping in mind the above discussion, it is evident that penguins are not mammals, but they are birds. The prime reason why penguins are mammals is that they do not feed their fetuses through Placenta, and also they do not deliver a developed young one. Instead, they lay eggs, and the embryo gets all the nutrition through the egg.Another point is that they do not nurture their young ones through milk while they feed them on their chewed up or regurgitated diet like squid, krill, and fishes. Therefore, the taxonomy of the penguins lies in the class Aves, with the family Spheniscidae, and further classification as Impennes.

Are penguin mammals? No, they are not because they have many features that resemble birds, and not with mammals. They lay eggs, have wings, a feathered body, and they feed their chicks in the same manner as birds. Additionally, their bones are also similar to the birds, as they are hollow, plus they do not have paws or legs like mammals; instead, their feet are related to birds.

Are penguins mammals or amphibians?

Most of the people mostly take penguins as white and black cute creatures who are experts in dancing. Are penguins mammals or amphibians? Well no, they are not mammals or amphibians. In fact, they are flightless birds with wings that they use for swimming and not flying.

Penguins lay eggs, they have feathers on their bodies; they do not feed their children on milk. These all are features of birds and not mammals or amphibians. The fact is it is hard for people to believe in them as birds are due to their morphology. They do resemble more with mammals instead of birds like ostriches, hummingbirds or woodpeckers, etc.

That’s true that we have a concept of flying about all the birds. And when we see penguins swimming, it gets hard to associate the word “Bird” with them. However. In scientific taxonomy, they are a part of the class “Aves”.

The original question is “are penguins mammals?”. Well, they are birds, and every bird from the giant hawk to the smallest hummingbirds have standard features that put them together in the same class. These are:

  1. All birds bear feathers.
  2. Every bird reproduces by eggs.
  3. Birds do not feed their young ones on the milk.
  4. Birds are vertebrates.
  5. Birds have particular lungs for breathing in high metabolic bodies.
  6. Unlike reptiles or amphibians, which are cold-blooded, birds are warm-blooded.

However, there are some features too that are common in mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. For example, like mammals, amphibians are also vertebrates. Turtles also lay eggs, and so do the birds. However, the main things that differentiate them are feathers and bills.

Penguins have short tapered feathers on their bodies overall. The feathers provide them with insulation and keep them warm in cold regions; their wings have evolved by the time and become flippers. Flippers help them to swim excellently in waters.

Like all other birds, penguins also have beaks. Their beak shape depends on what is their diet. For example, those penguins which eat krills have broader bills than those who eat smaller insects. All birds don’t bear teeth in their beaks and so do the penguins. Instead, they have a fleshy structure through which they are able to swallow the alive fish. Beaks also help them to hold active prey.

Why is a penguin considered a mammal?

Penguins are considered as mammals because they have an appearance much similar to mammals. But they are birds and belong to the family Spheniscidae and are a part of class Aves. They cannot be mammals as their habits, behaviors, anatomy, and morphology is not similar to mammals. Egg-laying, a feathered body, and having a beak are factors that do not fit for being mammals.

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Are penguins birds or mammals?

Among different species, penguins are someone that is least studied, and therefore children and elders likely have misconceptions about them. Below I am going to describe some common differences about birds and mammals, through which it will become easy for you to understand the difference between two.



Mammals give birth to a mature and developed young one. Birds lay eggs, and the embryo gets all of its nutrition through the egg.
Mammals have true hair or fur.Birds bear feathers on their bodies.
Mammals have bone marrow in bones.Birds have hollow bones because of flying.
Mammals have feet, paws, or hooves.Birds have wings.
Mammals feed their young ones through the milk, produced by their mammary glands.Birds feed their babies on the prey.
Mammals have a larynx responsible for the production of sound.Birds have syrinx for vocalizing.
Mammal’s lung contract and release for breathing.Birds exchange gases through multiple alveoli.
Respiration takes place in two phases or cyclesRespiration takes place in a single phase.
Red blood cells do not contain nuclei.Red blood cells contain nuclei.

It is clear from the above discussion that penguins are birds and not mammals.

What is a penguin classified as?

Penguins are birds that belong to the class Aves and the family Sphiniscidae. Their subclass is Impennes. Penguins have feathered bodies, beak according to their diet, and lay eggs. Therefore penguins are birds.

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