Why do Penguins Waddle Or Wobble? How Do Penguins Walk?

One of the most fascinating things about a penguin is the way it walks.

While penguins are majorly known to be great swimmers, they are also known to be not-so-great walkers. In fact, most people find their walks to be entertaining and funny.

However, there is a reason why a penguin walks the way it walks. Over the years, penguins’ bodies have evolved in ways that make them excellent swimmers. But the same evolution has made them wobbly walkers. 

How do penguins walk?

When penguins walk, their posture is usually upright and they take small steps at a quicker pace. As they take one step at a time, their bodies are usually angled forward. 

This makes their walk seem unsteady and even absurd at times. They are even known to waddle and hop while walking

Why do penguins walk so weirdly?

A penguin’s weird walk is actually very effective in helping them maintain their balance while walking. Because penguins live in icy areas, and thus walk on ice for the majority of the time, their wobbly walk and waddling actually help them fall less on the slippery surface.

Why do penguins waddle when they walk?

The reason penguins waddle so much when they walk is that their bodies are formed in ways that make it convenient for them to dive into the water and swim with ease. Penguins spend the majority of their time in the water, and thus, only walk when it is really needed.

However, waddling actually helps the penguins in raising their center of mass, without which they would have to exert more energy. So, waddling actually helps the penguins in preserving more energy.

Why do penguins waddle when they have knees?

A penguin’s knees are bent in shape and are more helpful in swimming than walking. Penguins use their knees more when they swim as compared to when they walk.

Also, when penguins walk, they put stress on the soles of their feet and not their toes. This makes them exert more energy while walking. Their knees are not helpful in relieving that stress.

Related Read: Can Penguins Live In Warm Weather? How Do Penguins Survive Warm Weather?

Why do penguins also wobble while walking?

Penguins wobble because they take small but quick steps while walking on ice. Not only does the slippery surface of the ice make them prone to falling, but it also makes them wobble a lot while walking.

The way their legs have been proportioned makes them better swimmers.  However, they also make their walks a lot more wobbly.

Do all species of penguins waddle?

Yes, all species of penguins waddle while walking on land. There are 18 species of penguins existing in the world as of now, and all of them are known to waddle while walking on land.

A group of penguins, when on land, is actually called a waddle. They get this name because of their famous way of waddling on land.

How do penguins waddle?

When penguins walk on land, they usually put all their weight on one step and then sway while they take another step. In the same manner, they continue to shift their weight from one foot to the other – all the while swaying at the same time.

This whole shifting the body weight and swaying motion while taking small but fast-paced steps is what makes up waddling. That’s just how penguins walk on land. 

How fast do penguins waddle?

It has been observed that the speed at which penguins waddle can be as low as 1.5 miles per hour to as high as 2.4 miles per hour. 

Even though they take short but quick steps, penguins are not considered to be fast-paced walkers. Rather, they are often categorized as slow walkers. 

How far can penguins walk in a day?

It has been observed that penguins, especially Adelie penguins, walk around 8000 miles per year. This means that on average these penguins walk around 20-21 miles every day.

Why do penguins walk so much?

Penguins walk a lot because they tend to migrate to even colder areas each year. Due to global warming, the amount of ice in Antarctica has reduced and is continuing to reduce each year.

This forces the penguins to migrate to areas that have a greater abundance of ice. Even though they also cover a lot of their distance by swimming, penguins tend to walk a lot during the entire migration journey.

Penguins are also known to migrate in large groups. Sometimes, the number of penguins in a group can be over a hundred.

Why do penguins waddle with their wings out?

When a penguin waddles with its wings out, it is able to release the heat from its body that is produced while walking. Penguins have the ability to release trapped heat inside their bodies with the help of their wings.

Waddling with their wings out also helps the penguins to maintain their balance while walking. However, the main reason behind this act is still to release body heat. They are usually seen walking like this on hotter days as well. 

Related Read: Can Penguins Fly? Do Penguins Have Wings?

Do penguins walk in a line?

Yes, penguins tend to walk longer distances in a line or a queue. This behavior is generally observed in penguins, especially during migration. 

Why do penguins walk in a line?

It has been observed that penguins walk in a line to conserve energy. When penguins walk long distances on land, they tend to exert a lot more energy as compared to when they are swimming.

So, when they cover long distances while walking, they form a line because even when one of their members loses their way, it leads to more exertion by an entire lot of the penguins to get the lost member back on track. 

So, maintaining a queue while walking not only saves them energy, it also saves them some time.

Other facts related to a penguin’s walk:

  • Even though penguins’ walk is awkward and they tend to fall over quite often, their feet are strong enough to carry them for long-distance walking.
  • While one of the reasons why penguins travel in a group is to protect themselves from predators, their main predators are not found on land. Their predators are often found in the ocean. For example, leopard seals, killer whales, and so on.
  • Penguins exert twice as much energy while walking as compared to swimming.
  • While on land, penguins also prefer to slide on their bellies over walking at times. Not only does this require less use of energy from the penguins, but it also saves them a lot of time while traveling.
  • It is believed that in ancient times, penguins used to be better walkers than swimmers. With centuries of evolution, their bodies have developed in an entirely different manner than how they used to be!

Related Read: Do Penguins Have Teeth? What’s Inside A Penguin’s Mouth?


While a penguin’s waddle is fascinating to almost every person that sees it, there are scientific reasons behind their awkward walk. Their bodies have evolved to make them better swimmers.

That is why when they swim, it is said that they fly in the water. However, when they walk, it is a completely different sight. But this is what makes penguins so special. Even with a wobbly walk, they are able to cover long distances on land.

Further studies are being conducted at present that is looking into greater details regarding a penguin’s waddle.