Montague Island is a protected nature reserve off the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia. The island is the second largest in New South Wales after Lord Howe.
The island is a famous tourist site noted for its lighthouse, recreational activities, and wildlife, notably little penguins. In this article, we will share some amazing facts that make these tiny penguins a must-see for everyone.
Little Penguins are the Smallest Penguin Species Known
The name of the species tells a lot about them. Adult little penguins only reach about 40 cm in height, weighing about 1kg, with males weighing more than females. In comparison, larger species like the Emperor penguins can grow as tall as 110 cm and weigh up to 90kg.
In terms of height, little penguins only grow to reach one-third of the height of emperor penguins. Not only does the Little Penguin have the smallest body size of any penguin at roughly 1 kilogram, but also, it’s the only penguin species with blue and white feathers.
Little Penguins are Skilled Hunters
Don’t let their small size fool you; little penguins are among the ocean’s top predators. Even with their small size, little penguins hunt and devour smaller species like crabs, shrimp, and krill (tiny shrimp-like crustaceans).
They prefer feeding in the shallow ocean 15 to 20 kilometers from shore. They also eat fish, including pilchards, anchovies, and garfish, close to the water’s surface. They can dive to the ocean bottom rapidly, where they eat krill and squid.
Little Penguins Can Spend Months in the Deep Sea
Due to their buoyancy, little penguins may rest on the water’s surface with minimum energy consumption for up to a month, enabling them to explore hundreds of kilometers away from their colonies.
Only while mating and shedding do they need to visit the land. During their extended stay at sea, barnacles may develop on their limbs.
Little Maintain their Mating Partners
Like humans, most little penguins mate with the same partner. However, there are a few of them, about 25%, that may change partners annually. The usual life expectancy of a little penguin is seven years, and at three years old, they are mature enough to start having babies.
Both Parents Incubate Eggs
For little penguins, incubation is not a job for one gender like in other animal species. Both sexes share the incubation duties during the 35 days.
Penguin chicks are born unable to lift their heads due to extreme weakness. At one week of age, their eyes begin to open.
Around 15 days after hatching, one of the parents will stay with the chick while the other goes out to find food. Afterward, both parents leave the children at home to go hunting.
Once the chicks reach the age of 8 or 9 weeks, they leave the nest and go out to sea. Little penguin chicks are often a brownish color before they leave the nest (a process known as fledging). Later on, they mature into an appearance that’s comparable to that of an adult but a shade or two less vibrant.
Little penguins are indeed beautiful cute creatures. To have a fantastic close encounter with these animals, you must book a trip to Montague Island and see things for yourself. If you are up for some penguin adventure and want to learn more about these cute animals, you can book a penguin tour now.