Rockhopper penguins are one of the smaller species of penguins. After they reach full growth, they can reach approximately 20 inches or 50 centimeters in height and 2-3 kg weight. The rockhopper penguin’s feed consists of krill and small crustaceans, which can include crabs, crayfish, lobsters, or shrimp, as well as squid and myctophid fish.

Males and females differ in body size and size of their bill, generally, males are larger and have a thicker bill. Some of the features that set them apart from the other penguins are their red eyes, pink webbed feet, orange beak, and the black and yellow spiky feathers on their heads. Males and females can’t be visually distinguished, which is why a DNA test is performed by removing a feather from the bird to determine its gender.

Rockhopper Penguin Facts

  • Rockhopper penguins can be split into three species (southern, northern, and eastern), while others consider them one species.
  • Southern rockhoppers are smaller than northern rockhoppers.
  • These penguins mate for life.
  • There are an estimated 1.5 million rockhopper penguin pairs worldwide.
  • These penguins can dive up to 330 feet in search of prey at sea.
  • They are known for their bright red eyes, pink webbed feet, and the black and yellow spiky feathers on their heads.
  • The southern rockhopper penguins are found in some parts of South America, northern rockhopper penguins are found in southern Indian and Atlantic Oceans, whereas, the eastern rockhopper penguins are found in the southern Indian and the Pacific ocean.

Species of Rockhopper Penguin

The rockhopper penguin can be split into three species

  • Southern Rockhopper Penguins
  • Northern Rockhopper Penguins
  • Eastern Rockhopper Penguins
Southern Rockhopper Penguin
Northern Rockhopper Penguin
Eastern Rockhopper Penguin

Southern Rockhopper Penguins – Southern rockhopper penguins are native in some parts of South America which have short beaks and red eyes. Southern rockhoppers are smaller than northern rockhoppers. The average lifespan is about 10 years.

Northern Rockhopper Penguins – Northern rockhopper penguins are native to the southern Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Approximately 85 percent of the Northern Rockhopper Penguins are found in the South Atlantic Ocean and the remaining 15 percent is found in the Indian Ocean on Amsterdam and St. Paul islands. Whereas, the northern rockhopper penguin is larger than its southern rockhopper penguin counterpart and has longer wings.

Eastern Rockhopper Penguins – The eastern rockhopper penguin is a small crested penguin with a black back and throat, white belly, and pink feet. It is one of the smallest crested penguins, with distinctive pink margins around its beak. This rested rockhopper penguin with yellow feathers on the crest. The eastern rockhopper penguins are native to the southern Indian and the Pacific ocean from the Prince Edward Islands to Antipodes Islands. This seabird is about 45–55 cm in length and weighs 2.2–4.3 kg.

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