It is common knowledge that penguins are known for their adorable belly antics – sliding across the ice or attempting to climb over boulders with their “wings.” But, what about the penguin that prefers to hop instead of slide? While this particular movement of hopping is not restricted to the Southern Rockhopper Penguin, it is one of the more unique attributes. Ironically – it is the most well-recognized penguin in the world; and yet it is unknown to most people that this particular penguin “hops” instead of sliding across the ice on their bellies.
Habitat and Location
The Southern Rockhopper Penguin lives in the sub-Antarctic areas of the Indian and Pacific oceans, and of course the southern coastlines of South America.
The breeding range for the various subspecies of the Rockhopper Penguin start in Argentina and Chile and range to the Auckland Islands and the Amsterdam Islands, among various other places.
This particular breed of penguin is exceptionally small. They are considered to be one of the smallest of any of the penguin species. The Southern Rockhopper Penguin is yellow crested with the signature black and white body. The penguin boasts a brown beak and will grow anywhere from 18 to 23 inches in length. It will also weigh anywhere from 4 to 8 pounds, making it among the smaller penguin species. It also gives off an evil glow with its brooding red eyes, which peer out from underneath their yellow “eyebrows.”
There are three subspecies of the Rockhopper Penguin: the American Southern Rockhopper Penguin or Eudyptes chrysocome chrysocome; which is found in the South American region. The Indo-Pacific Southern Rockhopper Penguin or Eudyptes chrysocome filholi – which is found in the Indian and Pacific oceans on sub-Antarctic islands. There is also a Northern Rockhopper, or Eudyptes chrysocome moseleyi.
The Southern Rockhopper Penguins are very closely related to both the Royal Penguin and the Macaroni Penguin. It is estimated that there are at least one million breeding pairs of the Rockhopper Penguin.
As with most penguins, the Southern Rockhopper Penguin’s diet consists mostly of fish, mollusks, plankton, krill, octopus, squid and various crustaceans.
Pregnancy And Breeding
For the Rockhopper Penguin, breeding begins in early October. Egg laying begins in early November and the female will produce two eggs. The first egg will be laid 4 to 5 days prior to the second egg; however the first egg will hatch last. The first egg will be considerably smaller than the second egg. It is thought that this is due to help produce at least one healthy chick no matter what the circumstance – however in some penguin species it is rare for both chicks to be looked after.
For approximately 33 days, both parents will take turns incubating the eggs. Contrary to the human world, the male penguin will remain at the nest at the end until the eggs hatch and continue to stay with the baby chicks for the first few weeks while the female penguin hunts for food. At the end of the first few weeks, the chicks will finally be able to leave the lest and begin to interact with other chicks and penguins. This will also allow the parent penguins to find extra food for their baby chicks’ growing appetites.
Baby Rockhopper Penguins do not resemble their adult counterparts in nearly any way. While they are the standard black and white colors – their bills are black instead of brown and they will not carry the yellow markings of their parents for a small period of time. The chicks will also not begin their own breeding cycles until they are at least 4 years of age.
Rockhopper Penguins are among the more aggressive of penguin species. They do not fear people or anything larger than them, which is ironic due to their small stature. They will also protect their chicks from other penguins and any predators or animals that they feel are a threat.
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Mike Bingham; “Rockhopper Penguin”
WikiPedia; “Southern Rockhopper Penguin”