Do Penguins Have Nipples? [Explained]

No, the penguins don’t exactly have nipples because they are birds, not mammals. They have a special gland called a crop to feed their babies. The crop produces high protein and fat-containing milk. This milk goes into the breast and comes out of the body through the pores of the breast feathers.

Penguins are unique in this respect in that the male and female both take care of the babies. They share the burden and are side by side in all the tasks. It is due to many different reasons. To know more about penguins’ anatomy and feeding habits, stay tuned and follow the trail!

Do Penguins Have Nipples? Why Don’t They Have Nipples?

Apparently and inwardly, they don’t have nipples. As you read about the ears of penguins, which have no external flap, but inside, a complete hearing mechanism exists.

Penguins don’t have nipples; why? It is because they are one of those flightless birds that regurgitate crop milk in the mouths of their young.

Crop milk is a high-fat and protein milk-like substance that is produced in the crop. Penguins help their young to survive through crop milk. This is transferred to them through their parents’ mouths. The image below gives an idea of the origin of crop milk.

Plus, penguins have the unique bird feature of reproduction. They lay eggs, unlike mammals and hatch the eggs for the final product. And it is the crop milk that is first given to the baby, not breast milk.

Do Male Penguins Have Nipples?

No, they don’t have them, as penguins are not supposed to be mammals that feed milk to their young. The males, though, go side by side with the females to breed the young. They hatch the egg, bring food, and provide shelter and warmth to the young in the same way the female does. 

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Here, what is important to mention is the penguin’s capability to swallow the fish and krill unchewed and provide it to the babies. You can know it better through 3 methods :

Penguin internal anatomy | Source:
  • Regurgitation— partially digesting food and coughing it out for the young
  • Refrigeration — Keeping the whole food in the stomach with enzymes to keep  it undigested for the young to utilize
  • Penguin Milk —  producing a fatty and protein-containing milk-type substance in the crop.

Thus, the above-mentioned processes involve both male and female penguins. So the male and female penguins commonly don’t need nipples to feed their babies. 

Do Penguins Have Breasts? Do They Produce Milk In Mammary Glands?


Have a look at the beautiful image of the king penguins in the water. The orange-yellow patch on the chest is what tells you what their breasts look like.

So yes, they have breasts, but they are not for feeding purposes. The penguins’ breasts help them propel and swim fast. The streamlining of the body includes the breasts swimming faster to grab the prey underwater.

Here we know the second thing the mammary glands or the breast of penguins do not produce milk but help penguins swim. It is the crop milk that is produced inside the penguin’s body.

Do Penguins Give Milk to Their Young?

The penguins do give milk to their young. The milk is from the crop, which is a milk-like substance having proteins and fats. It has the same or more health benefits as the milk produced by the mammary glands of other animals.

penguin feeding
Penguin is giving milk to the young

After the birth of the young, the female penguin sets out hunting and then it is the turn of the male penguin to take care of the baby.

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It’s the same time when the male penguin secretes crop milk to feed the baby for nourishment. The milk ensures the survival of the baby in the absence of mama penguins.

How Do Penguins Transfer Milk to Young’s Mouths?

Here is a video on how the chinstrap penguin feeds its baby after birth. The babies are naive and dependent and receive food from their parents’ mouths. The sight may seem sweet to many or awkward to others too.

But no doubt, it is an amazing sight to see enriching feed coming fresh from the bodies of the penguins.

The young peek their beaks in the mouths of mama or daddy penguins, looking upwards. They seek the food out and gobble it up inside. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do penguins have babies?

Penguins lay eggs, so they don’t fall under the category of mammals. Marine birds have mixed-up features, including some for which they have special adaptations. Both parents take care of the young, and they can recognize their own baby to feed it alone.

Do penguins feed their babies?

Yes, the penguins feed their babies. The feed includes the swallowed-up food of fish and krill and the crop milk for the infants. Both parents share the burden and feed the regurgitated food to the babies. 

Do penguins breastfeed?

Penguins do not breastfeed their babies, as they don’t have nipples or mammary glands. These glands of the penguins weren’t developed for the said purpose.


Watching the cute sight of a baby penguin sucking mama penguin’s milk? Nahh! Not a thinkable idea. No nipples on penguin breasts, and no such activity proceeds.

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Yes, you can have the unique feat of a baby penguin sticking up its beak in the giant beak of its mother or father, taking crop milk at the very birth.

The milky substance provides babies with all the necessary nutrients, along with immune-building properties with antioxidants and antibodies for survival.

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