How Fast Can a Penguin Run?

The typical speed of a penguin is 5.6 mph. You can find some species of penguins that can go 4 to 7 mph underwater. Their usual waddles are fairly slow, averaging around two miles (3.2 kilometers) per hour. The Gentoo penguin is the fastest creature, capable of speeds of up to 22 mph.

Penguins have short yet strong legs. Thus, they can’t run at breakneck speeds like other animals. Let’s discover more about the running rates of penguins in this article!

Are Penguins Fast? (How Fast Can a Penguin Run)

No, penguins are not fast creatures. With their short legs and small webbed feet, they can only waddle at only 1.5 miles per hour.


Research suggests that waddling is a way of conserving energy and burning fewer calories compared with walking.

On the other hand, when frightened, penguins can run at 2 miles per hour, but because of their small body structure, they cannot retain this pace for longer periods.

Apart from running, penguins have other ways of moving from one place to another, including tobogganing or hopping. For instance, rockhopper penguins can jump up to a height of 16 to 18 inches.

Did you know? Penguins use their bellies to slide on ice, using their feet and flippers to propel, steer and brake their bodies. They can toboggan at exceptional speeds. ~

How Fast Can an Emperor Penguin Run?

Emperor penguins are the largest penguin species, with an average weight of 22 to 45 kg and a height of 100cm in length. Their average running speed is around 3.7 – 5.6 mph.

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Despite their relatively large size, emperor penguins do not hop like their cousins, Rockhopper penguins, and they walk slowly.

The largest recorded walking speed of emperor penguins is 1.7 miles per hour. The fastest speed recorded for an emperor penguin in the water was 14.4 kilometers per hour (8.9 miles per hour) (6.7 mph). ~

They can run at speeds if they find a good slope. They prefer sliding down slopes on their bellies.

How Fast Does a King Penguin Run?

Despite being the second largest penguin on earth, king penguins are slow creatures who waddle around at low speeds.

King penguins typically use their bills and tails to aid in climbing up steep mountains. They walk with short steps or hops.

Even though they are not quick runners, they are exceptional swimmers who can reach a maximum speed of 7.6 miles per hour. ~

How Fast Does a Gentoo Penguin Run?

Gentoos are the fastest-swimming penguin species in the world. They can swim at speeds of up to 22 miles per hour thanks to their paddle-like feet and streamlined bodies.

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They can stay underwater for up to 7 minutes and dive to remarkable depths of as low as 655 feet.

Does that mean they are fast runners? No, gentoo penguins are not fast runners, just like the other penguin species.

Can Penguins Run Faster Than Humans?

No, penguins cannot outrun humans since they are slow creatures who can attain speeds of only 1.5 miles per hour while waddling.


Penguins point their beaks and their eyes downward while walking. Their streamlined bodies and tails help them walk, hop, and waddle, while their webbed feet are positioned far back on the body, which allows them to stand upright.

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Despite these adaptations, even the fastest penguin, i.e. gentoo penguins, can barely run as fast as a human.

Are Penguins Faster Than Sharks?


Gentoos are the fastest penguins who can swim at 22 miles per hour. This speed is quite close to the maximum speed of great white sharks. King penguins, on the other hand, can attain speeds of 20 miles per hour.

However, none of them can swim faster than sharks. For example, great white sharks swim at 25 to 30 miles per hour which is way faster than the quickest burst of speed for penguins.

Note: According to marine journals, the highest speed of sharks is 60 miles per hour. They are known as the fastest swimmers or runners among most other fish and marine mammals.

Can Penguins Swim Four Times Faster Than Humans?

The average swimming speed for humans is 2 miles per hour, meaning the average swimmer takes 56 seconds to swim a 50-meter-long pool.

However, the fastest swimming speed ever recorded for a human is 4.71 miles per hour.

On the other hand, penguins can swim at an average speed of 15 miles per hour.

Comparing this with the fastest human swimming speed, we can say that penguins swim four times (Plus) faster than humans. Mathematically, it is close to 8 times faster than humans.


How long do gentoo penguins live?

The average lifespan of gentoo penguins is about 13 years. However, most gentoo penguins die within the first year of life.  This leaves them with a 30 to 50 percent chance of surviving in the second year of their lives.

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Did penguins once fly?

Yes, penguins could fly once; however, they lost this ability and became adept swimmers instead. This is because flying requires more energy than staying on land.


Penguins acquire their food from the sea, feeding on fish, squid, and krill. They are quite exceptional swimmers, however not very fast on land.

These small creatures, with their short legs and black tuxedos, cannot run at fast speeds. Apart from rockhopper penguins, these creatures don’t hop and walk at very low speeds.

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