Did You Know? Incredible Rockhopper Penguin Facts

One of the best rockhopper penguin facts is that they are the smallest species of crested penguins.

The rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome) is a rare penguin species. They are very rare species to be  found and they are the smallest species of crested penguins in the world. They also come into the category of the most aggressive penguins in the world! There are three species of rockhopper penguin in the world. They are the northern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi), the southern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome), and the eastern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome filholi).

A rockhopper penguin has bright red eyes and a long black and yellow feather-like crest, making them unique from other penguins. Scientists researched these bright red eyes and concluded that their bright red eyes are most probably part of the social signaling that takes place among the birds.

The breeding season and cycle of a rockhopper penguin is more variable than it is for other penguins. The female rockhopper penguin lays two eggs which are protected by both parents. These parents will protect their rockhopper penguin eggs from the time they are laid until the chicks are old enough to survive on their own. Predators of rockhopper penguins include sea animals and other birds like killer whales, sea lions, and fur seals.

Here on our page, we have lots of interesting facts on the rockhopper penguin that you might enjoy. Let's have a look at these rockhopper penguin facts, and if you like these, then do also read our king penguin and Adélie penguin facts.

Rockhopper Penguin

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Krill, crustaceans, and squid

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

5.5–6.6 lb (2.5–3 kg)

How long are they?

16–18 in (41–46 cm)

How tall are they?

20 in (50.8 cm)

What do they look like?

Black and white with pink feet and orange beaks

Skin Type

Smooth and feathered

What are their main threats?

Humans, sea lions, oil spills, and fur seals

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them

Cool temperate islands and offshore islands


Antarctica and New Zealand





Scientific Name

Eudyptes chrysocome





Rockhopper Penguin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a rockhopper penguin?

The rockhopper penguin is a penguin species. Rockhopper penguins are the smallest species of crested penguins in the world.

What class of animal does a rockhopper penguin belong to?

The rockhopper penguin species falls in the category of birds. They belong to the class Aves and the order Sphenisciformes.

How many rockhopper penguins are there in the world?

The estimated world population of rockhopper penguins is 1.5 million. Their population decreased gradually in the early 20th century, and it is estimated that they have decreased by 30% in the last 30 years. There are only three species of Rockhopper Penguins are there in the world, which are the southern Rockhopper Penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome), the Northern Rockhopper Penguins (Eudyptes moseleyi), and the Eastern Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome filholi).

Where do rockhopper penguins live?

Rockhoppers are usually found in cool temperate islands and offshore islands. They live in cold climates like the Indian Ocean, Antarctica, New Zealand, the Falkland Islands, and Tristan da Cunha Island in the South Atlantic Ocean. They are also found on Prince Edward Island in Canada.

What is a rockhopper penguin's habitat?

The typical rockhopper penguin habitat involves rocky shores where they dig their burrows and make their nests. They like to live on cool temperate islands near the Indian Ocean or Antarctica and can also be found on the Falkland Islands and on Tristan da Cunha Island.

Who do rockhopper penguins live with?

Rockhoppers tend to live with their own kind. They are found in breeding colonies which can include hundreds of thousands of penguins altogether. These charismatic penguins live in colonies and form breeding pairs in Antarctica, New Zealand, and numerous other regions and islands.

How long does a rockhopper penguin live?

The typical rockhopper penguin life cycle lasts between 10 and 20 years. The toughest battle for their survival is usually in the first year of their life, only 30-40% of rockhopper penguins will survive this first year and make it to the next year.

How do they reproduce?

Rockhopper penguin mating is a little unique as they usually breed with the same partner every year throughout their life. That is why they can be described as monogamous animals. Their breeding period lasts from early spring to late summer and they usually breed in their vast colonies. After the mating process is complete, a female penguin lays two eggs which both parents take turns incubating. They incubate and guard these eggs for months. The second egg is always smaller than the first and when the eggs hatch the parents take care of the chicks, feeding them and teaching them to survive alone one day

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN, the rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome) is classified as Vulnerable when it comes to conservation. This means the rockhopper penguin population is decreasing year by year. Oil spills, such as a large accident in 2011, are one main reason for their population decreasing as this incident alone resulted in hundreds of thousands of rockhopper penguins becoming covered with thick oil, eventually causing them to die.

Rockhopper Penguin Fun Facts

What do rockhopper penguins look like?

Eudyptes chrysocome penguins, commonly known as rockhopper penguins have a black body with a white belly like most other penguins. The unique feature which they have that differentiates them from the penguins is their orange beak and red eyes, their pink feet and their cute black and yellow spiky feathers which look like a crest on their head.

Rockhopper penguins have a unique and cute black and yellow feather-like crest on their head and red eyes.

How cute are they?

The rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome) is very cute. Their cute black and yellow feather-like crests on their heads are certainly one of the best parts of these penguins' appearance. In a battle of macaroni penguin vs rockhopper penguin cuteness, we think the rockhopper penguin would win! Have you ever seen a rockhopper penguin, perhaps at the zoo?

How do they communicate?

Rockhopper penguins communicate with the help of a squawking vocalization and they also perform certain physical behaviors, called displays. They make use of these vocals and visual displays to communicate nesting duties, for partner and chick recognition, mating information, and defense against intruders. They also communicate by shaking their heads, bowing, and preening.

How big is a rockhopper penguin?

A rockhopper penguin is five times bigger than a common cat. The average rockhopper penguin height can be around 20 in (50.8 cm) and they are normally between 16-18 in (41–46 cm) in length.

How fast can a rockhopper penguin swim?

Rockhoppers can swim up to 4.3 mph (7 kmph). Both the eastern rockhopper and southern rockhopper penguin can dive up to 160 ft (48.8 m) deep.

How much does a rockhopper penguin weigh?

The weight of a rockhopper penguin varies between 5.5-6.6 lb (2.5-3 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no different names for male and female rockhoppers.

What would you call a baby rockhopper penguin?

A baby rockhopper penguin is called a rockhopper chick. When their eggs hatch both members of the breeding pairs of southern eastern and northern rockhopper penguins teach their rockhopper chicks the tricks of life and how to save themselves from predators.

What do rockhopper penguins eat?

Rockhoppers eat a mix of small fishes, crustaceans, krill, and squid. They are often called opportunistic hunters as they chase multiple small preys at the same time. Their diet normally is made up of 15% of krill.

Are they aggressive?

Rockhopper penguins are quite aggressive in nature. They are the most aggressive penguins in the world but they are short-tempered and get irritated easily. These penguins often get aggressive with each other and fight with each other, usually for mating rights, food, and nesting sites.

Would they make a good pet?

Eastern, northern,  and southern rockhopper penguins cannot be kept as pets. They cannot live alone and always live with thousands of other penguins. They are perfectly adapted to live in an open environment and cannot be confined in one place. It goes to say that humans cannot provide rockhoppers with a similar environment to the one in which they are adapted to live. As a result, they cannot be kept as human pets.

Did you know...

The word 'Eudyptes' is derived from the Greek language which means a 'good diver' and the word 'Chrysocome' means 'golden hair'.

When a rockhopper is young, it has a black beak and as he matures and grows older, the beak starts turning orange.

Why are they called rockhopper penguins?

Southern, eastern, and northern rockhopper penguins get their common name 'rockhopper' due to their behavior, which is different from that of many other penguins. Rockhoppers do not like to slide around on the ice on their white bellies (something which almost all other penguin species like to do) Instead, rockhoppers like to hop on the rocky shores in their colonies, especially in the southern hemisphere in cool temperate zones.

Why do rockhopper penguins lay two eggs?

Southern, eastern, and northern rockhopper penguins always lay two eggs. The second egg is known as the reassurance egg because the first year of the penguin's life is very difficult and they often sadly die. Rockhopper penguins, therefore, lay two eggs so that if one chick dies, they will still have another one.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the chinstrap penguin, or African penguin.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Rockhopper penguin coloring pages.



At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.

Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.

Sponsorship & Advertising Policy

Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.

We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.

Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Read our Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Get The Kidadl Newsletter

1,000 of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

Thank you! Your newsletter will be with you soon.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No items found.
No items found.