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Who’s that creepy little guy wandering around your backyard in the dark? If you live on the coast of New Zealand or the south shore of Australia, then it’s probably the world’s smallest penguin. Appropriately named the Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor novaehollandia), but also known as fairy penguin or blue penguin, it stands only one foot tall and couldn’t even reach high enough to peck you in the kneecap.

world's smallest penguin, the Blue penguin or fairy penguin

Little Penguin (aka Blue Penguin) in Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island, South Australia


Compare that to the world’s biggest penguin, the Emperor, who is four times as tall, and you will see that this guy is truly a shrimp among his penguin cousins.

I photographed this little fellow sneaking around in a suburban backyard in Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island in South Australia. What is he doing wandering around in the dark? Little Penguins are considered the most nocturnal of the penguins and can often be seen returning to their burrows at dusk after a day spent foraging at sea. In towns like Penneshaw, many little blue penguins have picked up the habit of building burrows under homes and foundations when natural burrowing areas are scarce.

This little penguin has a particularly funny look on his face as I caught him in the act of returning to his little hidey-hole.

Have you ever seen the smallest penguin in the world?