You may have wondered how penguins deal with this situation, as one of your coldest places is your feet.
Although our minds lead us to those who live in the Antarctic tundra; there are many penguin species and freezing of their feet is not a problem for every penguin. In fact, some penguin species live at the equator and need to cool their feet to cope with the heat. For example;Galapagos penguins living in the equator.
Freezing is not a problem for poor penguins living in snow and ice. Most of their bodies are covered with waterproof feathers; this keeps them warm even in the cold of the freezing breezes of the poles. Emperor penguins, probably the most well-known species, have the most feather density, with 15 feathers per square centimeter. Underneath these comfortable feathers is a layer of fat that acts like an additional blanket. Thanks to these two layers, penguins can stay warm.
this heat alone can escape from two areas of penguins: beak and feet. that’s actually a good thing. By having areas where heat can escape, penguins can adjust their temperature and prevent their body temperature from getting too hot. Apart from providing temperature control, there are other reasons why penguins are barefoot. They are able to hold ice and give direction while swimming thanks to their barefoot.
Let’s go back to our question: why don’t penguins’ feet freeze?
We can answer this question generally as follows: penguins have a highly developed circulatory system by which they can control the temperature of their feet. The veins in penguins’ legs can adjust the blood flow depending on the temperature. These veins slow the blood flow if the feet are cold; meaning that relatively little blood has to circulate, which prevents the penguin from losing heat and keeps it warm. If the penguin’s feet are warm, the opposite happens and the veins provide more blood flow to the feet, causing them to cool.
Besides this built-in insulating mechanism, penguins could control their temperature in a more primitive way. They warm each other by moving in masses, adhering to each other.
Also, sometimes they lay themselves on the ground on their back, sit on their tails and cut off their feet from the ice.
With these temperature adjustments, penguins’ feet are kept a few degrees above freezing temperature, not above this temperature so they don’t have to waste energy to warm their feet. If they are not much hotter than normal, then it is necessary to lower that temperature.
Energy is of primary concern to male emperor penguins that incubate for 64 days. during this time they stop away from the beach, without eating anything. Therefore, it is a vital necessity for them not to lose heat and conserve their energy. The good news is that their circulatory systems can prevent them from freezing their feet, unless the fat they store is depleted with what they eat on time.