As far as population genetics is concerned, gorillas are considered by scientists as one of the few species of great apes that are closely related to humans. What are great apes by the way? What are their differences with monkeys?
Great apes are monkey relatives but they differ in size, posture, the presence of tails, and the size of brains. Great apes which include gorillas are larger in size. They are able to walk upright for hours. Unlike monkeys, gorillas have no tails and they have more sophisticated brains and thinking abilities.
Most of us have observed gorillas at a local zoo or watched TV shows or online videos featuring gorillas. Have you ever wondered what do gorillas eat? This article aims to answer basic facts about gorillas’ diet. We will also answer some basic questions about this huge, powerful creature, such as:
- What are the different types of gorillas?
- What do gorillas eat?
- Do gorillas eat meat?
- Where do gorillas live?
- How long do gorillas live?
- Are gorillas endangered?
We have also listed some awesome facts about gorillas that you might be interested in. So join us while we explore the world of gorillas!
What are the different types of gorillas?
The term gorilla refers to a particular species of the hominid family chordates. Gorilla has been subdivided into three different subspecies namely:
Western lowland gorilla or scientifically known as the gorilla. Western lowland gorilla is considered to be the smallest among the gorilla species. An adult male lowland gorilla weighs around 396 pounds or 180 kilograms.
This type of gorilla is native to the West African tropical forests. One of the remarkable things about lowland gorillas is that they all look almost the same. Among the different types of gorilla, the lowland gorilla is the most popular among zoo gorillas all over the world.
Eastern lowland gorilla or scientifically named as gorilla graueri. This type of lowland gorilla is a little bit larger than its western cousin. The eastern lowland gorilla can weigh up to 484 pounds equivalent to 220 kilograms. They are also larger compared to western lowland gorillas. This type of gorilla is abundant in the Central African forests.
Mountain gorilla or the gorilla beringei. The mountain gorilla is considered to be the largest yet the rarest among the gorilla types. The adult male mountain gorilla can weigh over 500 pounds or almost 227 kilograms!
This gorilla subspecies has longer and darker hair because of the colder climate in its habitat which is on the mountain. This gorilla subspecies is more “handsome” compared to its lowland cousins.
They are taller and the gap on their middle nose is wider. Also, mountain gorillas don’t have pinkish hair patches on the head portion, unlike their lowland counterparts.
What do gorillas eat?
So what are foods do gorillas love to eat? Well, as far as their diet is concerned, we really can’t generalize.
Yes, gorillas are generally herbivores, meaning they consume plant materials in order to survive. But to be specific, the gorilla’s diet depends on what subspecies is in question and the season of the year.
For western lowland gorillas, they can consume almost all of the plant species available in its sight. According to experts, they consume about 67% fruit, 17% are other plant materials such as leaves and stems and the remaining 3% are insects such as termites, ants, and caterpillars.
Eastern lowland gorillas, on the other hand, are quite specific when it comes to the plants that they eat. Experts have identified 104 species of plants that they consume in parts.
The mountain gorilla’s diet is consists of 86% plant materials such as leaves, stems, and shoots. They also eat roots which consist the 7% and flowers at 2% of their diet. Scientists named at least 142 species of plants and only 3 kinds of fruit.
As we have said earlier, gorillas are herbivores so they can survive eating plant materials such as leaves, stems, shoots, roots, flowers, and fruits. However, these materials are of low nutrient contents so they are obliged to eat a vast quantity of plants every day to sustain their body.
For example, an adult gorilla consumes more or less than 40 pounds of plant materials per day, which is equivalent to 18 kilograms. Because they consume vegetation that is watery (50% is water), gorillas seldom drink water directly from a source. Gorillas also get water from dewdrops collected on leaf surfaces.
How do gorillas get their food? They use their incredible strength in tearing apart vegetation. Because they are considered to be selective eaters, gorillas usually eat some parts of a certain plant like leaves, stalk, stem, or pith and leave off other parts undamaged. They usually get their food in a manner that the plant will easily recover from the foraging damage.
Do gorillas eat meat?
We know that gorillas are herbivores and their diet consists mainly of vegetation. The question is: Where do gorillas get protein? Do gorillas eat meat? The answer is no, gorillas don’t eat meat.
So how do they satisfy the need to eat protein foods? Gorillas eat bugs like ants, termites, and caterpillars. Insects are a good source of protein for gorillas.
Where do gorillas live?
Gorillas are terrestrial animals. They love to dwell in forests, abandoned fields, swampy areas, and lowlands.
Although you can always see gorillas at the zoo, its population in the wild is concentrated in African countries such as Central Africa, Cameroon, Congo, Guinea, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda.
How long do gorillas live?
In general, gorillas have a life span of 40 to 45 years, although some can make it up to 50 years. When these animals hit the age of 35, gorillas begin to suffer from aging. Signs of aging among these animals include arthritis, teeth loss, difficulty in moving, and seclusion away from the group.
Are gorillas endangered?
Gorillas are one of the animal types that caught the attention of wildlife conservation groups all around the world.
Although not all gorillas subspecies are declared endangered, their population has been severely devastated because of human activities for the past several decades.
Among the subspecies, the mountain gorilla is considered to be the most endangered type of gorilla. This is attributed to several anthropogenic activities such as poaching, war, and forest denudation.