The forest biome is full of wild animals. It is home to thousands of species. Among the several species, a gorilla is one of them. The gorilla is a renowned animal mostly found in central Africa. The term ‘Gorilla’ is itself a genus of animals that portrays numerous species. It is regarded as one of the biggest animals in the world. Having 98% of their DNA similar to humans, gorillas act, behave, walk and eat like a human.
Gorillas and their Habitat
Gorillas are widely divided into two categories: eastern and western Gorillas. Both eastern and western gorillas are found in central Africa. Gorillas that live on the eastern side of central Africa are eastern gorillas. However, gorillas in the west of central Africa are western gorillas. Not only this, zoologists further distinguish the eastern and western gorillas based on zones. Some are mountain gorillas and others are lowland gorillas. According to the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the estimated number of western gorillas is around 316,000 and eastern gorillas are about 5000 in the world. Among the list of endangered species, gorillas are one of them.
What Do Gorillas Eat?
Gorillas are renowned as herbivores as they survive on eating plants. Plants are their basic diet. What gorillas eat mainly depends on the availability of plants or insects in a habitat. The variety of plants depends on the season as well. The central basin of Africa is replete with varieties of wild trees and plants. Among many others, the flora of central Africa includes Mahogany, Ebony, Limba, Wenge, Agba, Iroko, and Sapele. According to studies, an adult gorilla male eats about 30 kg of plants per day, whereas an adult female ingests 18 kg of plants.
What do Mountain Gorillas Eat?
Gorillas living in mountains have a different diet than that of lowland gorillas. In central Africa, the mountainous gorillas live around 7000 to 14000 meters above sea level. At that height, there is a lack of fruit. So, gorillas eat parts of green plants there. They eat plants such as Plumbago, Proteas, Strelitzia, Wildflowers, and Flowering bushes. Research shows that mountain gorillas eat 38 various plant species. There are mainly Galium, thistles, celery, and nettles.
What do Lowland Gorillas Eat?
Lowland has a vast reservoir of fruit species. It has numerous long trees where gorillas get fruits. They also eat roots and seeds. The preferred fruits of lowland gorillas are berries, bananas, and guavas. They also love to eat the leaves of trees. Around 80% of gorillas’ diet is leaves, stems, and shoots. African lowland gorillas also like to feed on bamboo fruit. In the dry season, gorillas survive by eating a few juicy fruits from African rainforests. Zoologists have reported that there are around 200 plant species that are eaten by western gorillas. The plants of ginger and arrowroot families are their favorite feed.
What do Wild, Captive, and Baby Gorillas eat?
As mentioned above, the diet of gorillas is reliable on habitat. Therefore, the nutrition of a gorilla also changes when a gorilla is captive, wild, or a baby gorilla.
Diet of Wild Gorillas
- Fruits and Plants
There are two natural habitats of wild gorillas: mountains and lowlands. It is mentioned above that the food of both categories of gorillas varies from one another. Seasons also play a vital role in gorillas’ regular diet. Western gorillas eat the leaves of a tree and numerous plant species. However, fruit is the common diet of eastern gorillas. 30% of the food of eastern gorillas is reliable on fruits there. Bananas, guava, berries, and cherries are their most liked fruit. Plants that gorillas eat in central Africa include Hibiscus, Succulents, Papyrus, Petunias, Plumbago, Proteas, Strelitzia, Wildflowers, and Flowering bushes.
When there is a lack of a vegetarian diet, wild gorillas consume insects. Commonly, gorillas eat termites, ants, and grubs. When available, the weaver ant (Oecophylla longinoda) is the species gorillas eat frequently. Collectively, this wild animal eats three species of small ants. It is also noted that the wild mountain gorillas fill their appetite by eating invertebrates (insects) regularly. Research by Isra Deblauwe in Cameroon mentions that there is a large quantity of insect-eating gorillas.
Surprisingly, wild gorillas do eat soil as well occasionally. Along with plants, they get minerals from the soil as well. Soil consists of minerals that are not available in plants. Zoologists have found that minerals in soil counter the poisonous elements present in plants and trees.
Diet of Captive Gorillas
Captive gorillas are selective feeders. They are mainly frugivorous, feeding on fruit. Gorillas in amusement parks, zoos, and other bound places eat fruits including bananas, apples, guavas, and berries. These are the common foods consumed by captive gorillas. It is found that a captive gorilla requires food six times a day. A variety of foliage is also part of their diet in zoos. Some zoos also feed gorillas on processed cereals. However, cereals are a rare treat, not a natural diet. As the access to insects is quite less in zoos, captive gorillas hardly have insects to consume.
Diet of Baby Gorillas
A baby gorilla weighs only approximately 4.5 pounds. They are found strong as compared to other baby animals. Mother’s milk is the pivotal diet for baby gorillas. They spend most of their time with their mothers and grip on mothers’ bodies. They wean off mothers’ milk after around two to three years of age. After that period, baby gorillas are considered an adult. They start eating what adult gorillas consume. Fruit, stem, and leaves become their regular diet. However, it is also observed that a few toddler gorillas eat some insects as well.
Some Interesting Facts about Gorillas
- A Powerful Animal: You cannot judge gorillas with their size. Gorillas are ten times more powerful than their actual size.
- A Strong Bite: Lion’s bite force is renowned worldwide. However, a gorilla’s bite force is double that of a lion.
- Unique Nose-prints: Like human beings, gorillas have specific nose prints. Scientists can distinguish gorillas as per their nose-print.
- An Intelligent Animal: Gorillas are considered one of the wisest animals. A female gorilla, KOKO, is renowned for its wit.
- DNA Similar to Human: Studies show that the similarities between human and gorillas’ DNA are more than 95%.
- Less Need for Water: Due to their vegetarian and foliage diet, gorillas get water naturally.
A strong wild animal, the gorilla, finds its diet in fruits, leaves, stems, shoots, and roots. The food of gorillas varies from habitat to habitats such as mountain and lowland. It is commonly found that gorillas are herbivores. However, they eat insects occasionally.