Have you ever wondered what a hungry, wild-looking animal like the gorilla eats?
You might picture him gobbling a banana or perhaps munching on some leaves in his habitat, but have you ever thought about what a gorilla’s diet includes?
Do Gorillas Eat Meat or Vegetables?
So what do gorillas eat? Well, it’s not too dissimilar to what a human dines on! Gorillas have a mainly vegeterian diet, meaning they don’t really eat meat.
These apes instead eat plenty of leaves, bamboo shoots, fruits, herbs, stems and seeds.
When we say ‘gorilla’, this includes the many varieties of the species including for example the mountain gorilla and Western lowland gorillas.
However, there are some variations between these in terms of what they eat and the proportions of plants to fruit, for example. We’ll explore these later.
An adult gorilla (male or female) can consume up to a significant 40 pounds (18 kilos) of vegetation like trees each and every day – wow! Imagine consuming that many leaves, flowers and stems during your life?
Something they don’t have to worry about is how to source the food. Because gorillas are famously strong, they can break apart plants and trees with ease.
The mighty gorilla can get to exactly what he needs simply by using those fiercely strong arms! That may involve taking apart a banana tree, or the stalks or roots of a plant.
However, they don’t just eat anything and everything – they are actually very selective and again use their strength to get to the exact part of the plant or tree they wish to eat, first stripping away the other parts they don’t need.
You can just imagine them dismantling a banana tree or group of plants in a rainforest somewhere. Or a group of mountain gorillas working together to fell a tree high up in the hills!
Differences Between Species
There are some variations between the subspecies of gorilla when it comes to what they eat and in what proportions they eat different foods.
Here are some examples:
- Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla): Just under 70% of this gorilla’s diet is fruit. The remaining 30% or so is made up of stems, leaves, seeds and tiny caterpillars and termites.
- Eastern lowland (Gorilla beringei graueri): They eat every part of a plant, including the roots, flowers, leaves and even the bark.
- Mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei): These gorillas eat very little fruit, simply because they live high in the mountains where – as you can imagine – there is very little fruit available! Instead, around 86% of their diet is made up of the leaves, shoots and stems of plants. They also eat a small quantity of flowers, fruits and insects such ants and grubs.