What Do Mountain Gorillas Eat?

Mountain gorillas are the largest primates in the  World. This makes many guests of Gorilla safaris and gorilla trekking wonder what these primates eat and how much they eat.

Because mountain gorillas are mainly vegetarian and because of their impressive size they need a lot of food to be able to survive.

What Do Mountain Gorillas Eat

What Do Mountain Gorillas Eat

Mountain gorilla diet

A mountain gorilla is a herbivore which means that its diet mainly consists of plants. In Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a great variety of plants that the mountain gorillas feed on, over 140 different plant species that are edible for mountain gorillas.

Over 85% of their diet consists of leaves, buds, seeds and stems of these plants. A common thought by gorilla safari and gorilla trekking guests is that mountain gorillas must eat lots of fruits like bananas and more. But due to the high altitude where the mountain gorillas live there are almost no fruit trees and this makes that only 2% of a gorilla’s diet consist of fruits. Another mentionable part of their diet is edible roots that come together to about 7% of their daily diet. Then the rest of their diet is supplemented by ants, snails and other small insects to take in the extra protein needed in their diet.

How do mountain gorillas drink?

A mountain gorilla will rarely drink any water as they obtain most of their hydration from leaves and other plants that are rich in water. Also the morning dew is a supplement of their daily water intake. Another benefit for the mountain gorillas is that because of the lower temperature due to altitude and their calm movements throughout the day makes them not waste any water to sweat. In the rare case that a mountain gorilla drinks water they use their hair to absorb the water which they can suck out for hydration.

How much food do mountain gorillas eat?

An adult female mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can eat around 18 kilograms of food each day. Whereas the male silverback gorilla eats up to 34 kilograms of food each day. The male silverback gorilla can eat almost twice as much as the female mountain gorilla due to its bigger size which requires extra energy throughout the day. Mountain gorillas are the largest primates in the world and because their food consists of low energy food such as leaves, stems, and buds it forces them to eat these absurd amounts on a daily basis.

How do young mountain gorillas eat?

Infant mountain gorillas are not born with teeth. Like all other mammals, newborn mountain gorillas feed by drinking their mother’s milk for the first 3 months of their life. After the first three months young gorillas start being fed solid foods by their mother for the first 3 years of their life. After that point they can begin eating the same diet as an adult mountain gorilla.

At the age of 8 they can eat and digest all the food an adult mountain gorilla can.

What Do Mountain Gorillas Eat

What Do Mountain Gorillas Eat

Methods of Collecting Food

Mountain Gorillas have incredible strength, they can use this strength to break and open plants. Once the plant is opened they can use their fingers and teeth to get to the area of the plant they want to eat. The mountain gorilla is a very distinctive eater. They will almost always eat parts of the plant and never the whole thing. As mentioned earlier their diet consists of leaves, buds, seeds and stems of a plant.

They also have the amazing ability to agile their lips to only get to the area of the plant they want to consume. Because a mountain gorilla doesn’t eat a whole plant they leave next to no impact on the environment around them. If a mountain gorilla has been consuming the leaves of one plant they will not eat the roots of that same plant but will eat one nearby. In this way the plants can regrow and can be used for consumption by the gorillas in the future. Another way mountain gorillas conserve their environment is by not over eating in specific areas. This will allow the vegetation to quickly replenish. There rarely used method of drinking is to soak the back of there hairy hand with water. Which they will then suck out for hydration.

Mountain gorillas’ eating habits

A mountain gorilla spends about 30% of their day eating and 20% moving and looking for new food. A mountain gorilla’s first objective of the day is to find a spot full of fresh and nutritious plants to spend their morning eating and resting.

The dominant silverback will lead the group to an area with plenty of food so that the whole group can eat. The day of a mountain gorilla consists of 2 main eating times, 3 to 4 hours in the morning and after their midday rest an eating period in the late afternoon. During the heat of the day they will rest and socially interact with eachother. Every family of mountain gorillas will eat in its own area entering another group’s area is rare and can lead to fights as a silverback gorilla protects his own family and shows dominance to keep its females in his group.

How are mountain gorillas so strong whilst being herbivores

A mountain gorilla is seen as the strongest and most impressive primate on this planet. Yet their diet mainly consists of vegetation. How do mountain gorillas become so strong is a question many might ask. As mentioned in this article mountain gorillas eat massive amounts of food on a daily basis. This in combination with difficult movement throughout the Bwindi forest helps the gorilla develop their impressive body’s. But the main reason why gorillas have such a muscular and impressive body is because of their amazing DNA and bone structure. In particular their arm are made to be able to survive and move trough this impenetrable rainforest.

Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi

Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi

Common sights gorilla trekking

As a gorilla safari / gorilla trekking usually starts in the morning it is most likely that the gorillas will be spotted during their morning feed. This is one of the best times to have an entertaining gorilla experience. In the Bwindi national park it is even possible to do a gorilla habituation experience. This means that a guest will be able to follow the gorilla for four hours. Which means a guest will most likely see a mountain gorilla feeding, playing and resting.