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Facts about Mountain Gorilla Diet

Facts about Mountain Gorilla Diet 

Mountain Gorillas are endangered animal species, these gentle giants are also rare species only found in two populations in the forests of Virunga Conservation Area in Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

The second gorilla population is found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and is the biggest gorilla population in the world as it half of world’s gorilla population. 

Mountain gorilla feeding habits
Mountain gorilla feeding habits

Mountain gorillas are the biggest primate alive, because of there huge size they eat a lot to exist. The diet of mountain gorillas consists primarily of plant life, mountain gorillas are known to consume around 142 plant species including leaves, shoots and stems making up over 86% of their diet. 

In the diet of Mountain Gorillas, edible roots account for 7%, flowers – 3% and fruits – 2%. Mountain gorillas live at high altitudes in the mountains and because of this, they can ingest far less fruit than the fellow gorillas – The Lowland Gorillas whose diet is mostly made of fruits. 

Gorillas are categorized into two species, each of which has two subspecies. 

  • The western gorillas are classified into two subspecies that is the Cross River gorillas and Western Lowland gorillas
  • The eastern gorilla is classified into two subspecies that is mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas. 

What do Mountain Gorillas Eat?

Gorillas are herbivores feeding mostly on green plants such as stems, flowers, buds, barks, seeds, bamboo shoots, fruits, grasses, vines, herbs, roots, leaves and young branches.

Also, gorillas can ingest ash and dirt as a way to regulate their digestive system, neutralize harmful compounds contained in some of the plants they eat and supplement their diet with nutrients that are not found in the plants they eat. 

To obtained proteins, mountains can also eat insects such as ants, snails, caterpillars and termites among others. Mountain gorillas are also reported to eat ants, snails and grubs on occasion and making up 2% of their diet. 

Mountain gorillas are scared of water thus do not drink it individually, most of the water they need is basically obtained from the plants and shoots they consume on a daily basis. In this way, they actually get to have a balanced diet. 

Mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda are very different from the lowland gorillas in size. The eating habits of the mountain gorillas are slightly smaller than lowland gorillas and they primarily feed on vegetation or green plants because they live in rain forests at a high altitude that does not support the growth of fruits whereas the lowland gorillas are slightly larger in size and their diet of composed of mostly fruits. 

During the dry season, that is when the fruits tend to fall down quickly. The gorillas adjust by climbing up in the trees to gather the fruits and they are sometimes compelled to consume a lot of seeds and tree banks.

Mountain gorillas live in the rainforests thus consuming over 142 plant species with leaves, stems and bamboo shoots which make up 86% of their diet.

Like humans, gorillas have a set of 32 teeth that they use to chew and digest the plants they eat, with exception of adult gorillas who acquire long pointed canines when they reach maturity and use them to fight other male gorillas.

An adult male gorilla consumes around 30 kilograms of vegetation per day whereas a female gorilla consumes approximately 18 kilograms of vegetation per day

Mountain gorillas seldom drink water since the foliage they eat is very delicate, delicious and juicy storing and providing half of the water required for their survival. Mountain gorillas also get water from the morning mist. 

When feeding, mountain gorillas are very selective so that they do not consume all the vegetation in one area. But rather consume the roots of one plant, eat the stems of another, eat the leaves of another and so on. This way they allow re-growth of the vegetation that they were feeding on because they keep rotating from one place to another. 

Gorillas can move about 3 to 6 kilometers per day looking for food to eat and can also move from one location to another. 

How do Mountain Gorillas Collect their Food?

Mountain gorillas are the largest and most powerful primate in the world, they use their immense power to break apart plants so they may consume their preferred section of the plant. 

Gorillas play a vital role in their ecological niche because they are extremely selective and do not consume all of the plants in the region where they graze, they allow for plant renewal and are continually rotating from one location to another. As a result of their eating habits, they may be replenished quickly. 

Mountain gorillas are discriminating foragers, eating different portions of plants. For example, they may only devour the root of one plant, the steam of another, the leaves and fruit of another plant and so on. 

How Much Food can Mountain Gorillas eat?

Due to their huge bodies, an adult mountain gorilla consumes around 27 kilograms of food each day. Mountain gorillas require more food to provide them more energy.

Gorillas spend most of their time seeking for food or eating, they leave their previous night’s sleeping nests early in the morning and go about the forest looking for a suitable area to feed and rest as well. 

The silverback is in charge of directing the group to a decent location with adequate food for everyone 

Mountain gorillas eat twice a day that is in the morning and at night, the adult gorillas normally relax in between the meals watching the babies play with each other. 

Note: Gorillas do not over feed in one location as they normally move from one location to another. 

Do Mountain Gorilla have eating habits? 

Mountain gorillas practice selective feeding which results in excellent eating habits, they do not overfeed and deplete on area of the forest while they are feeding. Because of the balanced feeding, the plants develop a new soon. 

Mountain gorillas only eat one portion of the plant whose leaves, shoots and stems they consume before moving on to another plant to eat a different part. 

Do Mountain Gorillas eat meat or fish?

Gorillas do not eat meat or fish, since they occasionally consume insects like termites. Their powerful bite is used for both chewing on vegetables and sparring with other animals to defend themselves. 

Do Mountain Gorillas eat Bananas in the wild?

Mountain gorillas do not consume bananas in the wild, this is because they cannot find bananas in the wild. In the dense tree cover in the Bwindi forest where gorillas reside prevents the growth of bananas. 

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