Are Gorillas Omnivores? The Gorilla's Diet Might Surprise You!

Abhijeet Modi
Oct 19, 2023 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Oct 29, 2021
Are Gorillas Omnivores? The Gorilla's Diet Might Surprise You!

The scary-looking gorilla that wanders around the forest is a popular species.

Gorillas are known as the largest living primates. They are gigantic animals that can scare off anyone with their looks.

But in contrast with their appearance, their life and diet are quite non-scary. They don’t even eat meat! They don’t even harm humans unless they feel threatened. Gorillas experience emotions similar to humans and are known for their DNA similarity with us.

Gorillas move around as a family. The family is led by a male among them. They share almost 98% of human DNA, just like monkeys and chimpanzees.

These massive creatures can weigh a great amount and can reach about six feet standing up. The mature male is known as a silverback. A female gorilla gives birth to one baby gorilla in four to six years. This means that the population of gorillas is not growing fast.

Gorillas are divided into an eastern gorilla and western gorilla species. The most interesting fact about these creatures is none of this. It is a fact that gorillas are primarily herbivores.

Shocking! With that massive and scary body, it's hard to imagine them eating leaves and flowers instead of meat. The picture seems too innocent. Although they are primarily herbivores.

Let us dive into more knowledge about the eating habits of gorillas. After you have read all about the eating habits of a mountain gorilla, do read Cross River Gorilla Facts and are hippos omnivores?

Why gorillas are herbivores?

Although gorillas look pretty dangerous and carnivorous in appearance, they actually surprise us with a vegetarian diet. These animals find the vegetarian diet more interesting to consume. Even though they have sharp teeth that eat meat easily, their sharp teeth are related to the vegetarian diet that they have. So, what are the plant foods that they consume?

We actually categorize gorillas as omnivores like humans. This is due to the fact that they also eat small insects, caterpillars, ants, and termites. But, nothing big and fleshy.

The carnivores eat the meat and flesh of animals. herbivores only eat plants.

omnivores on the other hand eat plants and meat. In the case of omnivorous gorillas, the meat that they eat can hardly be called meat.

But this does not affect their strength as gorillas can even kill a lion if they are able to bite the lion with their sharp teeth or deal a deadly blow with an object like a tree.

The gorilla's diet mainly consists of stems, bamboo shoots, and fruits. The enormous body of gorillas demands a great amount of food to eat.

To support and maintain their weight, they have to consume around 40-45 lb (18-20 kg) a day. Since their diet is mainly plants, they will find plants that give them the nutrition needed for the body.

The plant matter that has a high amount of protein becomes the main food for them to maintain the muscular body. A balanced diet is the main secret for the herbivorous gorillas to have such a massive appearance.

The cellulose in plants also becomes a factor that makes these herbivores strong and healthy. It is also important to note that many of the strongest animals are herbivores. Some examples are elephants and cattle.

Gorillas also eat heavy twigs and barks. This requires sharp and strong teeth to eat the plant material.

Apart from eating barks and twigs, the teeth are also a means to scare other male gorillas for dominance over them. The stems, fruits, and other plant matter that gorillas diet includes an account for the strength and build of these animals.

Do gorillas eat termites and ants?

We have already established the fact that gorillas don't eat meat. But, these wild animals have more than just plants in their diet. They are actually considered omnivores in this sense. So, apart from plants, what more do these animals eat? What is part of the gorilla diet?

Some gorillas like western lowland gorillas actually eat ants and termites. In order to hunt and eat these small insects, they break into the nest of termites to eat their larvae.

The reason that these animals are categorized as omnivorous instead of herbivores is due to their habit of eating insects. Though the western lowland gorillas eat these insects, that doesn’t mean every other gorilla does the same. Most gorillas are herbivores.

Ants, termites, caterpillars are all different insects that fall prey to gorillas. Ant eating behavior is also seen in mountain gorillas.

The Mountain gorilla eats small insects as well as plants and fruit. While gorillas kept by humans in zoos can have a little change in their diet, in terms of eating fish and other insects, wild gorillas are mostly herbivores.

Apart from a few species of wild gorillas that feed on ants and termites, other gorillas are pretty much fans of leaves and shoots. So, categorizing the whole gorilla species as omnivores does not seem so accurate. But gorillas can eat ants and other insects.

So, the possible explanation must be that some gorillas prefer not to have insects or meat. What they prefer is what they eat.

What fruits do gorillas like the most?

We do know that gorillas have an appetite for fruits. They eat different fruits to fill their stomach. Even with the vast vegetation of plant leaves and shoots around them, gorillas love fruits more than anything, especially the ripe ones.

The fruit diet of gorillas might be what keeps them so healthy. It is no secret that monkeys have a special love for bananas. We have seen monkeys associated with this fruit almost everywhere.

A wild gorilla can travel long distances just to eat its favorite fruit. In the case of gorilla animals kept in a zoo, they can easily digest fruits that humans eat.

The food that gorillas prefer from fruits contains lots and lots of fiber. That is why bananas often come as the first choice when we talk about the fruits that gorillas eat. A major part of the lowland gorillas diet is fruits.

Mountain gorillas have limited choices when it comes to fruits. This is because of the fact that they live in high altitudes.

The different fruit types that grow in high places are limited. So, the fruit part in their diet is limited to around three types of fruits.

Cross River gorillas are also known to have fruits in their diet. The incredible strength that this animal has makes it easy for them to collect food. For example, adult male gorillas can simply rip off a banana tree with their bare hands to collect food.

But, they don’t destroy the vegetation. They collect it in a way so that regrowth is easy.

Why do gorillas eat their poop?

I know, it's not something that you like to hear or know as a fact. But each animal is different from the human species.

Just like we find some things weird and hard to understand in other animals' behavior, other animals find certain human behavior confusing too. It's important to acknowledge that diversity is a beautiful factor in this life. That being said, why do gorillas have such a weird behavior of eating their own poop?

Many animals eat their own feces. Apes are also part of such an animal gang.

The apes are also seen eating others poop along with their own. Even if this behavior seems a bit odd, this is a way of improving their nutrient intake.

By retaking the food that they consumed and got rid of, they can make use of the undigested food that was missed out. The undigested food contains nutrients that could go to waste, so they eat poop to retain these nutrients.

It is no secret that gorillas need more nutrients in their body, thanks to the enormous figure that they are. So, in order to consume every bit of nutrient available, such a practice is seen among the family of apes. Chimpanzees don’t eat their own poop regularly.

It is a practice that is seen in them. The practice of eating poop is known as coprophagia and is seen among other animal species like rabbits, rodents, and primates.

For most herbivorous animals like gorillas, finding adequate nutrients in the wild is difficult. So they have to end up finding other ways like eating their own poop.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for are gorillas omnivores? The gorilla's diet might surprise you! then why not take a look at fascinating basketball facts for kids that love sports! Or what species of dinosaur Is Barney? Know all about the purple dinosaur.

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Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

Abhijeet Modi picture

Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

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