Orangutan Eating Habits


The orangutan is a great ape species that is exclusive to Asia. It is also the only primate in Asia and there are two species; the Sumatran and the Bornean.


When it comes to feeding the orangutan their diet is composed of close to 90% fruit. They have a voracious appetite and dine on over four hundred different types of plant varieties. One of their favorites to eat is a fruit called the Durian. The Durian has a very sharp skin covered in spines and then lathered in a pungent odor.


One interesting factor about orangutans and feeding is that these primates often use tools to get the food they are after.  They are known to use tools alongside their powerful jaws when eating on the Durian.

Orangutan and food

Orangutan Eating

Other Important Factors

Although an orangutan gets most of their needs from fruits they will also eat bark for added fiber and carbohydrates as well as leaves for the same additives. In addition to this they will get a solid source of protein from nuts that they can forage. Because they are such a large primate they often spend six hours or more just foraging for different foods.

Ecosystem Importance

Because the orangutan eats mostly fruit they are an integral part of spreading these tropical plants. In fact many of the seedlings wouldn’t sprout if they hadn’t passed through the great ape’s digestive track. They have an important role in the dispersal of tropical plants.

Diet Of The Baby Orangutan

The feeding of a baby orangutan is the mother’s responsibility for as long as seven years and in some cases even longer. They nurse their babies for some time and then start teaching them feeding for themselves by way of foraging. The orangutan is thought to be one of the few mammals with nearly as close a mother child relationship as humans.

Orangutans feeding

Orangutan eating a banana

About Orangutan Feeding

These apes will strip the leaves from different branches by dragging the branch through their mouth. Also, they are capable of memorizing locations of food supplies even though some of them are temporary like tracking the seasonal changes to identify when trees will be fruiting.

Another amazing feeding behavior is that when orangutans are feeding they will consume soil to help in their digestive process.

Orangutans will take in a good, clean source of water often. However, as they spend so much time feeding on fruits they don’t need as much water as many might assume. In addition an adult orangutan will give water to their young by letting them drink from their mouths.

Other Factors Involved With Feeding

As with all primates, the orangutan will enjoy dining on bugs and worms. Generally, the adult males will eat more bugs than the other orangutans, preferring large termite mounds. They will forage for hours to digest a good supply of termites or other insects. They are opportunistic with their feeding in the idea that they will continue to eat a wider variety of food stuff.

The orangutan will also vary its feeding depending on the season, the locale they are in, if they are breeding and if are pregnant. The more we take the time to study the diet of the orangutans in the wild the better shot there is of developing the ideal diet for those that are being held in captivity, insuring we provide them with both nutrition and enrichment in their captive environment.

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