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Home » Safari News » All you need to know about a gorilla before your gorilla tour -Uganda Safari News

All you need to know about a gorilla before your gorilla tour -Uganda Safari News

4 Days Bwindi Gorilla Trek & Lake Mburo Wildlife Tour

13 Days Uganda Rwanda Gorilla Safari

Many people have heard of gorillas but don’t know it. Some people mistake a chimpanzee for a gorilla. Before coming for your gorilla safari in Uganda, here is a proper description about these endangered primates.

Gorillas are large, quiet, gentle apes that live in Africa and can only be seen if you took an Africa safari tour.  Though gorillas are regularly portrayed as aggressive primates, dangerous killers, they are shy, peaceful vegetarians. Because of massive loss of habitat, these majestic primates are referred to as endangered animals that are in great danger of going extinct.

Structure/ Anatomy

Gorillas have very long arms; the arms are longer than the legs. They have a short, bulky body with a wide chest. Gorillas have no tail. Gorillas each have a unique nose print (like we have unique fingerprints).

Hair and Skin
Lowland gorillas are covered with brownish hair and mountain gorillas are covered with black hair on most of their body (except their fingers, palms, face, armpits, and bottoms of their feet).

The Head
Gorillas are characterized with a very large head with a protruding forehead, a sagittal crest on top (larger on male gorillas), tiny ears, and small dark-brown eyes.


Adult gorillas have 32 teeth, with large molars (flat teeth used for chewing food) and large canines (pointy teeth used for biting). The male gorilla’s teeth are quite large compared to the other gorillas.


Just like humans, we have similar senses including hearing, sight (they seem to be slightly nearsighted and to have color vision), smell, taste, and touch.

Hands and Feet
Gorillas’ hands are very much like ours; they have five fingers, including an opposable thumb. Their feet also have five toes, including an opposable big toe. Gorillas can grasp things with both their hands and their feet.

What is the size of a Gorilla?

Male gorillas are much larger than the females, and are almost twice as heavy. Adult male gorillas are called silverbacks because they have a saddle-shaped patch of silver hair on their backs after they are about 12 years of age.

Female4.6 ft (1.4 m)200 lb (90 kg)
Male5.6 ft (1.7 m)400 lb (180 kg)

What do gorillas feed on? (Diet)

Gorillas are predominantly vegetarians (herbivores), and they feed on mostly plant material. They fed on leaves, fruit, seeds, tree bark, plant bulbs, tender plant shoots, and flowers. They have been known to eat various parts of over 200 different plant species. Occasionally, gorillas supplement their diet with termites and ants. They quest for their food in the forests during the day.

Gorillas rarely drink water; the water contained in their diet is apparently enough to sustain them. An average adult male eats approximately 50 pounds of food a day.


Gorillas are very intelligent and can learn extremely complex tasks.

Some gorillas being looked after have been taught sign language by people. Some gorillas have learned how to form simple sentences and how to communicate with people.

Gorillas have never been observed using tools in the wild, although they have been taught to use them in captivity.

How do gorillas behave and what are their social habits?

Gorilla families

Gorillas are diurnal animals, shy, social therefore they are very active during the day. They live in small groups called families and they consist of6-7 individuals or even more, including one silverback (adult male), a few females, and their young. When the young mature, they go off and join or start a family.

Gorillas groom one another. They are often seen cleaning the hair of another gorilla and this a major occupation among gorillas in a family. Female gorillas groom their offspring, one another, and the silverback; the silverback does not groom others because it is the head of the family.

Sleeping Nests

People on gorilla trekking safaris Uganda often wonder where gorillas sleep. Every evening, gorillas construct a “nest” for the night in which they will coil up and sleep. These bowl-shaped nests are made out of leaves and other plant material. Nests are not shared, its only a mother that can share with its offspring. Scientists that normally study gorillas can easily estimate a local gorilla population by counting the number of “nests.”

Gorillas are not aggressive animals. When an intruder disturbs them, they may make a lot of noise, but they rarely confront another animal.

How do gorillas communicate?

3 Days Lowland Gorilla Trekking in Congo

Gorillas are generally quiet animals but they communicate with each other using many complicated sounds and gestures. Research has it that Gorillas use at least 25 recognized vocalizations, including grunts, roars, growls, whines, chuckles, hooting, and many more. Other gorilla gestures include chest-beating, high-pitched barks, lunging, throwing objects, staring, lip-tucking, sticking out the tongue, sideways running, slapping, rising to a two-legged stance, among the many.

During your gorilla habituation safari Uganda, you will notice communication is used to teach the young the many skills that they need to survive, and for other gorillas to communicate about food, social relationships, distress, mating, and many more.

How do gorillas move from one place to another?

Gorillas do a knuckle-walk. This involves using both their legs and their long arms. They put pressure on their knuckles, with the fingers rolled into the hand. Gorillas rarely walk using only their legs. They can climb trees, but do not do so very often.

What is the life span of a gorilla?

Just like other animals, they live longer in captivity. Gorillas live about 50 years in captivity; their life span in the wild is only about 35 years.

Where do gorillas live?

Gorillas are primarily terrestrial. They live in tropical rain forests, wet lowland forests, swamps, and abandoned fields.

How many subspecies of gorillas do we have and where do they live?

There are different subspecies of gorillas and they live in different parts of western Africa.

  • Subspecies G. g. gorilla, the western lowland gorilla, is found at low altitudes in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Congo, and Equatorial Guinea.
  • Subspecies G. g. graueri,the eastern lowland gorilla, is found in eastern Zaire.
  • Subspecies G. g. beringei, the mountain gorilla, is found at high altitudes (from 5,400 to 12,440 feet or 1,650 to 3,800 m) in Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.

All these countries are open to gorilla trekking safaris therefore you can safari Rwanda for a Rwanda gorilla tour, to Congo for a Congo gorilla trekking tour, to Uganda for a Uganda gorilla safari tour and in other countries as well.

How do gorillas reproduce?

Gorillas are regarded fully grown and able to reproduce at about 10-12 years old. Female gorillas get pregnant for about 8 to 9.5 months and can have about 3 babies in their lifetime. Newborn gorillas weigh about 3-4 pounds (1.4 to 1.8 kg) at birth (about half the weight of a newborn human).

Just like humans, female gorillas carefully nurture their young. Baby gorillas learn to crawl at about 2 months (much earlier than humans) and can walk before they are 9 months old (earlier than most humans). They can grasp their mother’s fur to ride on the mother’s back at 4 months. Baby gorillas are fed mother’s milk for the first two and a half years of life. When they are weaned, gorillas begin to build their own sleeping nests out of vegetation (and not use their mother’s nest anymore). Young gorillas stay with their mother for 3-4 years. Adult male gorillas (silverbacks) will care for weaned orphaned young gorillas.

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