Orangutan Facts

Orangutans are found in the wild only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. They have a thin orange coat that turns dark-brown to black as it ages. The are is an arboreal animal, meaning they spend most of their time in trees. Although they are primarily tree dwellers, they are exceptional climbers and can descend to the ground when necessary.

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Orangutan Facts for Kids

  • They live in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra in Southeast Asia.
  • They eat lychees, mangosteens, mangoes, figs, bird eggs, leaves, shoots, and insects
  • They live for between 35 – 45 years
  • Males can reach 300 pounds when fully developed.
  • They can reach five feet tall
  • Orangutans are able to swim and dive.
  • They spend most of their entire lives in trees

Everything You Need To Know About Orangutans

1. There Are 3 Species of orangutans, Not 2

It used to be believed that the only species were the Bornean Orangutan and the Sumatran Orangutans, but as of 2017, scientists have found a newly confirmed species: the Tapanuli Orangutan.

In terms of numbers, the Bornean’s come to around 100,000, Sumatran less than 14,000, and the Tapanuli have the lowest numbers at less than 800. If you’re wondering why those numbers are so low, keep reading below.

2. They Are Critically Endangered

Looking at the above numbers, it’s easy to understand why they are classed as critically endangered, but did you know that it’s mostly our fault as humans.

Deforestation has destroyed the homes they have lived in for many years, and now they struggle to find alternative habitats that suit them. Most of their habitat is destroyed for palm oil plantations, which is why they’re endangered.

The more we destroy the forest they call home, the more we take away the trees they survive in, the greater their risk of extinction.

3. They Can Use Tools

That’s right, orangutans are exceptionally intelligent mammals and can use tools. That doesn’t mean you’ll find them building houses for themselves in the forest, but if they need to use a heavy rock to get to some delicious food, then they’ll do so. It might seem like a simple enough task, but when you think about it, the ability to use their hands to solve problems is a mark of incredible intelligence.

4. They Don’t Reproduce Quickly

Of all the land mammals, they’re actually the ones with the longest birth interval, only giving birth to offspring once every 7 to 9 years. This is because their young depend so heavily on their mothers and will live with them until they are seven years old.

Baby orangutans don’t venture far from their mother’s back for their first four years. In this time, she will teach them everything they need to survive life in the rain forest, from what food to eat, to the best place for shelter.

5. They Build Their Own Nests

Yes, just like birds, they build nests up in the trees so they can rest. It’s surprising, considering that they are the largest animals that live in trees, but they can build nests that support their body weight.

In fact, mothers create nests that are strong enough for her and her baby, so they can create really robust structures. Maybe one day we’ll see an orangutan building a house after all.

6. Males Look Different From Females

When they’re young, it might be more difficult to tell them apart if you’re not an expert, but as they reach full maturity at around 35 years, old males become much easier to spot. They develop fatty tissue on either side of their face, creating what is known as flanges.

These flanges are a sign of a fully mature adult male, and females take flanges into consideration when choosing who to mate with because flanges are a sign of good health and survival. Given that some adults can live up to 50 years, it’s not surprising that the females are looking for males with flanges as a sign of maturity.

7. They Have An Odd Taste In Food

These mammals will look for fruit as the principal part of their diet, but when the fruit is scarce, they’ll happily eat soil and tree bark as a substitute. If you think that’s odd, though, then you should hear about the durian fruit.

This is the absolute best thing to eat in the eyes of these animals! If you’re wondering why they aren’t a staple in our diets, well, that’s because their scent has been compared to sewage. Probably best to leave the durian fruit to them, right?

8. They Are Our Closest Cousin

Lots of people know that somewhere in history, all mammals share a common ancestor. But did you know orangutans are our closest match when comparing DNA? 97% of their DNA matches with our own, and their name actually arrives from the Malay words “orang hutan,” meaning human of the forest.

That shows how alike we are. Even before we started testing DNA to see just how much we share with our orange-haired cousins, we thought of them as one of us!

9. They Don’t Like To Live In Groups

It’s common to find a mother with her young in the wild, but she won’t be hanging around with anybody else. In fact, male orangutans prefer to live in complete solitude when they are old enough to leave their mothers.

They’ll find a female whenever they can to mate, but besides that, they’re perfectly happy to be left alone. It looks like they’re happy to leave all the childcare to the mother of any offspring they might have too!

10. They Make Loud Noises Regularly

Males prefer solitude, and solitude usually means finding somewhere private to call home. Not a simple task on an island, so when they have found the perfect spot, they protect it at all costs.

Loud howls and bellows can be heard from miles away whenever a male is warning others he has found his territory. It doesn’t mean that another male is encroaching upon their home either. Sometimes they just like to yell to let any would-be intruders know before they even get close.

11. Their Arms Are Longer Than Their Bodies

Most adults stand at around 1.5m but their entire arm span from one set of fingertips to the other reaches around 2.2m. That’s why they can sometimes look a little awkward on the ground because their bodies have adapted so perfectly to their home in the trees.

With a stretch that wide, they can move easily from branch to branch without having to make any risky jumps. That’s reassuring considering their size!

12. They Don’t Like To Fight

You might find that to be odd considering how territorial they are, but on the whole, orangutans don’t like to fight. Whenever there is a confrontation, it is usually a territorial dispute between males.

But they won’t just jump in and start fighting. Their first move is usually just to break branches and charge one another, trying to scare the other away. If that fails, they will fight and bite, but they try to avoid this whenever they can.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do orangutans live for

Orangutans are critically endangered, and experts believe that their numbers could dwindle past 100,000 within the next 20 years. They can live anywhere from 50 to 100 years in captivity.

Do orangutans cry?

Some scientists think that orangutans produce light tears but do not usually cry big, wet tears like you and I.

Who is the bigger gorilla or Orangutan

– Gorillas are the largest of all the living primates.

– Adult male gorillas have an average weight of 250kg.

– Adult female gorillas have an average weight of 150kg.

– Male orangutans typically weigh 20% less than females and are therefore marginally smaller, with average weights ranging from 130 to 160 kg (290 to 350 lb).

Are orangutans smart

Orangutans are smart. Their brains are more similar to a human’s brain than any other animal’s brain, and they have been trained in a number of tasks that only humans or those with above-average intelligence could learn to do.

Do tigers eat orangutans

Yes, tigers do eat orangutans. They also have other prey such as deer, lorises, monkeys, and wild pigs.

What are some interesting facts about orangutans?

The Orangutan is an endangered species of ape. It is considered the third great ape, after humans and chimpanzees. Adult male orangutans can stand up to five feet tall and weigh 300 pounds.

Female orangutans are smaller at around four feet tall and 100 pounds. The females carry their babies on their backs until the infant can walk on its own, usually up to eight and a half months.

The orangutan population in Sumatra has fallen 50% since 1993.