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Gorilla image
Gorilla

Gorilla

(Mammal)

Gorilla Baby
Gorilla Baby

Gorilla Habits

Each family group lives within a fairly small area. However, groups that occupy the same area coexist peacefully.
One way in which gorillas establish and reinforce bonds is by social grooming. One gorilla will groom the other by combing through its fur with its fingers and teeth. In addition to the cleanliness it promotes, social grooming allows close contact and touch between the animals.
Each evening, gorillas build nests in trees in which to spend night. Up to the age of three, the young share their mothers' nest. However, the nest-building instinct is so strong that they experiment with making their own nests at an early age.
Nest building is not a painstaking process. The gorilla simply pulls in any braches that it can reach and then squats on them to make a platform.
The gorilla's easy-going nature has made it possible for humans to mingle with wild family groups, and thus considerable study has been conducted on the gorilla. Unfortunately, gorillas have also been widely hunted for food and sport.
The greatest risk to the gorilla, though, comes from man's invasion of its habitats.

Gorilla Communication

Gorillas have many ways in which they communicate, both verbally and non verbally. It can be very loud around gorillas when they are active and communicating but there is plenty of information about what their sounds mean. They often mix sounds with actions and that makes it more clear to researchers what is being said.
Adult males wonít back down when they are being challenged by younger and immature gorillas. They will make very loud screaming sounds and at the same time they will beat their chest with their hands rapidly. This is a warning signal to the younger gorillas to back off or they will be engaged in a battle. Most of the time the younger ones will retreat.
Researchers have identified 20-25 different sounds that gorillas made and what they mean. There are still many more though that we donít fully understand yet. They make chirps, grunts, roars, growls, and even hooting like an owl at times. They certainly can be funny too, laughing in a way that seems like they are making fun of others around them and even the famous sticking their tongue out.
Gorillas use their communication skills for a variety of things. This is one of the most important things that a mother can teach to her offspring. They use their communication to find food, to offer support or discipline, to express their own distress, for mating, and for developing social relationships within their troop.
What is also very interesting is that in certain troops they may develop forms of slang as we do in our own social groups. This is fascinating as it means that their communications are often learned behaviors and not just instinct driven. It can be harder though for gorillas when they move to find their own troop though as those forms of communication wontí be readily known by others outside of that troop.
Gorillas have also been taught how to communicate on various levels by humans. One very successful story is that of KoKo. She was taught how to use sign language which was considered to be quite a breakthrough with these animals.
They have very good hearing so they can call out to each other. The young definitely learn the voice of their mother at a very young age. They can pick up noises that humans canít even hear and that is often how they are alerted to dangers. They also rely upon their sense of smell to warn them if humans or other threats are in the area.
Young gorillas have communications that they use which are similar to those of human babies. They include whining and crying. Their mothers are quick to try to find out what they need to get those forms of communication replaced with those that are more along the lines of contentment.
There are 9 complete steps to what has become termed as the gorilla communication ritual. First they will offer hooting sounds that get faster, feed in a methodical way, jump up and down, throw food, beat their chest with both hands, kick with their legs, run sideways, tear at vegetation out there, and end with their palms hitting the ground and more hooting sounds.
Many researchers continue to try to decode the language that is believed to be there for gorillas. This isnít an easy task though with so many sounds being produced by them. It is like trying to take a completely foreign language and learning it all on your own. Since many of the different sounds seem to have multiple meanings then that makes the task even more difficult.

Gorilla Breeding

Gorillas mate year-round. The female produces one offspring about every fourth year. If her offspring gorilla dies in infancy, which happens 40-50 percent of the time, she will breed more frequently. A young gorilla remains with its parents three years after its birth.
Gorillas live in groups of ten to thirty females and their young, with one or more mature males, called silver-backs. Young adult males generally live alone, sometimes joining groups for short periods. Afterward, they resume their solitary existence. Occasionally they take females with them to mate and start their own groups.

Gorilla Food & Feeding

The gorilla is herbivorous, or plant-eating (as opposed to carnivorous, or meat-eating). It eats the fruit, leaves, and stems of a wide variety of plants that form the undergrowth of the forest floor. Bamboo shoots are a favorite. The food it eats, together with the dew it drinks off of leaves, provides all the moisture a gorilla needs.

Gorilla Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: Male, 6 feet. Female 5 feet
              Weight: Males, up to 600 lb. Females, up to 200 lb
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: Males, 7-8 years. Females, 6-7 years
             Mating: No particular season
             Gestation: 251-289 days
             Number of young: One
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Sociable
            Diet: Entirely vegetarian, mainly fruit, leaves, and juicy stems
            Lifespan: At least 30 years

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • When a gorilla drinks, which is rarely, it soaks the back of its hand and sucks the water from the fur.
  • As he matures, a male gorilla's skull develops a bony ridge which makes his head dome-shaped.
  • Social grooming can relax a gorilla to the point that it will go into a trance.
  • The DNA of gorillas is very similar to humans Ė about 98-99% the same. This is more than any other animal in the world.
  • When male gorillas are about 12 years of age they can develop silver coloring on their back. This is where the name silverback comes from.

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