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Orangutan Baby
Orangutan Baby

Orangutan Habits

The orangutan lives a solitary life in the treetops of the rainforest. With the exception of adult males, orangutans rarely descend to the ground. The orangutan is a diurnal animal that is, active during daylight hours. At night, females and youngsters sleep in a nest of braches placed in the fork of a tree. Because males are heavier, they generally prefer to sleep on the ground. All orangutans sleep on their sides with their arms cushioning their heads. At daybreak, orangutans leave their nests and search for food.
Orangutans are far less sociable than other apes and do not live in large social groups. Adults males are particularly solitary and stake out areas of forest which they defend as their own territories, fighting other males who intrude if necessary. Females occasionally group together loosely with their young.

Orangutan Communication

Orangutans are the least vocal of the great apes, but they do have a system of auditory communication. Their most dramatic vocalization is the long call, given only by adult males. The call has been likened to the sound produced by large volumes of water roaring through steel pipes. The precise function of the long call is not known, but it probably serves to space out adult males in territories. It likely also serves other functions, including a display to attract sexually receptive females, and a signal to inform the community of the location of the dominant male. Males tend to call in bad weather, when another male is visible or calling, when close to a sexually receptive female, or as an element of copulatory behavior. Calls are audible up to 1.2 miles from the source.
Other vocalizations include a variety of grunts, squeaks, moans, barks, and screams. Alarmed and agitated individuals produce "kissing" and "gluck-gluck gluck" sounds that seem to indicate their level of annoyance. These noises are often accompanied by aggressive physical displays, such as shaking and breaking branches. Males use their huge size and other secondary sexual characteristics during intimidation displays. They inflate their throat sac and elevate the hair on their shoulders and arms to make themselves look larger. When threatening, individuals open their mouths wide to show their teeth, and when fearful, they extend their prehensile lips.

Orangutan Breeding

A dominant male orangutan may have large breeding territory and mate with several females. Mating occurs year-round and females give birth to a single offspring every 3-6 years. A baby orangutan grows very slowly. It may become somewhat independent at 3 years of age, but it will stay with its mother until she gives birth again.
Because female orangutans do not mate again until an offspring is at least 3 years old, they may only succeed in raising two to three young in a lifetime.

Orangutan Food & Feeding

Fruit, nuts, leaves, bark, insects, and eggs form the diet of an orangutan. When the food supply in a particular area is plentiful, an orangutan may remain in one place for a period of time to feed. Although several orangutans may feed from the same tree, there is little social interaction or competition among them.
Orangutans, like the other apes, appear to be highly intelligent. They have the ability to memorize the geography of their surroundings and will travel great distances to find trees that ripe fruit.
When orangutans are thirsty, they locate a hollow in tree where water has collected from past rainstorms.

Orangutan Key Facts

              Height: Male, 4 feet. Female 3 feet
              Weight: Males, 130-200 lb. Females, 90-110 lb
             Sexual maturity: 8-10 years
             Mating: Year-round
             Gestation: 260-270 days
             Number of young: Usually a single young; twins are rare
            Habit: Diurnal and mainly solitary
            Diet: Tropical fruits, leaves, shoots, bark, insects, and eggs
            Lifespan: Average 35 years



  • Orangutans are mostly solitary, which is rare since primates usually have rich social lives. Some theories suggest that being solitary is a necessity for Orangutans since their caloric needs are so large they cannot share.
  • Centuries ago, orangutans were much larger than they are today. Fossil remains show that a species of giant orangutan existed in China 500,000 years ago.
  • Orangutans possess 32 teeth, the same number present in Humans.
  • The strength of Orangutans is believed to be 7 times greater than Human strength.
  • Because the orangutan spends most of its life in trees, its arms are longer and stronger than any other ape's.

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