What do chimpanzees eat?

Like humans, chimpanzees are omnivores. That means they eat all sorts of vegetarian food as well as animals. The list of food items is long: fruits, nuts, leaves, plants, mushrooms, flowers, insects, meat and more.

Food item Percent
Fruit 59,4
Leaves 21,3
Seeds 5,1
Blossoms 4,1
Insects 4,2
Meat 1,4
Other 4,5

Calculé par Goodall (1986) Chimpanzees of Gombe, page 233

Some of these foods they have to prepare before eating. They chew some fruits to form little fruit-balls, called 'wadges', and then dip them in water before sucking out the juice.

tools in useFor other foods they have to use a tool. Nuts, for example, chimpanzees open with stones or branches. They use them like a hammer and anvil. They choose a firm substrate e.g. a root of a tree, lay the nut on top and hit it open using a stone or a branch.

antsTo eat ants, chimpanzees use another tool. They take a stick, break it off at the right length, and hold this ant rod in the ant nest. Some ants climb up the ant rod and then get slurped off by the chimpanzee.




close up from a chimpanzee

DUNA is the only sterile female of the south group. She is very tall and high ranking and has a shoulder height higher than the adult males. She adopted the orphan Utan and later ENDORA, the daughter of her best friend EVA, who was killed by a poacher in November 2002. She regularly is the last female who starts to greet an adolescent male when he tries to make his way through the hierarchy. She actively supported Zyon during the time when Sagu started to contest him. When the group was habituated, there was an adolescent female, DAWA, together with DUNA, who eventually emigrated in 1997. We never found out if that was DUNA’s real daughter, or if she also had been adopted.