What do chimps eat? A chimpanzee's diet & eating habits in the wild African forests.

Chimpanzees are the closest relative to humans that we know of. They are very intelligent and live under complex social structures that prove that we are not very removed from them. 

According to DNA analysis, chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at what our closest animal cousins eat in the wild.

What do chimpanzees eat?

Chimpanzees are omnivorous frugivores that eat both plant and animal products with a high preference for fruits. Besides fruits, chimps eat leaves, leaf buds, seeds, nuts, blossoms, stems, pith, bark, honey, insects, eggs, and small mammals.

The diet of a chimpanzee in the wild changes with the prevailing seasonal changes.


How much does a chimp eat in a day?

Chimpanzees spend much of their day moving around for food and eating. They stop to eat for about 30 minutes before continuing to the next spot.

In total, it is assumed that an adult chimpanzee in the wild will eat around 6 kilograms (13 lb) of food each day. 

Chimpanzees have been noticed to eat smaller amounts if the available for is nutrient-dense, for example, nuts and meat.

What do baby chimps eat?

Before they are old enough for solid food, infant chimpanzees rely on breast milk from their mothers. Baby chimps are known to nurse for around 5 years.

Orphaned chimps become malnourished and die if they are not rescued and taken to a sanctuary or zoo.

In a captive environment, young chimps are fed milk that is specifically designed to provide them with all the right nutrients for growth.

hunting chimp in Gombe np

Do chimps eat meat?

Yes, chimpanzees eat meat and it is an important part of their diet accounting for around 6% of their overall diet. Since they don't need a large part of their diet to consist of meat, chimps hunt less often and the kill is usually shared with the whole group.

Chimpanzees have strong incisors and can easily tear through raw meat without any hardship.

Ants, insects, and smaller invertebrates also make up a good source of animal protein for chimps. While these might not be regarded as meat, they are a stable source of protein in cases where there are fewer options for hunted meat.

What animals do chimps eat?

Like humans, chimps require a certain amount of animal protein and they get this by hunting and eating some animals in their habitat. Chimpanzees often hunt monkeys and small antelopes that can easily be overpowered.

Forest habitats have very many animals that are quite small and chimpanzees can hunt and eat any of them.

Do chimps eat bananas in the wild?

Chimpanzees in the wild do not eat bananas. This is because they live in a wild rainforest environment which doesn't support the growth of banana plants.

Like monkeys or gorillas, chimpanzees in the wild can live their whole lives without ever seeing or tasting a banana.

Visitors who go to the thick forests to see chimpanzees in their natural habitat are strictly prohibited from giving chimps any food - even bananas. Therefore, some chimpanzee groups in the wild see humans on a regular basis but have never seen or tasted a banana

In sanctuaries or zoos, chimps can be given food which includes a banana on a regular basis. In the zoo environment, it has been observed that chimpanzees like bananas more than other 'less sweet' options such as kale or cucumber.

Related article: Where do chimpanzees live in the wild

Can chimps eat human food?

Since chimps and humans are very closely related, it is true that chimpanzees can eat human food. In a more practical sense, chimpanzees in the wild have no access to what would be called human food.

Chimpanzees at the zoo or in any other captive situation are can eat human food, especially in terms of fruits and vegetables that make up part of their diet.

The food given to the chimps is often the most healthy food option available. Therefore, most modern processed or fried foods are not given to chimps - much as they are totally capable of eating them.

Final Thoughts

Like many other aspects, chimpanzees are closely related to humans, and like us, they can eat a wide variety of animal and plant products. Chimps living in different areas will have different diet specifics depending on what is available.

Seeing chimpanzees in the wild is such a thrilling experience as you get to see and witness all the things that make them so interesting.

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