Orangutans are large primates that spend most of their lives in trees. These great apes are an endangered species, and badly need our help. Let’s learn some amazing orangutan facts …
If you were a ‘man of the forest’, you would be an orangutan. What, really? In Malay and Indonesian, the word orang means ‘man’ and utan means ‘forest’. These words are put together to make up the name of this amazing ape.
An easy way to remember how to spell this name is to take a look at the colour of orangutans. They’re mostly orange, just like the first part of their name!
Where do orangutans live?
Indonesia is a collection of islands in south-east Asia, just above Australia. Two of these islands are called Sumatra and Borneo, and this is where all the orangutans live.
If you want to see an orang-utan, look up! Orangutans spend most of their time in the trees. However, they do come down onto the forest floor from time to time.
Watch this amazing video to see orangutans in the wild.
Orangutan Facts: Nests
Orangutans make nests in the treetops to sleep in at night. They take a bunch of leaves and branches and make a comfortable bed 120 feet off the ground. You wouldn’t want to fall out that bed!
Orangutans also walk along the ground of the forest to find food. If they don’t find anything on the ground, they swing from branch to branch in the forest trees looking for fruit. Sometimes, orang-utans swing about the trees in their forest home just for fun – and who can blame them?
What do orangutans eat?
Since orangutans live in tropical rainforests, they are able to find lots of types of food. Fruit is plentiful in the rainforest, and this is the orangutan’s favourite food.
Have you ever heard of a jackfruit? Sometimes it is called a star-fruit. Jackfruits are big, greeny-yellow oval shaped fruits with rough skin and soft fruit on the inside. But not many people like to eat these because they smell really bad! You wouldn’t want to be around when an orangutan cracks one of these open for an afternoon snack – it might smell like someone just stuck their smelly running shoes under your nose!
During certain parts of the year the fruit might not be very ripe. When this happens, orangutans eat insects instead. There are lots of insects like ants, termites and crickets that orangutans think are pretty tasty. They also eat some leaves, flowers and bark from the trees in their home. Imagine an orangutan making a flower sandwich filled with squashed insects. Lunch is served!
How big are orangutans?
Orangutans have super long arms, which help them to climb trees and swing from branch to branch. When an orangutan stretches out its arms, they can reach up to 8 feet long. This is bigger than a really, really tall basketball player! Imagine getting a hug from an orangutan – its arms would wrap around you three times!
Orangutans use their long arms to walk around on all fours. Orangutans are pretty large animals. A female orangutans weighs from 80 to 120 pounds and stand about 3.5 feet tall. Males are much bigger than this and weigh 17 to 250 pounds and are about 4.5 feet tall. This is so the male orangutans can be big and strong to protect the females and their babies – or maybe boy orangutans just like to eat more jackfruits than the girls!
Why do orangutans have hands like humans?
Orangutans have a lot of the same features as humans. Take a look at your hands. See how your two thumbs can stick out to the side and you can bend them about. Can you touch your thumb to your fingers? Can you pick up your pencil between your thumb and index finger? You can do these things because you have ‘opposable thumbs’. Orangutans have these as well. Humans and apes or monkeys are special in this way as not every type of animal has opposable thumbs. Your dog certainly can’t pick up a pencil with its paws!
Orangutans also have the same amount of teeth as humans do. They have 32 permanent teeth. orangutans also deal with the weather the same way humans do. Do you use an umbrella when it rains? Well, an orangutan holds a branch or leaf over its head so it doesn’t get wet. Orangutans don’t have sunscreen or an air-conditioner when it’s hot and sunny though, so they use a leafy branch to fan themselves. And do you ever get annoyed at mosquitos or insects buzzing around your face? So do orangutans! They use their super long arms to swat silly mosquitoes out of their way.
Why are orangutans endangered?
Orangutans are a really special type of ape, but sadly they are in trouble in the wild. This is because the rain forests in which they live are being chopped down. This is called de-forestation.
Many of the trees are being harvested to make palm oil. This is a type of oil that is used in lots of food products that the supermarkets sell. To get this oil, big machines cut down the trees. This leaves the orang-utans without a home.
Did you know that you can actually help save the orangutans? When you buy something from the supermarket to eat, stop and check the ingredients. Try to find things that don’t have palm oil in them. You might be surprised at just how much food uses palm oil! But when you do a little thing like buying something without palm oil, you become an orangutan’s superhero because you are helping to save their home.
10 Amazing Orangutan Facts For Kids
- Orangutans live in Indonesia, on islands called Sumatra and Borneo.
- Like humans, orangutans have opposable thumbs so they can hold things.
- Orangutans have really long arms that are 2 times bigger than their bodies.
- In the wild, orangutans can live between 35 to 50 years.
- Orangutans are endangered because their habitat is being chopped down.
- Orangutans walk on all fours, using their long arms to support their bodies.
- Fruits, leaves and insects are what orangutans like to eat.
- Orangutans are really strong so they can swing from branch to branch.
- Female orangutans have one baby at a time, every 7-9 years.
- Orangutans make lots of noises with their voices.
Learn about more amazing rainforest animals here: Rainforest Animals.
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