Chimpanzees are powerful, relatively big and have a large brain compared to other mammals. To stay healthy, they need a lot of nutrients from different food sources. They are not exclusively carnivores or herbivores; they are omnivores.
An omnivorous animal is one that consumes a variety of foods from both plant and animal sources. This characteristic implies that they have a lot of food available, which allows them to survive in adverse situations, such as plant shortages. However, although chimpanzees are omnivores, they prefer vegetable food and occasionally add meat to their diet. Their preferences are diverse, and they do not specialize in any particular food, even more, sometimes vary from individual to individual.
Chimpanzees are omnivorous because they consume food that comes from both vegetal and animal sources.
They spend almost all day eating, but feeding is an activity done mainly individually. During the first hours of the morning they begin to consume almost everything they have near, but after a few hours they become more selective and start choosing the leaves that have more water and the ripe fruits. On average, they spend 6 to 8 hours feeding.
The diet of the two species of chimpanzee is similar. However, the common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) consumes more meat than the bonobo.
Plant source foods
Common chimpanzees do not go down to the ground often. If they are up in a tree, they just have to extend their arm or move around a bit to get food. They prefer to eat fruits and especially figs. They like fruits so much that if there is not enough availability, they go around to find them. But their diet also includes leaves, shoots, seeds, flowers, stems, bark and resin.
Bonobos (Pan paniscus) also love fruit sweetness. About 57 percent of their entire diet is fruit. Other foods they consume are leaves, tubers, nuts, flowers, roots, stems, shoots, and although they are not vegetables, mushrooms (a type of fungus).
Since not all fruits are soft, and nuts can be hard, they use stones as tools to open them. Also, they use curved leaves sometimes as a bowl to drink water.
Animal source foods
The vegetables that chimpanzees eat give them a fair amount of protein, but they need a little more. Previously they were thought to be exclusively herbivores, but now it is known that they eat less than 2 percent of meat in their usual diet. Males consume more meat than females whose get their proteins mainly from insects. They have occasionally seen hunting; In contrast, they are often observed catching termites with the help of a stick or twig that they introduce in the termite nest. Once the insects climb to the tool, the chimpanzee takes it out and eats the recently caught food. From time to time they can also consume caterpillars.
Although they do not stand out as hunters, chimpanzees can hunt small vertebrates, mainly antelopes such as the blue duiker (Philantomba monticola) and monkeys, but sometimes they even feed on wild boars, birds, and their eggs. The species that common chimpanzees hunt are the Western red colobus (Procolobus badius), the red-tailed monkey (Cercopithecus ascanius) and the yellow baboon (Papio cynocephalus).
Meat accounts for less than 2 percent of your usual diet.
Hunting is a group activity. If it is a small monkey, a chimpanzee can go through the trees to get it, but in the case of needing help, each member of the group has a hunting role. Some chase the prey, others block the way, and others hide and ambush it. Once the animal is dead, they share the meat among all the members of the group. Bonobos hunt less often, but if they have the opportunity they catch termites, flying squirrels, and duikers.
There have been cases of cannibalism of common chimpanzees in the wild and bonobos in captivity. They are not frequent, but they can happen. Pan troglodytes can kill and eat members of other communities.
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