- The Animal Encyclopedia for Kids


Orangutan Facts

Size Up to 3.2 ft (1 m)
Speed Up to 3.7 mph (6 km/h)
Weight Up to 260 lb (118 kg)
Lifespan 30-40 years
Food Fruits, leaves, bark, insects, nuts
Predators Tiger, clouded leopard
Habitat Borneo, Sumatra
Order Primates
Family Hominids
Scientific name Pongo
Characteristics Reddish-brown, long fur, very long arms

Main Characteristics

Orangutans are large, intelligent primates with orange fur and long arms, which are perfectly suited for swinging from branch to branch in the rainforest. Orangutans are the largest primates that live almost exclusively in trees.


Orangutans Use Tools

Orangutans are very intelligent and belong to the few species that can recognize themselves in a mirror. They also use tools - only few animals are capable of this.

Orangutans Don't Like Rain

Orangutans can be quite squeamish. When it is raining they protect their heads with leaves in order not to get wet. This is quite reasonable considering their long, shaggy coat. It just takes too much time to dry again, as they still don’t have electric sockets and hairdryers in the jungle (just joking!).

Orangutan Orangutan - Photo: Andrew Zarivny/Shutterstock

Orangutans Wear Gloves and Use Napkins

Orangutans do not only use leaves as “umbrellas”, but also handy “working gloves” to protect their hands from thorned bushes and fruits. Some also use leaves to rub their chins clean after eating.

Orangutans Also Have Flyswatters

Not only humans think that mosquitoes are bothersome. Orangutans also try to get rid of them and use a kind of flyswatter made of little twigs. They also use little twigs to catch delicious insects, open spiny fruits or steal some honey.

Orangutan Orangutan - Photo: Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock

Orangutans Use Twigs as Measuring Sticks

Orangutans have been watched sticking long twigs into the water vertically in order to find out how deep it is. This is essential for them to survive, because they cannot swim. Therefore they only enter waters which are shallow enough for them to wade through. Orangutans even use branches to construct simple bridges so that they can pass swampy areas without getting their feet wet.

Orangutan Orangutan - Photo: BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock

How Strong Are Orangutans?

Orangutans are very strong - they have especially strong muscles in their arms and fingers. Sometimes two trees are a little too far apart. In order to get from one to the other, an orangutan causes the tree on which it is sitting to sway – until it gets its hands on a branch of the other tree. Then it swings over - like Tarzan! It takes a lot of strength to do this. It is said that her handshake is equivalent to a force of 308 lb (140 kg). We humans manage up to 132 lb (60 kg) at most.

Are Orangutans Dangerous?

Orangutans defend their habitat. They become aggressive and will bite when feeling threatened.

Orangutans Play Pranks on Others

Scientists first observed orangutans playing tricks on each other in 2020. The animals clearly enjoyed the game and kept changing roles. Because of that, scientists believe that the animals must be very intelligent. They manage to assess a conspecific and plan something “unforeseen”. This takes brains.

Fun Facts

The Secret Identity of the Orangutan

The native inhabitants of the Borneo island (Indonesia) know: The orangutan is a human that does not talk so that he does not have to work. This is why they have named him orang hutan, which means “man of the woods” in the Indonesian language.

The Orangutan Holds a World Record

The Orangutan is not only the largest ape in Asia. From all animals that are almost exclusively living in trees, it is the largest, too.

The Orangutan Is Related To:

Animals in the Same Biome:

Orangutan Orangutan - Photo: Matej Hudovernik/Shutterstock


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