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Gelada (Theropithecus gelada) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding


Vegetarians (from Crook 1966 unless otherwise noted)

  • Primarily graminivores (feed on grasses) (Iwamoto 1993)
    • Grasses compose the majority of the diet
      • Consume leaves, stems, seeds, and roots
    • Green shrub leaves
      • Acacia spp.
    • Bulbs
  • Insects taken on occasion
    • Flying ants and termites (Crook 1966; Iwamoto 1993)
  • Raid cultivated crop land

Feeding and Drinking


  • Sit to gather and eat food (Crook and Aldrich-Blake 1968; Dunbar 1977; Iwamoto 1993)
    • Shuffle forward on haunches to change grazing site
    • Infrequently adopt a bipedal stance to take food from shrubs or trees
  • Hands secure food (from Crook and Aldrich-Blake 1968; Dunbar 1977 unless otherwise noted)
    • Thumb and forefinger pluck leaves from grass and shrubs (Crook and Aldrich-Blake 1968; Dunbar 1977; Iwamoto 1993)
      • Repetitiously gather small items
        • Selectively pick green blades (Iwamoto 1993)
      • Bundle together numerous leaves before placing into the mouth
    • Fingers dig for bulbs
      • Chop into turf with a spade-like action
      • Typically while seated (Iwamoto 1993)
      • Excavate top 3-7 cm (1.2-2.8 in) of soil (Iwamoto 1993)
    • Leap into air to grab flying ants

Drinking (from Kawai 1979)

  • Body position and behavior
    • Crouch on the hands and knees; place mouth on the water surface
    • Drink c. 2-3 minutes
    • Typically drink 2 times per day; up to 3

Feeding Behavior

Geleda families in the grass

Grass leaves are repetitiously gathered with the hands before being bundled together and placed in the mouth. Geladas forage and eat while seated, shuffling forward on their haunches to move from one spot to another.

Image credit: © Medina from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Page Citations

Crook (1966)
Crook and Aldrich-Blake (1968)
Dunbar (1977)
Iwamoto (1993)
Kawai (1979)

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