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- Bimodal foraging pattern in the morning and afternoon, separated by a long rest period.
- Rodman (1977) reported that daily peaks in the Kutai Reserve, Borneo occurred at 7:00-7:15 AM, and 4:15-4:30 PM.
- Rijksen (1978) reported daily peaks in the Ketambe Nature Reserve, Sumatra at 2-3 hours after leaving the nocturnal nest, and at 3:00 PM.
- Time spent on daily activities: 43% feeding, 41.5% resting, 13.5% traveling (often to find food) and 2% other (nest building, mating, vocalizing, socializing).
- Actual times vary from place to place and season to season.
- Orangutans sleep at night in arboreal nests that they construct, and usually move to a new spot every night.
- Diurnal resting occurs in arboreal or ground nests, or by leaning on or draping over large branches. Body posture is upright or supine.
- Orangutans were once thought to be solitary. More recent data analysis suggests that adult males are solitary, while females and young are more social.
- Males spend 91% of their time alone; the rest of the time is spent consorting with a single female, or interacting agonistically with other males (usually for control of territory or females).
- Females spend up to 7 years in continuous contact with each offspring; often she spends her time with two to three offspring of different ages; this is the most common social group.
- Males do not spend any time caring for young.
- Younger orangutans, especially adolescent females, have frequent social contacts with other immatures and adults
- In areas of abundant food, orangutans sometimes congregate to forage. They arrive independently, or travel in foraging groups.
- There is no strict social hierarchy, as seen in other apes.
- Social contact appears to be loose and impermanent, and does not form a community structure.
- Males and females both have large home ranges, which may overlap
- Territory of males (500 - 4000 ha) usually larger than territory of females (64 - 900 ha).
- Females have stable home ranges
- Adult male home ranges may be stable or transient.
- Transient males occasionally challenge resident males for dominance and control of their territory.
- Males are intolerant of other adult males living nearby, but are less aggressive towards sub adult males.
- Once independent, young females set up their own home territory in or near their mother's. Young males travel much farther away.
- Orangutans are generally non-aggressive toward humans and each other.
- Many individuals reintroduced into the wild after having been in managed care are aggressive towards humans.
- Male-male competition for mates and territory has been observed between adults.
- Adult males are more tolerant of subadult males than of other adult males.
- Play has been observed only rarely in the wild, and usually between infant and mother.
- Use wide repetoire of gestures and vocal signals to communicate (Knox et al. 2019)
- Intimidation display: males break, shake or drop branches; dive, and lunge; press lips tightly; gape to expose teeth.
- Facial expressions are used to communicate submission, aggression, fear, and worry.
- Gestures between mother and offspring relate to food and affection
- Click here for an audio sound of the Orangutan.
- Up to 18 different vocalizations have been identified, including 4 types of distress calls made by young animals, 8 types of calls dealing with threat or fear, and 6 types of calls dealing with mating, territoriality, play, and contentment.
- Males produce a very loud "long call" which attracts estrous females, and aids in maintaining territorial spacing of males. A shorter version, the "short call" is often used in reply to other calls.
- Listen to the "long call," courtesy of the BOS-USA (Balikpapan Orangutan Society), recorded by Soundelux Showorks.
- A "kiss-squeak" expresses excitement or fear and is made with a sharp influx of air through pursed lips.
- Information lacking in the literature.
- Primarily arboreal, but occasionally travel on the ground
- Brachiation occurs over short distances; arms swing over, rather than under
- Both hands and feet are used in arboreal locomotion
- Bipedal locomotion is rare
- Quadrupedal locomotion on the ground is somewhat common, but usually short in duration
- Jumping and leaping are uncommon
- When coming in visual contact with a snake or large monitor lizard, orangutans shake tree branches, make kissing vocalizations, throw twigs, or move away quickly.
- Reaction to humans in the wild is usually avoidant. If a human watches or follows the orangutan persistently, the orangutan often waves, breaks, and drops branches.
- Reaction to other primates feeding nearby is most often passive
- Very dexterous, use both hands and feet while gathering food.
- Tool use is uncommon and not well developed in the wild; examples include using leaves as cover when it rains or to wipe their face, and using sticks to clean their teeth and ears.
- Tool use is more common in managed care, and much of it is learned by imitating their human caretakers.
- Recent behavioral studies suggest that orangutans exhibit aspects of culture (van Shaik, 2003)
- Many behavioral traits are specific to some populations and absent in others.
- Behaviors are learned from one another, and passed on to subsequent generations
- Behaviors not habitat dependent
- Social groups have a larger behavioral repertoire than less social populations.
Indah and her young
Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.
Kaplan and Rogers, (1994)
Tuttle and Cortright, (1988 )
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