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Gorilla Night Routines

Fact 1

An infant gorilla will sleep in their mother’s nest until their mom reproduces again.

Infants that are too young or don’t have the skillset to construct a nest of their own rest in the same nest as their mother. However, once their mom has another infant, usually after four years, young gorillas will start to sleep on their own.  Prior to that age, they often will practice building nests during the day, what scientists call day nests. Go here to learn more about gorilla infants!

Infant Gorilla 
Baby Gorilla
Sleeping Gorilla

Fact 2

Gorillas rarely sleep in the same nest twice.

Since gorillas on average move less than one mile each day, they are never too far away from their previous night’s nest . However, even when in close proximity to a nest they’ve already made, they construct a new nest every night. Because of this nest building habit, counting daily gorilla nests is a great way for researchers to determine the size of a group, as well as the overall population of gorillas!

Gorilla Sleeping
Gorilla Resting
Gorilla Feet

Fact 3

Gorillas make nests to sleep in every night!

To build their nests, gorillas use  different vegetation including leaves, parts of bushes and branches to  form layers of bedding into a circular nest. Nest building usually takes around 5 minutes. Mountain gorillas are typically seen building their nests on the ground, however some individuals may choose to rest in an elevated nest.  Gorillas will also occasionally make day nests in which to rest, particularly younger individuals.

Gorilla Nest

Fact 4

Gorillas aren’t the only non-human great ape to build nests!

All great ape species, including humans, like to rest in a comfortable place at night. Just how humans like to curl up in a bed with blankets, gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos all find materials in their environment to use as bedding! In fact, humans are the only great ape that doesn’t build a new nest every night.  While mountain gorillas nest almost exclusively on the ground, the other types of gorillas as well as other great apes generally make their nests high in the treetops and off the ground from potential predators.

Sleeping Gorilla

Fact 5

How long do gorillas sleep at night?

Gorillas usually start making their nests about an hour before the sun sets, in time to be in bed by dark! They  typically stay in their nest the entire night, just like people. However, gorillas sleep longer than humans, averaging  about 12 hours of rest each night!

Gorilla resting
Gorillas Sleeping