A-z - Animals

Gorilla Strength: How Strong Are Gorillas?

Keep reading to watch this amazing video

key point:
  • The average wild male gorillas weigh between 300 and 500 pounds and the females between 150 and 250 pounds.
  • When male gorillas reach a certain level of maturity, usually at age 12, they begin moving into a new category known as the silverback.
  • Gorillas are primarily herbivores. The diets of different gorilla subspecies vary, but their diets generally consist of leaves, fruit, and other plant material.

Gorillas are the largest living primate in the world, weighing in at 860 pounds! You can learn more about the world's largest gorilla here. These are definitely very large creatures, but do their strength match their size? At first glance, the muscular structure of gorillas suggests that they are very strong, especially when it comes to the strength of silverback gorillas. But just how strong are gorillas? This article explores how gorillas maintain their amazing size and strength, and asks: How strong are gorillas?

How Gorillas' Bodies Build Their Strength

gorilla bite force gorilla rest
Gorillas are the largest primates in the world!

©AB Photographie/Shutterstock.com

©AB Photographie/Shutterstock.com

How strong are gorillas? Much of the gorilla's strength can be attributed to its large size. The average wild male gorillas weigh between 300 and 500 pounds and the females between 150 and 250 pounds. The large size difference between males and females is an example of sexual dimorphism. Sexual dimorphism is a natural phenomenon in which males and females of the same species have very different characteristics, such as size or color. This is very common in the animal kingdom, especially among primates.

When male gorillas reach a certain level of maturity, usually at age 12, they begin moving into a new category known as the silverback. Apparently, they were named so because of their silvery backs. Because of their age, silverbacks are generally stronger than both younger and much older apes in an area.

Among the great apes, orangutans and gorillas are the largest and both are exceptionally strong. However, the two apes moved very differently, which had a major impact on their body structure during evolution. Because orangutans move around by hanging and swinging from tree branches, also known as arm span, they have developed specialized shoulder joints and a unique distribution of muscles. Gorillas are adapted to quadrupedal locomotion, that is, walking on all fours. As a result, gorillas have joints capable of stable ground movement, and the hind limbs are highly muscular for weight bearing and propulsion. Both orangutans and gorillas in these examples show how everyday functions affect structure over time. Therefore, the way they walk greatly affects their musculature and how strong the gorillas are. Click to learn more about Gorilla Functional Adaptation.

Are gorillas stronger than orangutans?

How strong are gorillas compared to orangutans? The average gorilla weighs almost twice as much as an orangutan — 400 pounds versus 200 pounds. Gorillas are also much faster at ground speed than orangutans, running at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour, compared to only 2-3 miles per hour for the latter. The Gorilla's bite force is also very powerful at 1,300 PSI. The bite force of an orangutan is actually not as strong as that of a human, so it is not far behind that of a gorilla. In hand-to-hand combat, orangutans may bite or hit their opponents with objects. But gorillas can lift over 1,000 pounds, punch, kick, pull, and hurl enemies. So it's safe to say that a gorilla is a much stronger creature than an orangutan.

What do gorillas eat to get so strong?

Baby orangutan chewing a stick.


© iStock.com/nantonov

Gorillas have to eat a lot of meat to achieve their size and strength, right? Surprisingly, gorillas are primarily herbivores. The diets of different gorilla subspecies vary, but their diets generally consist of leaves, fruit, and other plant material. The leaves and foliage on which gorillas depend are low in nutrients, so they have to eat a lot to meet their needs. Eastern and western lowland gorillas also occasionally eat ants and termites.

Maximum weight lifted by a gorilla

The animal with the strongest bite - the gorilla
Gorillas rely on their strong jaw muscles to consume foods such as nuts and bark.

© Onyx9/Shutterstock.com

© Onyx9/Shutterstock.com

So, just how strong are gorillas? According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest weight a gorilla can lift is 1,800 pounds! Some hypotheses suggest that gorillas can lift 10 times their own body weight. To put that in perspective, the average American male can lift 0.87 times his body weight.

What are some other strong animals?

mother and baby elephant walking together
A female elephant, like the one seen here, can weigh several tons.

© iStock.com/saha_avijan

© iStock.com/saha_avijan

Many other animals are exceptionally strong for their size. For example, leafcutter ants can carry 50 times their body weight! These ants use their strength to clip the leaves which they bring back to the colony. Cattle are historically important to agriculture because they alone have a pulling capacity of 1,680 pounds. Elephants are the strongest animals in the animal kingdom and can lift up to 19,800 pounds!

How is the gorilla doing today?

Baby gorilla and its mother.
A baby gorilla clings to its mother.

©Asaf Weizman/Shutterstock.com

©Asaf Weizman/Shutterstock.com

Today, all subspecies of gorillas are at serious risk. Mountain gorillas are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. The western and eastern lowland gorillas and Cross River gorillas are listed as critically endangered. "Critically endangered" is the most severe status before extinction in the wild and total extinction. Western gorillas are more numerous than eastern gorillas. However, the number of individuals in the wild is very small.

Gorillas face a major threat from poaching — being hunted intentionally or unintentionally killed by traps set for other animals. Habitat destruction, disease and war also have a severe impact on gorilla populations. Gorillas and other great apes suffered as refugees turned to bushmeat during times of civil unrest. Because gorillas are so closely related to humans, they can suffer from different diseases that humans transmit. In 2004, Ebola ravaged gorillas in the Republic of Congo, effectively wiping out the population there. Recent estimates suggest that as many as 5,000 gorillas have died from Ebola.

Different conservation efforts have been put in place with many positive impacts. In the past, there were fewer than 880 living mountain gorillas, but in 2018 they were reclassified from critically endangered to endangered as their numbers surpassed 1,000. Breeding programs in various zoos have attempted to directly re-breed both species. Organizations and laws also exist to protect gorillas. The Great Ape Survival Partnership (GRASP) aims to protect all non-human great apes, including gorillas. In addition, the Gorilla Protocol is legislation specific to the protection of gorillas.

10 Interesting Facts About Gorillas

  1. Gorillas are the largest living primate, with males weighing up to 400 pounds and standing 6 feet tall.
  2. They live in groups of 2-30, called troops, dominated by a male known as a silverback because of the gray strands of hair on his back and shoulders.
  3. Gorillas have opposable thumbs like humans, which gives them more dexterity than other primates in manipulating objects, such as twigs or fruit, as food sources.
  4. Gorillas' diet consists mainly of plants, including leaves, twigs, roots and fruit, but they will also eat small insects for protein when necessary.
  5. Despite their size, gorillas can use their long arms to balance and speed through trees while swinging from branch to branch at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour!
  6. Their sounds include barking, grunting, and hooting, and are used to communicate within the unit about the threat or potential danger of predators in the area, such as leopards or eagles looking for a quick meal!
  7. Gorilla babies stay with their mothers until they are about four years old, and then venture into their own social groups, forming singleton groups with other young of a similar age, away from adult males who might try to dominate them in other ways!
  8. Gorillas are considered to be highly intelligent animals according to the studies conducted where they demonstrate problem-solving skills and emotional intelligence through expressions of joy when they are reunited with their families.
  9. Gorillas use tools for different tasks, such as measuring water depth with a stick or cracking nuts with a stone.
  10. Research has shown that gorillas even possess a kind of self-awareness, as evidenced by their ability to recognize themselves in mirrors – something only a handful of species on Earth can do!


  • Top Ten African Snakes Africa is a continent rich in animal diversity. Learn about the 10 largest snakes that live in Africa.
  • Rattlesnakes vs Venomous Snakes: How Are They Different? How does the venomous rattlesnake compare to the puff adder? Find out in this side-by-side comparison.
  • The 10 Most Beautiful Snakes In The World See The Most Beautiful Snakes In The World and learn about the most gorgeously scaled snakes on Earth.

More from AZ Animals

featured image

Gorilla staring at the camera
Gorillas measure water depth with sticks and build bridges to cross deep water.

© iStock.com/SooniosPro

about the author

jesse elop

Jesse Elop is passionate about wildlife and enjoys learning about animal biology and conservation. His favorite animals – besides his puppy Rosie – are zebras, mandrills and bonobos. Jesse's background in biology and anthropology has provided him with many interesting facts that may appear in some of his articles!

Thanks for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the 10hunting.com editorial team.