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How strong are gorillas? Much stronger than you! Mountain gorillas have one of the best strength to weight ratios of any living mammal.

They have a bite twice as strong as a lion and can lift more than four times their own weight!

But how are gorillas so strong? And how strong are gorillas compared to humans? Here is the full story.

Gorilla Misconceptions

Guhonda, the oldest silverback gorilla in Rwanda

The mountain gorilla is arguably one of the most misunderstood animals living in Africa.

Yes, the gorilla is big. It is strong and is very capable of causing detrimental damage to those most deserving. But, gorillas are placid and often very bashful creatures. They prefer a lazy afternoon spent laying on a bulky tree branch.

The gorilla is one powerful primate that demands respect and consideration but not because of a tendency towards aggression.

Mountain gorillas don’t start fights. In fact, they do everything in their power to avoid them. But if threatened, they possess the gargantuan size and strength to ruthlessly end any conflict.

Gorillas express many emotions

There is a commonly held image of a big black ball of fur, growling and baring its fangs, beating its chest with clenched fists. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The regular mountain gorilla is an unassuming character who may look intimidating but just wants to be left in peace.

The thumping of the chest, for example, is less a thump and more a pat with a flat hand. This is a behaviour to signify strength rather than an intent to attack.

Did you know that the gorilla family is also a cheeky bunch with a sense of humour? They can show a myriad of complex emotions through an incredible variety of gorilla sounds.

The mountain gorilla belches to show contentment with its current set of circumstances. It chuckles and giggles when seeing something silly and even sticks its tongue out as a playful response.

And, sure, it will scream and bellow if it senses any form of danger but, don’t we all scream when in danger?

How Strong are Silverback Gorillas?

Silverback mountain gorilla in the Virunga mountains, Rwanda

Simply put, silverback gorillas are the meatiest and muscliest primates, not only in Africa, but on Earth.

Silverback gorillas are mature male mountain gorillas. They develop a line of silver fur across their back when coming of age. Every gorilla troop is led by a single silverback. But as these primates are lovers not fighters, it’s not unusual for multiple silverbacks to live in the same troop.

These mountain dwelling behemoths can reach a whopping 200 kg at full size, 100 times heavier than their weight at birth.

How strong is the silverback gorilla? How long is a piece of string? In the silverback’s case, this is one long piece of string. As mountain gorillas rarely make exertive exhibitions of maximum strength, it’s hard to say the limits of their physical prowess with any authority.

However, mountain gorillas are the largest of all primates. And silverbacks are proven to have a stronger power to weight ratio than any other primates.

The Gorilla’s Bite

Silverback mountain gorilla yawning

There is a saying which goes, ‘once bitten, twice shy.’

Well, one bite from this shy giant and you certainly won’t stick around for another.

To give a clear indication of the colossal force a mountain gorilla can impress, we can note the power of one singular bite in comparison to the world’s most feared chompers.

When we imagine being bitten, animals such as lions, crocodiles and sharks are amongst the ones we fear the most. These are the kinds of creatures that share similar characteristics of monstrously massive mouths and razor-sharp teeth.

So, where does the humongous mountain gorilla rank within the Earth’s best biters?

Boasting an ability to bite 1300 pounds of force per square inch (psi), the mountain gorillas has a weapon that it can keep in reserve for emergencies.

In comparison lions can produce a mere 650 psi while the bull shark can strain itself to bite down at 1350 psi. So while you may think of how strong are gorillas in terms of how much they can lift or move, these rainforest giants also have one of the strongest bites on the planet.

It wouldn’t be recommended to let a silverback gorilla chew on your ear, no matter how much it seems to like you. That said, good luck stopping it doing whatever it wants.

When gorilla trekking in East Africa it’s important not to be scared. Guides will push you onwards if you take a step backwards. You will be next to an entire troop of gorillas who are stronger than you.

If you are accosted by a giant silverback gorilla the best thing to do is to curl up in silence, look away, and hope it doesn’t think you’re up to no good. It will probably just sniff you a little and ruffle your hair, as this video shows.

How Strong are Gorillas Compared to Humans?

Put it this way, if a mountain gorilla were to jump out and ask for your wallet, you’d better hand it over. Give it your belt, shoes and any gold fillings you have, while you’re at it. Gorillas are far stronger than you. Except, like you now know, they are shy creatures so this is purely hypothetical.

Any hand to hand combat between even the most well-trained human and a gorilla will end ‘primates 1 hominids 0’.

Research has shown that it’s impossible to accurately quantify just how much stronger mountain gorillas are compared to their human cousins.

Baby mountain gorilla holding firmly onto a branch

There isn’t an Africa-based equivalent of ‘The World’s Strongest Gorilla (Man)’ competition with mountain gorillas pulling trucks and carrying boulders.

Firstly, it wouldn’t really be a global event because virtually all mountain gorillas only inhabit the three African nations of Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC.

An extremely well-trained human can lift a dead weight of approximately 900 lb (400 kg), which is significantly less than what an average gorilla can lift above its head.

Gorillas have been recorded lifting as much as 1800 lb (815 kg) above their heads. It’s highly likely that they can create a greater force than this.

How Are Gorillas So Strong?

A member of the Amahoro mountain gorilla family eating bamboo

The gorilla diet

As is the case with most animals and plants, diet is the driving factor behind a level of health, fitness and physical conditioning.

Existing on a corpious yet sustainable diet of plants, vegetables, fruits and occasionally small insects, makes the mountain gorilla an omnivore. This hunger for non-meat sustenance allows the gorilla to access its preferred food sources from all around its own living space.

The need for up to 40 lb+ (20 kg) of food per day requires the constant gathering and consumption of roots, fruits, branches and other plant life.

Despite always being on the lookout for something to chew or gnaw at, the mountain gorilla can avoid wasting energy by having to hunt.

The gorilla’s physiology

Gorillas have a longer digestive tract than humans do, so they can extract more nutrients from plants than us.

Mountain gorillas can absorb a high concentration of carbon. Carbon is the basic building block for life, as all mammals carbon-based entities. Obviously, this mass consumption of carbon helps gorillas to become extremely strong.

Such an organic, highly nutritious intake of low fat, high energy ammunition is the oil to the enormous gorilla engine.

Fatty meats require a lot of energy to break down. Gorillas are only carnivorous for a few small insects. So they can conserve energy and massively reduce their percentage of body fat.

With a minimal amount of body fat, the mountain gorilla’s enormous frame supports a structure of pure muscle and power.

The Protection of Mountain Gorillas

Wild silverback gorilla up in tree

Although the conservation status of the mountain gorilla was recently changed from critically endangered to endangered, there is still much to be done.

So, how can you help?

Ideally, you’d quit your job or university course, move out to East Africa and join the scores of staff and volunteers doing all they can to help.

Alas, for some this is simply not a realistic option. How about booking your once in a lifetime trip to trek through the mountains and meet these magnificent, majestic creatures face to face?

A significant percentage of the money you spend going gorilla trekking is used to protect their wilderness habitat. By preserving the space we can ensure their peaceful way of life.

So next time you’re sat in your office and have forgotten what life’s all about, and you’re wondering how strong is a gorilla, consider connecting with your wild side and coming face to face with a mountain gorilla troop. You will be preserving this species for the generations to come.