How strong are gorillas? Silverback strength vs humans

Charles, a silverback mountain gorilla, munching on some plants

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 weight!

But how are gorillas so strong? And how strong are mountain gorillas compared to humans?

In this article, we will highlight everything you need to know about one of earth’s strongest animals.

In addition to the gorilla’s impressive strength, learn all about how fast gorillas can run, too.

How Strong Are Silverback Gorillas?

Silverback mountain gorilla in the Virunga mountains, Rwanda

Mountain gorillas are the largest of all primates, not only in Africa but on Earth. And silverbacks are proven to have a stronger power to weight ratio than any other primates.

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. Among the primates of Africa, silverbacks are undoubtedly the strongest.

Wondering how strong are gorillas compared to humans?

Well, measuring a mountain gorilla’s strength is no easy task due to its gentle nature. In fact, they rarely demonstrate their power.

However, according to various experiments, an adult gorilla is four to nine times stronger than an average man.

With this strength, gorillas can easily tear down a banana tree with their bare hands. Some have even escaped from cages by bending the iron bars.

How Strong is a 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 gorilla 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 gorillas are 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 from doing whatever it wants.

How Much Stronger is a Gorilla Than a Human?

Baby mountain gorilla holding firmly onto a branch

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.

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. To see these apes in their natural habitat, go Rwanda gorilla trekking.

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

The Guinness Book of World Records recorded a gorilla lifting as much as 1800 lb (815 kg) above their heads. It’s highly likely that they can create a greater force than this.

This is a good example of gorillas’ strength vs human strength. Now that you have a better understanding of gorilla vs human strength, take a look at this article on bear vs gorilla.

Why Are Gorillas Strong?

Guhonda silverback, from the Sabyinyo mountain gorilla group

The big question is ‘why are gorillas so strong?’. The gorilla’s remarkable strength is due to several factors, including its size, shape, and diet. We will discuss these in detail below.

Mountain gorilla size and shape

The gorilla is the largest ape species. These mountain-dwelling behemoths can reach a whopping 200 kg at full size, 100 times heavier than their weight at birth.

They also have a unique and robust physical structure. A gorilla’s arms are incredibly muscular and quite a bit longer than its legs.

Gorillas are known to walk on all fours, as well as climb trees and swing on the branches. By doing so, their arms receive an enormous amount of exercise daily.

Even at their heavy weight, these large apes are capable of climbing and swinging, showcasing the incredible strength in their arms.

The gorilla diet

A member of the Amahoro mountain gorilla family eating bamboo

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 copious 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 hunting.

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 are 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.

As the mountain gorilla’s body fat percentage is low, its enormous frame supports a structure of pure muscle and power.

Gorilla Trekking Tips

When gorilla trekking in East Africa it’s important not to be scared. Guides will push you onwards if you take a step backward. 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.

For a more detailed explanation of what to do when encountering a gorilla, take a look at this video.

Gorilla Misconceptions

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.

Guhonda, the oldest silverback gorilla in Rwanda

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 behavior 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 humor? 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?

The Protection of Mountain Gorillas

Wild silverback gorilla up in tree

According to the IUCN red list, gorillas are once again considered a critically endangered species.

For a better understanding on how these primates’ lives are threatened, take a look at these reasons why mountain gorillas are endangered.

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.

How to See a Gorilla

Female mountain gorilla and photographer sharing an intimate moment

Now that you know how strong is a gorilla compared to a human, it’s safe to say that you do not want to get into a scuffle with these large primates.

Fortunately, gorillas are not very aggressive animals, so viewing them in their natural habitat is safe, provided you listen to your guide.

To view gorillas and other animals in the wild, check out these incredible safari deals.

1 thought on “How strong are gorillas? Silverback strength vs humans”

  1. I don’t think diet and carbon alone are what makes a gorilla so strong but rather its physiology so that part was pretty misleading.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *