Are Orangutans Dangerous to Humans And Pets?

Disclaimer: The information presented below is for general informational & educational purposes only. Always consult with animal professionals in case of specific concerns.

Orangutans are unique apes.

They are the most intelligent primates, but they are also muscular and strong as they spend a lot of time moving.

Since their size, appearance, and strength are fierce, it’s pretty normal to consider orangutans dangerous creatures.

But is that true?

Are orangutans dangerous indeed?

We’ll reveal the real traits of this primate, its danger level, and the possibility of it attacking humans. Shall we start?

What Are Orangutans?

Orangutans are one of the most sizable arboreal mammals, spending a lot of time moving through trees.

Grasping feet and hands and powerful, long arms enable them to climb and move from branches to branches.

These giant apes and humans have 96.4% of similar genes, meaning they’re highly intelligent animals.

They prefer a solitary life and reside in lowland forests. These animals with human teeth enjoy slurping water in trees’ holes, eating birds, lizards, and wild fruits, such as figs, mangosteens, and lychees.

These creatures create nests in vegetation or trees to rest at night or during the daytime. An adult male can weigh 200 pounds maximum.

Flanged males feature a gular sac used for making loud verbalizations known as long calls and eye-catching cheek pads known as flanges.

Are Orangutans Dangerous to Humans?

Surprisingly, orangutans aren’t as dangerous as we think, and they rarely act aggressively towards people or other animals.

However, since they’re muscular wild animals, you should be cautious when coming close to them.

Despite their friendly nature, humans will never know what unthinkable things a wild creature can do.

How Dangerous Can Orangutans Be?

are orangutans dangerous

Orangutans are not scary or extremely dangerous species.

So far, there hasn’t been a claimed situation where an orangutan shows aggression and threatens humans, either in enclosures or wildlife.

They are famous for quite timid and gentle traits. Those living in wildlands spend a lot of time moving through trees and barely interact with people.

They won’t climb down the trees to reach the ground if there’s no need to. Thus, there is little chance a human can see and interact with them.

Also, an orangutan is reserved, introverted, doesn’t bother others, and doesn’t want others to bother them.

Do Orangutans Attack Humans?

Orangutans don’t proactively attack humans. In fact, there are very few circumstances where an orangutan attacks a person.

Are orangutans stronger than humans? They are incredibly robust and large and much stronger than a human. Yet, they don’t utilize that strength to fight human beings.

Wildlife explorers studying the genuine nature of this creature know that they’re loving and gentle.

Some people even think they’re lazy because they can lie on branches for hours doing nothing but staring at a dot.

We’re fond of this animal and often call it ‘a gentle giant’ since those simply are the most accurate words to describe it.

Its gentle, peaceful trait doesn’t let it attack people and other apes or species. It’s worth stressing that there has rarely been a case where a hostile orangutan fights with a human.

Even if that extreme circumstances happen, this creature surely has a reason for its aggressive and agitated behavior.

Humans and apes are pretty much alike. You don’t want someone to irritate, bother, harass you, or invade your personal space.

Thus, it stands to reason that an orangutan acts aggressively towards those occupying their territory.

Yet, even when sensitive and hostile, it does not choose to fight with a human.

It will show signs of anger and irritation, so everyone around notices how it feels and lets it be.

So, if you have an opportunity to witness or approach apes in real life or in enclosures, please be super gentle and as less annoying as possible around them.

They will be less cautious if you let them enjoy their peace and noise-free space.

Please always remember that an orangutan is a wild creature. Regardless of how shy and gentle wild animals can be, it’s hard to imagine what they can do.

Do Orangutans Act Aggressive Towards Each Other?

Yes, apes often behave aggressively toward each other. Aggression mostly occurs between two mature males when competing to win a female’s attention.

During the fight, males scratch, bite, and wrestle. These fights can pose injuries or even death.

You can find battle scars on mature males’ bodies, including missing eyes, deep lacerations, healed fractures, and missing fingers.

Not only mature males, sub-adult ones are smaller but still desire to copulate. But females don’t show interest in sub-adult male mates and tend to avoid them.

It causes these half-mature animals to feel frustrated and attempt to show control and aggression by forcing females to mate.

Females pay more attention to males fighting aggressively with other males, not those acting hostilely towards females since that is dangerous.

Aggression also occurs between females and males if the female refuses to do what the male wants. He could cause broken bones and bruises and even kick her off the tree.

Research shows that a female will steal a mature male’s food to watch their reactions. This test allows her to check the future mate’s aggression level and decide if she should choose to pair with him.

On the other hand, hostile attitudes rarely happen among female creatures. If there is, it often occurs during food deprivation.

Females don’t usually kill or hurt each other. They’d rather engage in hostile displays, including exposing their fang teeth, lunging and diving, and breaking branches.

Can Orangutans Be Friendly?

Are orangutans peaceful? Apes are not entirely friendly and peaceful. They are not fierce and hazardous, but they are not pleasant either.

Not being hostile and violent doesn’t necessarily mean an ape can be friendly and peaceful.

People found that these creatures mostly spend their lives moving through trees and barely climb down.

That behavior prolongs the distance between humans and them, keeping them from being open to people and having an opportunity to meet humans.

Orangutans prefer to do everything alone, staying high on branches while thinking about something. Maybe! Who knows?

The surefire thing is that they are reserved and shy animals, just like introverted people. They don’t even act friendly toward each other.

That’s a common characteristic among apes. These species are not friendly and don’t want others to invade their territory, except during copulating season.

While mothers prefer to spend time playing with their children, single adults don’t behave like that.

We know many orangutans who are friendly and open to people. But all of them were brought up by humans in hospitals or rehabilitation centers and released to the wild afterward.

Those apes are fond of people as they are familiar with them, particularly those born and raised in public rehabilitation centers.

There are also cases where female apes are open and friendly with women.

For instance, a woman traveling in Indonesia encountered a little orangutan when hiking and indulging in the rainforest.

The animal grabbed the woman’s hand and did not want her to go. It wasn’t angry or aggressive, yet no one knew what it wanted and why it held the woman’s hand.

It stuck to her for a few minutes and finally released her hand after people there treated it with food and warm gestures.

An expert said that this behavior is strange and rare. It often happens only when the animal has already had interactions with people who rescued it from death or difficult situations before.

Another hard-to-understand thing is that the baby was on the ground, not on branches. The first location for baby orangutans should be in the trees.

Related: Do Chimpanzees Make Good Pets?


Has Anyone Ever Been Killed By An Orangutan?

So far, there have not been any cases described as deaths caused by wild fatal apes. Yet, there are two cases of dead orangutans whose murders are people.

One was a wounded female Bornean animal that died on October 13th, 2006, and one was a baby who died in 2004.

Can Orangutans Understand Humans?

Yes, an orangutan can understand humans and emulate people’s speech one way or another. This species is the cleverest among apes, so it stands to reason it can sometimes engage with human communication.

Notably, the ginger ape astonished researchers by generating sounds like words in a verbal or conversational context.

Do Orangutans Bite?

Yes, mature apes can bite. If a person attacks them, they will bite his hand hard, causing pain and frightening him. Biting is one of their means of defense when provoked.

They may not intend to hurt you but just scare you away. But apes have thicker skin than us, so they don’t know how painful their bites are.

Are Orangutans Stronger Than Humans?

While an orangutan is weaker than a gorilla, it is about six to seven times more powerful than human beings.

Its arms are muscular and sturdy since its daily activity is to move from branches to branches. They need those strong muscles to lift their weight when swinging from one tree to another.

The Bottom Line

Are orangutans dangerous? No, they are non-aggressive and gentle apes who rarely pose a risk to people.

If you luckily have an opportunity to travel to rainforests and encounter orangutans in the wild, don’t be afraid since there will be no aggression.

Still, it’s always wise to keep a safe distance from wild animals irrespective of their calm, quiet traits.