Where Do Orangutans Live? Orang Utan Habitat



Orangutans are incredibly intelligent, and their habitats are some of Earth’s most diverse and fascinating places. Let’s take a closer look at where orangutans live and their habitats.

Orangutans live in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. They spend most of their time high in the trees in these rain forests. They used to live throughout Southeast Asia, southern China, and the island of Java, but due to drastic population declines, they are now only found in these two locations.

In this article, we’ll discuss where the different species of orangutans live, their ideal habitat, where they sleep, and more. So, if you’re ready to learn more about these amazing creatures, keep reading.

orangutan hanging on a tree

Habitats of different orangutan species

Orangutans are arboreal mammals that spend most of their time in trees.

All orangutan species are found in the tropical rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. These rainforests are characterized by high humidity, rainfall, and dense vegetation.

These forests provide the perfect habitat for orangutans, as they can swing from branch to branch and build nests in the tree canopy.

Orangutans are very adaptable creatures and can live in various habitats within the rainforest.

For example, they have been known to live in wet swamp forests and low-lying areas near rivers or floodplains. They are also found in tropical rainforests, dense forests filled with various trees and plants.

Now that you know a little about the habitat of orangutans, let’s take a closer look at where the different orangutan species live.

1. Bornean Orangutans

The Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) are the largest species of orangutan found on the island of Borneo. There is only an estimated population of 104,700 Bornean orangutans left.

This species is divided into three subspecies: northwest Bornean, northeast Bornean, and central Bornean orangutans.

  • The northwest Bornean orangutans live in Batang Ai National Park and Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary in Sarawak, Betung Kerihun National Park, and Danau Sentarum National Park in Kalimantan.
  • The northeast Bornean orangutans are the smallest in size and inhabit the area around the Kinabatangan River in Sabah, which is located in the northeastern part of the island. They can also be found in Kalimantan’s Berau and Kutai national parks.
  • The central Bornean orangutans are the most widespread subspecies and are found in Sabangau National Park, Tanjung Puting National Park, Belantikan, Mawas, and Gunung Palung National Park. These parks are all located in Kalimantan.

Alba, the only known albino orangutan, is a Bornean orangutan, most likely a central Bornean orangutan, as she was found and rescued in the Mawas area.

2. Sumatran Orangutans

The Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) are the smallest orangutan species and are only found on the island of Sumatra.

According to the IUCN Red List, there are only an estimated  13,846 Sumatran orangutans left.

sumatran orangutan hanging on a tree with a baby orangutan

3. Tapanuli Orangutans:

The Tapanuli orangutans (Pongo tapanuliensis) are the most recently discovered orangutan species.

They were first described in 2017 and are only found in the Batang Toru Ecosystem in North Sumatra.

This species is the most endangered of all the orangutans, with an estimated population of only 800 individuals.

What is the ideal habitat for orangutans?

The ideal habitat for orangutans is a tropical rainforest with an average temperature of 20 to 28° Celsius. This type of environment is found in the Southeast Asian countries of Sumatra and Borneo.

The rainforest provides plenty of food and shelter for these animals and the tall trees they need to build their nests.

However, due to human activity, their habitat is disappearing at an alarming rate.

It is estimated that 60% of the Orangutan’s natural habitat has been destroyed in the last four decades.

This destruction is mainly due to logging and illegal hunting. As a result, Orangutans are now considered to be critically endangered.

Where Do Orangutans Sleep?

Orangutans spend most of their time in trees, where they build nests to sleep in. Nests are usually made of branches and leaves, built high up in the trees so that orangutans can stay safe from predators.

These nests are usually built between 11 and 20 meters on a sturdy branch.

The orangutans will bend or break other branches to create a basic foundation. They will then add smaller branches to create a ‘mattress.’

Some orangutans add premium features to their nests, such as blankets (made by covering themselves with large leafy branches), pillows (made by clumping such branches together), or a roof (made by loosely braiding branches above their heads).

Orangutans usually build a new nest every night but sometimes use the same one multiple nights.

orangutan sitting in a nest

Are Orangutans Active at Night?

Orangutans are diurnal animals. This means they are active during the day and sleep at night. They usually sleep in their nests, built high up in the trees.

During the day, orangutans spend most of their time in trees, eating fruits and leaves. While they come down to the ground occasionally, they usually avoid doing so as it puts them at risk from predators.

Orangutans are very good climbers with long arms and strong hands to help them move through the trees. Their powerful grip also allows them to swing from branch to branch easily.

Final Thoughts

Orangutans are incredible animals that make their homes in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo.

However, their habitat is threatened by human activity, and they are now considered critically endangered. 

Understanding their habitat and needs can help ensure these animals are around for generations.


Do orangutans live in groups?

Orangutans are generally solitary creatures, only coming together to mate. However, there have been instances of them living in small groups.
These groups usually consist of a mother and her offspring.

Do orangutans live in zoos?

Orangutans can be found in zoos all over the world.
These zoos provide a safe environment for these animals to live in and the necessary resources for their care and well-being.

Do orangutans live in Africa?

No, orangutans are only found in Southeast Asia.
More specifically, they are found on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

How long do orangutans live?

In the wild, orangutans can live up to 30-40 years old. However, they can live much longer in captivity, with some individuals living up to 60 years old.

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