Have you tried to find the ideal tree in which you can build the best fort? Just the proper amount of shade and sun, thick branches to serve as a ladder, and maybe in a secluded location where none of your friends can find you? Similarly, Chimpanzees are very particular about where they build nests in the trees. Much like us when we want to find the perfect tree to build a treehouse, studies have shown that Chimpanzees prefer trees that repel troublesome insects or/and that provide comfortable and stable structures.
In the Kibale National Park in Uganda, scientists took 10 of the chimpanzees’ favorite nesting trees and placed them with 10 more random trees. All 20 species of the trees varied in their foliage density, shape size, and branch thickness. Just like when we are choosing a perfect tree to make a home in, Chimpanzees think of all the variables. They prefer trees with medium trunk size branches with stiffer wood that are higher off the ground.
Scientists observed how their sleeping patterns altered as they built their nests. Chimpanzees demonstrated improved sleep when they picked superior nesting materials such as stronger sticks and more comfy smaller leaves, similar to hanging a hammock in a tree. It has also been demonstrated that chimps prefer trees with less fruit. This was because they did not want other animals to come in and disrupt their slumber while attempting to eat some fruit from their new home.
In conclusion, Chimpanzees are very meticulous when it comes to nesting in trees. Similar to when we are told by our parents we can get one stuffed animal in the store, we don’t just grab the first one we see…right? Similarly, chimpanzees take their time in choosing the perfect tree to build nests in, and studies have shown that even in an area with multiple tree species, they use a specific process of elimination to build their perfect tree fort.
Lacroux, C., Krief, S., Douady, S. Camille Lacroux, Sabrina Krief, Stéphane Douady, Raphaël Cornette, Sophie Durand, Alfred Aleeje, Edward Asalu & Emmanuelle Pouydebat Chimpanzees select comfortable nesting tree species. Sci Rep 13, 16943 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-44192-6