Common Chimpanzee

The common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), also known as the robust chimpanzee, is a great ape.

Basic facts

Common chimpanzees are found in the tropical forests and wet savannas of Western and Central Africa. They once inhabited most of this region, but their habitat has been dramatically reduced in recent years.

Adults in the wild weigh between 88 and 143 lbs (40 and 65 kg). Males can measure up to 63 inches (160 cm) and females up to 51 inches (130 cm). They are lighter than humans and have a pull five to six times stronger. This is because the muscles of chimpanzees and other primates are far more effective than those of humans. A coarse, dark brown hair covers their bodies. They are brown except for the face, fingers, toes, and palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Both their thumbs and their big toes are opposable, allowing a precision grip. Their pregnancy period is eight months. Infants are weaned when they are about three years old, but usually maintain a close relationship with their mother for several more years. They reach puberty at the age of eight to ten, and their lifespan in captivity is about fifty years.

Although omnivores, their diet is mainly vegetarian. It consists of fruits, leaves, nuts, seeds, tubers, and miscellaneous plant life. They also eat insects and small prey.


Common chimpanzees live in communities that typically range from twenty to more than 150 members, but spend most of their time traveling in small parties of just a few individuals. They spend equal time in the trees and on the ground. They use the soles of their feet and rest on their knuckles, but they can walk upright for short distances. Common chimpanzees are ‘knuckle walkers’, like gorillas. The Common chimpanzee lives may be found in groups of all-male, adult females and offspring. They consist of sexes, one female and her offspring, or a single individual. At the core of social structures are males. They roam around, protect group members, and search for food. Among males, there is generally a dominance hierarchy. Communities have large ranges that overlap with those of other groups.

Individual chimpanzees often forage for food alone, or in smaller groups. These smaller groups also emerge in a variety of types, for a variety of purposes. The structure of their societies is highly complicated.