Orangutans are the only great ape that is mainly arboreal, or living in trees. They often have very little need to come down from the trees. They are the largest living tree mammal in the world. The other great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and humans) do climb, but are semi-terrestrial, which means they spend a lot of their time on the ground. 

Orangutans have remarkable abilities for traveling through the forest canopy. They have very flexible hip joints that allow them to be very mobile. Orangutans also have big toes, which allows them to grasp and hold just like a hand! 

The orangutans make their homes in the forest trees where they are able to forage for food. They are also known to sometimes make day nests for resting, and night nests out of leaves and branches. These trees and nests can even sometimes be 120 feet about the ground! 

Check out this orangutan reaching and grasping with their long limbs!

Orangutans have unique adaptations to their life in the treetops, which include:

  • Feet designed like hands for climbing
  • Flexible hips for holding on to branches in any direction
  • Long arms for reaching 
  • Long, strong hands and feet