Gorillas always sleep in nests that they build themselves. Whether these nests are on the ground or in trees depends entirely on certain circumstances. Females and young male gorillas seem to prefer the trees, while the huge silverbacks hardly ever sleep in the trees.
Other factors are used to determine whether their nightly nest is built in a tree or on the ground. Gorillas may build their nests in trees because they have plenty of vegetation from which to construct their nest. A nest built in a tree is made by layering small branches on top of the forks in larger branches to make a platform that can support their weight. Additionally, the height not only keeps them safer from perceived dangers than they would be on the ground, but allows them a vantage point from which to spot trouble.
If the gorilla discovers an area on the ground that seems safe, they will pull the branches from bushes and plants into a tight area and hook them together to anchor the nest. Other smaller plants are usually attached and bent inwards to make rim for the nest.
Each gorilla builds his or her own nest and they build a new one every night. The nest from the night before could be a few feet away, but they will always build a new one. In fact researchers who study gorillas and their behavior determine the population of gorillas by counting the nests.
Construction on the nests begins about one-half hour before it gets dark. Young gorillas sleep in the same nest with their mother until about the age of three, but the instinct to build a nest is strong in these young gorillas, and they tend to practice building their own nests while mother builds hers.
Posted 3435 day ago