How a chimpanzee defends itself

Written by arlen hershey
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How a chimpanzee defends itself
Chimpanzees can be peaceful but will defend themselves when necessary. (chimpanzee thinking image by Xavier MARCHANT from

Chimpanzees have a gentle reputation but can be aggressive and dangerous wild animals. They will defend themselves and their young from potential predators, people, or other chimpanzees. A chimpanzee will use different methods of defence depending on the threat it faces. The level of aggression will increase as the chimpanzee feels more and more threatened.


If a chimpanzee feels threatened, its first reaction is to put on energetic displays. This behaviour is especially common in male chimpanzees. The display often includes banging on objects, jumping or running, and "piloerection," which means all the fur on the body sticks out to make the chimpanzee look larger and more intimidating than it is.


Chimpanzees communicate frequently by vocalising or calling out to one another. Most of the time, these vocalisation are used casually for chimpanzees to communicate with one another. However, if a chimpanzee is trying to startle someone or something in order to defend itself, it will scream and shriek. Primatologists have observed many defensive calls including the pant-grunt and the pant-scream.


A chimpanzee will use a balled-up fist at the end of the very muscular arm to punch its enemy. This isn't often the chimpanzee's first choice in defence, but if the enemy is within range the chimpanzee will have no problem letting one fly.


Biting is another desperate, aggressive form of chimpanzee defence. Chimpanzees have sharp canines it will use in a fight. Chimpanzees held in captivity have been known to bite their owners, often taking off fingers or other body parts.

Weapon Use

Scientists like Jane Goodall observed some chimpanzee troupes defending themselves with weapons. The chimps were seen throwing rocks and nuts at foes or swinging large branches to ward off enemies

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