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Do Monkeys Peel Bananas?

If you google how to peel a banana, you might be left scratching your head from so many options.

Wikihow, a famous publication featuring how-to articles, describes 8 ways how to peel a banana. One of them includes twisting the banana skin as you would do with a wet towel. Seriously?!

And ever since we were kids, we have associated bananas with monkeys. Check any video, photo, or cave painting of monkeys, and you will find people talking about monkeys and bananas. Just kidding about the paintings. 

Monkeys like eating various fruits and prefer ripe and overripe bananas, although they might bite into greener fruit to see if it is edible. 

So, it’s not hard to wonder: if they like the fruit so much, do monkeys peel bananas?

The short answer is: Yes, most monkeys peel bananas before eating them. If they feel very hungry, monkeys might even eat the entire banana without removing the skin or phloem bundles. 

This answer requires a bit more explanation, as it’s not as simple as it seems. 

do monkeys peel bananas

Monkeys Can’t Really Pick Bananas In The Wild

In the wild, monkeys are unlikely to ever encounter modern bananas. The store-bought Cavendish bananas as we know them today are cultivated and domesticated plants. To get them to be long, big, and yellow, people have spent over 6000 years on breeding. 

Before that, wild bananas were (and still are) hard, short, full of seeds, and didn’t peel like modern ones. The inside of modern bananas is a lot sweeter than the skin; in those wild bananas, that’s not the case.

That’s the main reason why monkeys love modern bananas so much, because of the sugar.

How Do Monkeys Peel Bananas?

monkey peeling a banana

Monkeys peel bananas the way they feel in the moment. Most monkeys will peel a banana from the bottom: they will bite the finger tip (front end) to tear the fruit open and use their fingers to peel the rest of the skin. 

Some will bite the banana around its middle, make a tear big enough to grab the peel with their fingers, and then proceed to peel the banana. 

And on some occasions, larger monkeys will break the banana from the stem and then proceed to peel it. 

The main problem with all those “eat a banana the monkey way” videos you find on the internet is that different monkeys eat bananas in different ways. Thanks to their sharp teeth and flexible fingers, monkeys have several options when it comes to peeling bananas. 

Whether from the finger tip (bottom), the crown (stem part), or the side, a monkey will do as the monkey feels.

And those short wild bananas monkeys ate/still eat in the wild? 

Most of the time, monkeys will eat them together with the skin. Sometimes from one end, sometimes from the other, but usually from the side.

If a monkey didn’t want to eat the peel, it would take a bite from the side and then split it open and eat the inside while holding the skin in his hand.

Will A Monkey Eat The Skin Of A Banana?

macaque monkey eating banana skin

A monkey may or may not eat the banana peel; it depends on how hungry it feels. If there is enough food around it, a monkey will just eat the inside body of a banana; if the food is scarce, it might even eat the skin. 

Read More: Hand Or Paw – What One Do Monkeys Have?

They Might Love Them, But Bananas Are Actually Bad For Monkeys

When given bananas, monkeys will definitely take them. Most monkeys are frugivores and enjoy all sorts of fruits. The only fruit monkeys prefer more than banana is grapes. 

Monkeys and apes are not stupid and enjoy eating tasty bananas once they are exposed to them.

However, due to their high sugar and low fiber content, bananas might cause weight gain, tooth decay, and diabetes in monkeys. That’s why one zoo in England banned monkeys from eating bananas. 

What was the effect of that? 

Zookeepers there claimed that “reducing the sugar in their diets has calmed the monkeys down and made their group more settled”.

What About Apes? Do Apes Peel Bananas?

Apes are a lot bigger but a lot less sophisticated than monkeys. Some apes will peel bananas by splitting them in half first, others will just eat the whole fruit. 

Some orangutans will use their flexible lips and teeth to open the banana from the bottom, while others will just swallow them whole, together with the skin.

Chimpanzees, like the orangutans, will peel a banana with the lips, eat the inside part and throw away the skin. 

Gorillas will do as they feel: peel the banana, break it in half and then squeeze the inside parts into its mouth, or just swallow it whole together with the skin.  

monkeys ribbon

Final Thoughts

If you were pondering on the question “do monkeys peel bananas”, we hope this article removed all doubts. 

Monkeys might be closely associated with bananas, but in the wild, they will rarely find them. Monkeys that live in zoos or labs will get their share of bananas from humans; occasionally they might raid some banana plantation near their habitat.

Either way, monkeys will mostly peel bananas from the bottom, tearing the fruit with their teeth and then peeling off the skin. They will even eat those banana “strings,” which are scientifically called “phloem bundles”.

And in case you seem to find a monkey in the wild, avoid giving it bananas – they are too sweet for monkeys and might cause some health issues to the primate.

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