What do baboons eat in the wild?
Baboons eat both meat and vegetation by foraging in the wild. It can feed on its prey’s flesh, grasses, leaves, seeds, flowers, buds, roots, bark, shoots, shrubs, berries, and various other fruits when in the wild.
It can even eat plant sap by sucking it out of the shoot and branches to fulfill its water requirements.
They are opportunistic feeders and will eat practically anything they get at the moment. And so, just like the other monkeys, vegetation is not a regular part of its diet in the wild.
Although their main source of food is fresh fruits, roots, grass, seeds, and leaves. But, very often they can be also seen hunting and eating insects, worms, spiders, small mammals, birds, etc.
They have been also seen to feed upon dead animals. This is not so common but they do so when they feel there’s a scarcity of good food for them.
Their digestive system is really very strong and active, and due to their such feeding adaptation, they are able to survive and get their required nutrition in almost any environment with different foraging tactics.
So, baboons being opportunistic eaters, well-match their food habits to that of the humans. And, many recent studies have also shown that there is a very common relationship between humans’ and baboons’ gut microbes.
The role of gut microbes is to control digestion and benefit the immune system. And, as both humans and baboons have almost the same microbe species, this gives a good light into the food habits and digestive physiology of baboons as well.
So, such adaptation is also one of the reasons why they are able to inhabit semi-arid regions like the savannas, bushlands, rocky mountains, hilly locations, rocky deserts, steppe, and grassy sub-desert regions.
Is a baboon predator or prey?
Baboons can be both a predator and prey. As baboons hunt for birds, insects, other small mammals, snakes, lizards, etc they are called predators.
And, as they are being eaten by other big animals like lions, cheetah, leopards, crocodiles, hyenas, wild dogs, etc. they are also called prey animals.
Even humans are known to prey upon baboons for meat. Many local tribes of Africa are known to hunt and feed upon baboons.
Baboons as predators are not only limited to up in the tree for foraging purposes. In fact, they are known to search for food on all levels of an ecological environment, above and beneath the ground and in the canopy of the forests.
Meaning that as predators they are ready to find and hunt animals both on land and up the tree. They are mostly seen to prey on land-dwelling species and so they can spend most of the time on land for a hunt.
And, when they are on land they can also be easy prey for lions, cheetahs, leopards, etc.
Baboons are being preyed on when they are away from their troop, or if the troop is noticeably small then the other big cats like lions and leopards may take the chance to go after them for a kill.
Baboons are known for having cheek pouches that extend down the sides of their neck and these cheek pouches can hold a stomach’s worth of food.
So, when they are on the ground foraging for food, they do quickly fill up their cheek pouches with food as fast as they can and then they retreat up the trees. This saves them from being killed by predators.
Do baboons eat meat? What meat do they eat?
Yes, baboons do eat meat. They eat both meat and vegetation and so, they are often seen hunting for lion cubs, leopard cubs, other monkeys, flamingoes, snakes, lizards, small rodents, and even various other insects.
In many locations, they have been also seen hunting for shrimps, crabs, water birds, and even the fishes.
They are also known for feeding on the eggs of birds, non-venomous small snakes, and various other lizards.
When lion cubs are not attended by the adult lions they do steal the cubs, play with them, and ultimately kill them to feast upon them.
Baboons not only steal lion cubs, but they are also known to steal leopard cubs as well when the mother is not there protecting her cubs, maybe because she is out for a hunt.
They are also known to attack water birds like flamingoes. They do so by leaping over the birds in shallow water.
For example, Hamadryas baboons are famous for hunting birds like Egyptian geese by approaching near to the water bodies.
Baboons are also known to attack Antelope lambs by snatching them and eating them alive in front of their mothers.
They do even eat other monkeys and primates. For example, Chacma baboons have been observed for preying upon Vervet monkeys at Kruger National Park.
They are very intelligent animals and so are also known for hunting on small rodents like rabbits, rats, etc. by taking them out and killing them after digging their burrows.
For example, the Oliva Baboons of Kenya are well-popular for feeding on the various small rodents and even on the mammals like young Thomson’s Gazelle.
Olive Baboons are also known for entering into the farms of the locals and hunting their livestock like sheep, goats, and chickens.
It is to be noted that meat food containing gazelles, fish like trout, rodents, and other small mammals nearly make up around 1/3rd of baboon’s diet, and the rest 2/3rd of baboon’s diet is fulfilled by feeding upon vegetation.
What do baboons eat in the zoo?
In the zoo, baboons are well-fed with both meat and vegetational foods. They are fed with fruits, seeds, grains, leaves, commercial monkey chow, bean shoots, fresh hay, browse, primate cake mixed with various supplements as per their feeding routines.
Supplements added with Vitamin B12 are mostly added to the food they eat as per the prescribed measure.
The only supplements baboons require are Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D in
accordance with veterinary advice.
And that, they are provided food at least twice a day, with additional activity feeds offered on a daily basis.
Fruits and vegetables are included in their diet at least once a day. These can include apples, pears, peas, carrots, potatoes, bananas, watermelon, cucumber, capsicum, and cauliflower that are roughly chopped up or thrown unchopped to them.
For the additional activity feeds daily primate pellets, pumpkin seeds, cracked corn, sunflower seeds, peanuts, dried fruit mix, almonds, and frozen blocks of ice with fruit and vegetables are provided to them.
At least once a week they are provided with freshly cut boneless chicken, goat, or beef meat pieces. This fulfills their protein requirements.
They are also fed with grasses and browse at least once a week to fulfill their dietary requirements.
CONLUSION: Are baboons herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores? What do you think?
In the end, we can finally conclude that baboons are omnivores and so they follow an omnivorous diet that includes both meat and vegetation.
As per the diet that can eat the meat of small rodents, small mammals, and even snakes, and lizards.
And, as per the vegetational diet they can feed upon a wide variety of plants, shoots, leaves, buds, flowers, fruits, and roots.
And so, for having an omnivorous diet they occupy the third trophic level alongside meat-eating carnivores in the food chain of the ecosystem they are in.
Since omnivores hunt and are hunted, they can be both predators and prey. So, baboons are also listed as being both a predator and prey.
Baboons have 32 teeth in total with a more evolutionarily primitive dental formula of 18.104.22.168.
For example, the formula 22.214.171.124 for upper teeth indicates the presence of 2 incisors, 1 canine, 2 premolars, and 3 molars on one side of the upper mouth.
So, it is cleared that all baboons have 2 pairs of sharp canine teeth, one pair in each jaw.
They use their canine teeth to rip skin and tear away meat from the body of their prey. And, this is their meat-eating adaptation for being omnivorous animals.
So, being omnivores they have sharp canine teeth for ripping through the skin and muscle tissues of their prey, and that they also have flat molar teeth for grinding and eating plants.