Whether it’s a cozy bed, a comfy couch, or a hammock, there’s nothing quite like a good night's sleep. And it seems that the great apes agree, as evidenced by the way they meticulously select the perfect spot to tuck in each night. According to a new study published in PLOS One, wild chimpanzees choose the stiffest, most resilient wood to construct their sleeping nests. The researchers found that the apes prefer Cynometra alexandri—more commonly known as Ugandan ironwood—to make their beds. It makes sense, as this sturdy tree provides a strong platform to rest on and offers the security of nearby trees that can act as an escape route in case predators come calling.
The apes also take care to select branches that have the highest bending strength—the higher the bending strength, the more likely a branch is to support the chimp’s weight while they snooze. The scientists believe this is because the apes want their beds to last as long as possible.
Here at the sanctuary, chimps are provided with a variety of comfortable and diverse nesting materials including hay, blankets, toys and wood wool to encourage their creativity. They are given complete artistic freedom when it comes to nest making and we often see them incorporating these materials into their nests. We can only imagine the comfort that would be offered by a chimp’s bed made from these materials!