With the availability of fresh leaves in short supply over the coming months, keepers are having to alter what they’re giving our leaf cutter ants.
Keeper Harley Hunt said: “Because the ants’ usual leaves are not available during the winter months and they have difficulty cutting the really thick evergreen leaves, we’ve had to look at what else we can provide for them.
“We’re giving them cauliflower and cabbage leaves and also kale, as well as supplementing with a small slice of fruit, such as apple, pear, banana and orange peel.”
Leaf cutter ants don’t actually eat the cut leaves, instead they carry them back to their nest where the pieces compost down to create a type of fungus which they eat.
Keepers collect leaves from around the 40-acre zoo site for our 3,000 plus colony and during spring and summer they’ll give them a wide variety of leaves, including maple, dock, oak, ornamental raspberry, ash, sycamore and hawthorn, although we’ve discovered they’re not fans of bamboo leaves!
Make sure you pay a visit to our custom-built exhibit in the indoor chimp viewing area the next time you’re on site and watch our active ants go about their day-to-day business!