Fascinating Rhino Facts

  • The closest living rhino relatives are tapirs, horses and zebras, which all are part of a group of mammals called odd-toed ungulates.
  • The white rhino has four stumpy feet. Each foot has three toes to help distribute its enormous weight.
  • Black rhinos’ mouths are designed for eating foliage, while white rhinos’ lips are broad and flat, better for grazing.
  • Rhinos are quite fast and can run up to 48 to 65 kilometres per hour.
  • The rhino is very agile and can quickly turn in a small space.
  • Every two and a half to five years, a female rhino will reproduce.
  • Rhino pregnancies can last for 15 to16 months. The young stay with their mothers until they are approximately 3 years old.
  • At birth, baby rhinos, which are called calves, are quite big at 40 to 64 kg.
  • Rhino maturity is reached at about 6 years of age.
  • A rhino can live up to 45 years.
  • They are commonly seen in groups of about 10 to 15 individuals, in a well organized social structure.
  • Rhinos have poor eyesight, which is probably why they will sometimes charge without apparent reason, but very well-developed senses of olfac-tion (smell) and hearing.


  • Rhinos are also rather ill-tempered and have become more so in areas where they have been constantly disturbed.
  • The olfactory (smell) portion is the largest area of the rhino’s brain.
  • The oxpecker, a type of bird, normally sits on the rhino and eats ticks and other insects it finds on the rhino’s skin. It creates a commotion when it senses danger and this helps alert the rhino.
  • Rhinos use piles of dung to leave “messages” for other rhinos. Each rhino’s smell is unique and identifies its owner. It can also tell a rhino if the other rhino is young/old or male/female. They also tell other rhinos that this is their territory.
  • When rhinos are happy, they make a loud “mmwonk” sound with their mouths.
  • Black rhinos use a variety of sounds to convey emotion: snorts for anger, huffs for greetings and even confused squeaks.
  • The name rhinoceros, which is often shortened to rhino, means “Nose Horn” and comes from the Greek words rhino (nose) and ceros (horn).
  • Rhinos spend their days and nights grazing and only sleep during the hottest parts of the day.
  • There are five different species of rhinoceros – three native to southern Asia and two from Africa. They are the Black Rhinoceros, White Rhinoceros, Indian Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros and Sumatran  Rhinoceros.
  • All five species of rhinoceros can grow to weigh over 1000 kg.
  • The largest rhino species is the white rhino, which grows up to 3.7 to 4 meters long and up to 1.8 m from hoof to shoulder. It weighs around 2300 kg.
  • Three of the five rhinoceros species are listed as being critically endangered -the Black Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros and Sumatran Rhinoceros.
  • Rhinoceros’ skin may be thick but it can be quite sensitive to sunburn and insect bites which is why they like to wallow so much – when the mud dries it acts as protection from sunburn and insects.
  • An adult rhino’s skin can be as much as 5 cm thick, with a typical range of thickness across species being 1.5 to 5 cm thick.
  • Relative to their large body size, rhinoceros have small brains.
  • Rhinoceros horns are made from a protein called keratin, the same substance that fingernails and hair are made of.
  • The rhino’s horn is not bone and is not attached to its skull; it is also not hollow like elephant tusks. It is actually a compacted mass of hairs that continues to grow throughout the animal’s lifetime, just like our own hair and nails.
  • Rhinoceros are often hunted by humans for their horns.
  • If the horn breaks off, the rhino can grow a new one.
  • Rhinoceros are herbivores (plant eaters).
  • Some rhinos use their teeth – not their horns – for defence. When a rhino is threatened, it slashes and gouges with its long, sharp incisors and canine teeth of its lower jaw.
  • A group of rhinoceros is called a ‘herd’ or a ‘crash’.
  • Despite their name, White and Black Rhinoceros are actually gray.







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