Fun Rhino Facts

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1. There are five different species of rhinoceros

Three are from southern Asia and two are from Africa. They are the Black Rhinoceros, White Rhinoceros, Indian Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros and Sumatran Rhinoceros.

2. The name rhinoceros means ‘nose horn’ and is often shortened to rhino.

It comes from the Greek words rhino (nose) and ceros (horn).  

3. White rhinoceros are the second largest land mammal

The white rhino is the largest rhino species and can weigh over 3500 kg (7700 lb) and is the largest land mammal after the elephant.  Elephants can grow to be 7,000 kg (15,000 lb)

4. Rhinos can grow to over 6 feet tall and more than 11 feet in length.

5. Three of the five rhinoceros species are listed as being critically endangered.

The Black Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros and Sumatran Rhinoceros are all Critically Endangered which means they have 50% chance of becoming extinct in three generations.

6. Rhinoceros have thick, sensitive skin.

Rhino skin maybe thick but it can be quite sensitive to sunburns and insect bites which is why they like wallow so much – when the mud dries it acts as protection from the sunburns and insects.

 7. Relative to their large body size, rhinoceros have small brains.

But this doesn’t mean they are stupid

8. 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. The longest known on a black rhino was 4 feet 9 inches long (they average about 20 inches in length on the black rhino).

9. Some rhinos use their teeth – not their horns – for defence.

When a greater one-horned rhino is threatened it slashes and gouges with its long, sharp incisors and canine teeth of its lower jaw.

10. Rhinoceros are herbivores (plant eaters).

They have to eat a lot to fill their large bodies

11. A group of rhinoceros is called a ‘herd’ or a ‘crash’.

12. Despite their name, White and Black Rhinoceros are actually gray.

The white rhino’s name is taken from the Afrikaans word “weit,” which means “wide” and describes its mouth. Early English settlers in South Africa misinterpreted the "weit" for "white". Black rhinos probably got their name from the dark wet mud in their wallows that made them appear black in colour.  Both species are essentially gray in colour.

13. The closest living rhino “relatives” are tapirs, horses and zebras.
They are part of a group of mammals called odd-toed ungulates.

14. Rhinos are speed machines

They can run up to 30 – 40 miles per hour; the fastest human can run 15 miles an hour, so finding a tree to climb is a better strategy than trying to outrun a rhino! 

15. Rhino pregnancies last forever

Or at least it might fee like it, they are pregnant for 15-16 months!  Mother rhinos are very nurturing. The young stay with them until they are approximately 3 years old.

16. Rhinos have poor eyesight, but very well-developed senses of olfaction (smell) and hearing. 

A rhino has difficulty detecting someone standing only a hundred feet away if the individual remains still.  However, if the person makes the faintest sound or the rhino is able to smell the person, it will easily detect him, even at much greater distances. The olfactory portion is the largest area of the rhino’s brain.    

17. African rhinos are a good 'home' for oxpeckers

The oxpecker eats ticks and other insects that it finds on the rhino, and creates a commotion when it senses danger. This helps alert the rhino.

18. Rhino's communicate by doing a poo!

 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/male or female. They also tell other rhinos that this is their territory. 

19. Rhinos have been around for over 50 million years

They haven't changed much since prehistoric times (though of course they tended to be a lot woollier back then!) Some of the first rhinos didn’t have horns and once roamed throughout North America and Europe. No rhino species have ever inhabited the South American or Australian continents.  

20. The Sumatran rhino is the closest living relative of this ancient extinct woolly rhino.

These rhinos had thick, shaggy coats and were hunted by early humans and are depicted in cave paintings dating back more than 30,000 years ago. 

21. What you eat matters

The black rhino has a hooked lip which allows it to feed on trees and shrubsThe white rhino has a long, flat upper lip perfect for grazing on grasses. The upper lips of the three Asian rhino species allow these animals to browse vegetation in tropical forest habitats.

22. The Javan rhino is the world’s rarest land mammal. 

Less than 50 individuals survive in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park, this is the only population and none exist in zoos

23. Not all rhinos are solitary creatures. 

White rhinos commonly live in extended family groups, particularly females and their calves, and can sometimes be seen in large numbers. The greatest concentrations or densities, however, appear to be those of greater one-horned rhinos in India’s Kaziranga National Park, where visitors can typically see more than a dozen individuals at one time and as many as 50 in a single day!  

24. Rhino horn is used in traditional Asian medicine

Powdered rhino horn is commonly used to reduce heat from the body for things like fever; it is wrongly believed to have detoxifying qualities.

25. Fighting rhinos

Black rhinos fight each other and have the highest rate of death among mammals in fights among the same species. Fifty percent of males and 30% of females die from these intra-species fights.

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