15 Simple Rhino Facts


Rhinos are one of the largest representatives of the animal kingdom on the planet, and amaze with their power, strength and unusual appearance. These unique creatures have become a kind of hallmark of Africa, but, in addition to African ones, Asian rhinos also live in nature. And although they differ in size and lifestyle, they are all united by the presence of such a “decoration” as a horn, similar habits, and the fact that all these animals became the object of human hunting, which almost led to their complete disappearance.

rhinoceros with a cub

1. There are a total of five different kinds of rhinos. And while you may think of them wandering through Africa, they’re also found throughout Asia. The types are the Black rhino and the White rhino—they live in Africa—and the Sumatran, Javan, and Indian (or greater one-horned) rhino—they live in the tropical forests and swamps of Asia. They are native to eastern and southern Africa, as well as India, Nepal, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

2. Rhinos are famous for their horns, and they were named for their signature feature. But the moniker isn’t super creative. The word rhinoceros is a literal mix of two Greek words that best describe how they look: rhino (nose) and ceros (horn).

3. Of the five remaining species of rhino, the white rhino is the heaviest, weighing up to 2300 kg (5000 pounds) while the Sumatran rhino is the smallest weighing in at around 1000 kg (2200 pounds). This is mighty impressive considering they mainly eat grass and leaves!

4. The names of black and white rhinos are misleading – as both are actually grey. The white rhino is said to have gotten its name from the Afrikaans word for wide (‘wyd’), referring to its wide, square lip, in contrast to the black rhino’s pointy upper lip. Early English explorers mistook this word for ‘white’ and consequently named this species ‘white’ rhino, and the other ‘black’ rhino to differentiate.

5. Despite its appearance, a rhino horn is not made of bone, instead the core substance of rhino horn is a protein called keratin, the same substance found in the fingernails and hair of many mammals (including humans). Keratin in a rhino horn is a compacted mass of hairs that grows throughout the life of a rhino.

6. For rhinos, snorts signal anger, huffs are greetings, while surprised squeaks often mean confusion. In addition to these forms of communication, rhino droppings are also meaningful. By smelling rhino droppings, rhinos can identify a variety of characteristics about its owner including the sex and approximate age of the rhino. The location of the droppings also marks territory for different groups of rhino.

7. Rhinos can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. The world’s fastest humans, by comparison, only reach speeds of 28 miles per hour in a short 100-meter sprint. Interestingly, while running their top speed, rhinos run on their toes.

8. Rhinos have incredibly dark, thick hides and often require mud baths to protect their skin from the sun, parasites and most importantly, to maintain skin moisture. Mud would often stay on its skin after a bath, which helps rhinos stay cool throughout longer periods and when travelling across vast lands without shades. Rhinos could take up to two mud baths a day, with each session lasting up to three hours.

9. Another one of the many interesting facts about rhinos is that while they tend to be solitary animals, they have a symbiotic relationship with birds. This is most notable with the African rhinos and the African Oxpeckers. The bird would often sit on a rhino’s back and feed off the insects on it. Birds would also provide warning calls should any potential danger or enemies that approaches – as rhinos are quite short-sighted.

10. The overall population of rhinos in the world is about 30,000. White rhinos are most prevalent due to rhino conservation, at about 20,000 and black Rhinos at about 5000. The remaining 5,000 are constituted by Indian rhinos, at 3,600, and Sumatran Rhinos, fewer than 200. A huge effort by International Rhino Foundation, Wildlife Conservation in the world has helped protect the white rhino population from poaching.

11. The ancestors of rhinos appeared on our planet several million years ago, while experts note the fact that many fossil species of rhinos were deprived of the main feature – the presence of a horn.

12. Rhinos are considered long-lived, because African subspecies in the wild live 30-40 years, and their Asian relatives can reach a respectable 70 years of age.

13. The hair of the rhinoceros is absent, almost completely, with the exception of the tip of the tail and the area of ​​the ears. A distinctive feature of the Sumatran rhinoceros is the presence of sparse brown hair on their body.

14. Rhinos are herbivores, so their diet consists entirely of plant foods. They mainly feed on the young shoots of various plants, and are not deterred by the fact that some plants grow sharp thorns, and the plant sap is rather caustic and unpleasant in taste. Feeding occurs either early in the morning or late in the evening when it is not hot. Every day, these animals visit a watering place, which is sometimes located at a considerable distance.

Rhinoceros and elephant

15. The behavior of rhinos is very controversial. On the one hand, these are calm and impassive creatures who are interested in how to profit and quickly find a cozy place to relax. On the other hand, rhinos have an explosive temperament and can go on a rampage. In general, these giants are very cautious, and try to avoid meeting with a person and everything that can be dangerous for them. Male rhinos rarely attack humans, this can only happen during the rut or when the animal is injured. But the females are forced to protect their cubs, so they rush at everyone who had the imprudence to approach them.