Continuing our huge land animal series, we just have to discuss these gigantic and iconic beasts – rhinoceros. These animals are very special in a lot of ways and deserve to be talked about. So, let’s do just that! Let’s talk about 15 Unbelievable Facts About Rhinoceros.
- There are 5 different species of rhinos. The black rhino and the white rhino, which live in Africa, and the Sumatran, Javan and Indian (or greater one-horned) rhino, which inhabit the tropical forests and swamps of Asia.
- The largest of the five species is the white rhino. They often are 1.8 meters or about 5’10 tall and weigh about 2500 kilograms or 5500 pounds. The white rhinos are sometimes considered to be larger than hippos, making them second largest land animals after elephants.
- Perhaps the single most iconic physical characteristic of rhinos are their horns. Their horns grow out of their snouts – that’s why they’re called rhinoceros, which means “nose horn”.
- Javan and Indian rhinos have one horn, where as the white, black and Sumatran rhinos have two.
- Clearly, these animals are huge and powerful, but fortunately, they’re herbivores and don’t prey on other animals (including humans), for food. Instead, they consume huge amounts of grass and plants on a daily basis. In fact, white rhinos spend about half of their days eating and they eat, on average, about 55 kilograms or 120 pounds of grass a day. They eat in the night-time, but also at dusk and dawn.
- Rhinos have between 24 to 34 large teeth, depending on the species.
- On top of that, because of their huge natural size, strength and, let’s be honest, those huge horns – rhinos have no real predators that prey on them. Excluding occasional humans, of course.
- Speaking of humans, we are perhaps the single biggest reason for why rhino populations have been greatly reduced – from about 500,000 in the beginning of the 20th century, to about 29,000 today. This is due to hunting, poaching and habitat loss – all caused by humans. And even today, they are often illegally hunted for their precious horns. You see, there’s a large market for their horns, largely because it is believed, by some people, that the keratin, which is the material that their horns are made from (and our nails and hair), has medicinal properties, even though evidence for that is pretty much non-existent. The situation is so bad for our rhino friends, that 3 out of 5 rhino species are considered to be endangered.
- Rhinos have terrific hearing and smelling senses, but horrible eyesight – they often struggle to see anything 30 meters or 33 yards away from them.
- Rhinos are actually pretty solitary animals and they tend not to interact with each other. However, white rhinos are the most social species of rhinos and they sometimes live in groups, called “crashes” (pretty self-explanatory). These crashes are often made up of a single female and her offspring, but, on rare occasions, there are several females (called “cows”) in these groups.
- Male rhinos (known as “bulls”), on the other hand, like to live alone, unless it’s mating season. They’re also very territorial and they mark their territories with poop. As a matter of fact, rhinos use their poop to “communicate” with each other, because each individual rhino’s poop smells different.
- Rhinos are, however, often seen with birds on them and there are very good reasons for why that is. Oxpeckers (or “tick birds”), are often seen on the backs of rhinos, because they feed on the parasitic insects that live in rhinos skin. So rhinos get “cleansed” of these parasites and these birds have a meal – symbiotic relationship. These birds have also been known to warn rhinos of potential danger by making loud cries.
- Rhinos tend to spend their days either eating grass and plants, or wallowing in mud, because mud creates and extra protective layer which helps to protect their skin from sun rays and bugs.
- The gestation period of rhinos is about 15 to 16 months and rhino females often give birth to just one baby rhino, as twins are rare. Baby rhinos (called “calves”) stay with their mothers until they are about 2 to 3 years of age.
- The average lifespan of rhinos differs depending on their species. For example, white rhinos tend to live for about 40 to 50 years, black rhinos – 35 to 50 years and Indian rhinos usually die at 35 to 45 years of age, in the wild. And that’s it for the 15 Unbelievable Facts About Rhinoceros.
And that’s it folks. Clearly, rhinos are amazing and gigantic herbivores who are actually not that dangerous, as long as their territories are not invaded. But we are dangerous to them and, because of illegal hunting (mainly for their horns), they are slowly becoming extinct. So, I think that anyone who cares about our horned-friends, should try to not buy any products made from rhinos, donate to charities that take care of them and spread awareness (like this article). And that’s it for the 15 Unbelievable Facts About Rhinoceros.