Rhinoceros animal<<<< Back to wild animals
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Perissodactyla
- Family: Rhinocerotidae
- Conservation status: Endangered
- Size: 1.5 - 2.5 m (50 - 85 in)
- Weight: 800kg - 3.5t (1700 -7700 lbs)
- Food: Herbivore ( Plants, Grass)
- Speed: 50 km/h (31 mph)
- Predators: Lion, Hyena, Wild cats
- Sexual Maturity: females: 6-7 years, males: 10-14 years
- Gestation Period: 15 - 18 months
- Population: Less than 100 to 5.000
- Lifespan: 30 - 50 years
- Litter size: 1 calf
- Distinctive Feature: Hard, thick skin and two large horns.
The rhino is part of the Rhinocerotidae family. Of the five species existing, two are native to Africa and three to South Asia. The word rhinoceros derived from Latin and is composed of two words: 'nose' and 'horn'. In Africa two species are met: white rhino and black rhino.
The two species differ by about 5 million years. The main difference between white and black rhinos is the shape of the mouth; white rhinos have broad and flat lip adapted to grazing and black rhinos prefer leaves.
All rhinos are herbivores. Some eat grass, others buds or leaves. As large animals they eat a lot. They can use their lips as a finger to gather or to tear out food. Water is very important for rhinos. They don’t only quench their thirst with it but swim and spalsh around in mud.
The mud layer protects the skin from insect bites. Egrets and other birds sit on the back of the rhino feeding and clearing it of parasites.
The rhino, after the elephant, is the largest land animal along with the hippo who has similar size. It has a huge head that continues with a body to match. It can exceed 3.5 tons, it has a length of 4.6m and a height of 1.8-2m. On the muzzle it has two horns, the front horn is larger, reching lengths of up to 90cm. The scruff is big and muscular to support the relatively large head. The colors vary from white-yellowish to brown-black.
The only part with hair, or one of the few, is found around the ear and tail. Rhinos are not very sociable, usually preferring to live alone or in small groups with the mother and baby. Rhinos can run short distances with the possibility of a sprint reaching 45km/h. Males will often fight to protect their territory or when mating. They mark their territories with urine and dung samples that can reach up to 3m in height.
- The White Rhinoceros
- The Black Rhinoceros
- The Indian Rhinoceros
- The Javan Rhinoceros
- The Sumatran Rhinoceros
Rhinos are endangered mainly due to hunting. They were shot for trophies, but the main reason for being killed is their horn. The horn is not attached to the skull and is made from keratin fibers, the same material found in hair and nails. Rhinos are protected by law, but despite this, poaching continues.
Baby rhinos squeak and adult rhinos make sounds that man can not perceive and that can be heard over long distances, even in the woods.
Females reach sexual maturity at 6-7 years of age while males reach it between 10 and 12 years. Courtship is often a difficult matter. The male announces its approach by sound. Chases occur if the female tries to leave the territory or if she squeals or screams loudly. When the female is ready to mate, they copulate for half an hour. After mating the pair stays together for 5 to 20 days. Gestation lasts 16-18 months until a calf comes out, weighing between 40 and 65kg.
In case of danger the calf will run in front of its mother, who will protect him and fight for if necessary. Weaning starts at 2 months; suckling can continue for up to 12 months. Calves are born every 2-3 years. Rhinos have a longevity of 40-50 years. Adults do not have natural predators due to their huge size, not even the young ones, the latter being rarely attacked.
Did you know that:
All rhino species are endangered.
It was hunted almost to extinction: since 1970 rhino population has declined by 90%.
The rhino is in danger due to habitat loss and poaching.
At birth, the black rhino calf weighs 40kg.