If we take a closer look at Rhinoceros it seems as though they’re prehistoric creatures, real-time dinosaurs. Even though they date back millions of years to the Miocene era, they are mammals, just like us. There are five species and 11 subspecies of rhinoceros, some with two horns, and others with one.
Because the animals’ horns are used for their supposed healing properties, rhinos have been hunted nearly to extinction. Their horns are even sold as trophies or decorations. Are they indeed critically endangered? Do they need help? Read these eye-opening facts about rhinoceros and find out!
September 22nd is the World Rhino Day, a day to celebrate rhinos around the world and to raise awareness about the threats these magnificent creatures continue to face in the wild.
Ancestors of today’s rhinos roamed the Earth 50 million years ago.
There were once ‘woolly rhinos’ that walked the Earth in prehistoric times when the average temperature was much lower. It is thought that they died out about 10,000 years ago thanks to a combination of human hunting and dramatic climate change.
There are five different kinds of rhinos, the Black rhino and the White rhino in Africa, the Sumatran, Javan, and Indian (or greater one-horned) in the tropical forests and swamps of Asia.
The names of black and white rhinos are misleading, as both are actually grey.
They have a robust, cylindrical body with a large head, relatively short legs, and a short tail. The characteristic feature of these animalsis a large horn in the middle of their faces. Some species have a second, smaller horn.
The rhinoceros is generally found in thick forests and savannahs where there is plenty of food to eat and lots of cover for the rhino to hide in.
They are native to eastern and southern Africa, as well as India, Nepal, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Rhinos are famous for their horns, and they were named for their signature feature. The word rhinoceros is a mix of two Greek words that best describe how they look: rhino (nose) and ceros (horn).
Doctors in Asia have been using powdered rhino horn in their medicine for centuries.
According to the International Rhino Foundation, it’s been used to treat and cure many maladies, including aging, arthritis, asthma, chest cold, chicken pox, convulsions, coughs, demonic possession, diphtheria, and a laundry list of other illnesses.
Rhino horns are made of the protein keratin, the same stuff that makes up human hair and fingernails, and is basically a compacted mass that grows throughout the rhino’s life.
Rhinos are often de-horned as a preventative measure against poachers, but it’s important to leave a portion of the rhino’s horn for it to re-grow.
Rhino horns can grow back in about three years.
The longest rhino horn ever measured was just under 60 inches.
For the most part, rhinoceroses are solitary animals and pretty much avoid one another. But some species, particularly the white rhino, can live in groups, known as a ‘crash’.
White rhinoceros are the third largest land mammal after the African and Asian elephants.
The white rhinoceros is also the largest rhinoceros species and can weigh up to 6,000 pounds. Their heads alone can weigh up to 2,000 pounds, and they’re typically between 5 and 6 feet tall.
Relative to their large body size, rhinoceros have small brains. This does not mean that you should underestimate their intelligence!
They’re vegetarians that can eat up to 100 pounds of food a day. Depending on the species, they eat leaves, fruit, grasses, stems, and twigs.
You’d think that having a huge weapon right on your face would be an obvious instrument for battle, but some rhinos actually use their teeth when they need to win a fight.
Black rhinos seem to enjoy a row. They have the highest rate of death among mammals in fights, among the same species. 50% of males and 30% of females die from these intra-species fights.
Rhinos can sunburn easily and are also susceptible to bad bug bites. To remedy this, rhinos often take mud baths to put a protective layer between their skin and the Sun and pestering bugs.
Oxpeckers are small, colourful birds that eat insects and ticks off the backs of rhinos, keeping the rhinos free from some of the more annoying pests in the wild.
You likely won’t hear rhinos making noise because humans can’t hear it. Like elephants, rhinoceroses communicate using infrasonic frequencies that are below the human level of hearing.
Rhinos make up for their poor eyesight with their smell and hearing senses.
A full rhino pregnancy lasts more than a year-and-a-half.
Rhinos only give birth to one calf a year, and baby rhinos rarely meet their fathers. Once female and male rhinos mate, they go their separate ways, and female rhinos raise their young.
Rhinos are bulky animals, but they are not slow. A black rhinoceros can run up to 30 miles per hour.
The closest living “relatives” to the rhinoceros are horses, zebra, and tapirs. They all belong to a group of mammals called odd-toed ungulates.
Today, it’s estimated that there is only a total of 29,000 rhinos left in the wild, compared to 500,000 at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Rhinos face few predators even while juvenile. They can be attacked by large cats like lions or jaguars, crocodiles, or other larger predators.
Black rhinos, Sumatran rhinos, and Javan rhinos are ‘critically endangered’, which is the list’s highest risk category.
Ujung Kulon National Park, a World Heritage Site is home to the last remaining wild Javan rhinos on Earth.
White rhinos are ‘near threatened’, which means they may be considered threatened by extinction in the near future.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about rhinoceros that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!