Rhinoceroses are herbivorous, large mammals belonging to the Rhinocerotidae family. Five species of rhinoceroses are found in Asia and Africa. Three species are native to South and Southeast Asia; two extant species can be seen in Africa.
Rhinoceros, commonly known as rhinos, are thick-skinned animals with thick horns. So, in this article, we will explore some really amazing facts, about rhinoceroses, including their habitat, behavior, physical characteristics, diet, reproduction, and many more.
Facts About Rhinoceros:
Their name is a combination of two Greek words:
The rhinoceros combines Greek words: rhino or nose and ceros or horn.
These animals are one of the largest animals in the world. All of them weigh a minimum of one tonne in adulthood. They usually like to eat leafy material.
Their horns are not bones:
The horn of a rhinoceros is not made of bone but of keratin. Keratin is the same material that has created the hair and fingernails of humans. A rhino’s horn is not attached to its skull and is a compacted mass of hair that usually grows throughout the lifetime of a rhino, just like our nails and hair.
The longest horn of a rhino belongs to a white rhino that is just under five feet or 60 inches long.
They are known as pachyderms:
These animals are referred to as pachyderms. The term pachyderm also derives from two Greek words, patches, ” thick, ” and ” derma, ” skin. Several years ago, zoologists named several thick-skinned animals together, like tapirs, rhinos, elephants, horses, pigs, hyraxes, hippos, and peccaries.
Though this classification is no longer regarded as useful, still this name is used sometimes.
The largest species of rhinos:
The white rhinos, called Ceratotherium simum, are known as the largest of all rhinoceroses, and these huge mammals can weigh up to 5070 pounds or 2300 kilograms.
These animals have square-shaped, broad mouths adapted for grass grazing, their primary food source. The name “white rhinoceros” is a mistranslation of the Afrikaans word “weit,” which means wide, mainly referring to the rhinos’ wide mouth.
Some of them have a pointed upper lips:
The black rhinoceros or Diceros bicornis is much smaller than the white rhinoceros. However, these are still regarded as large animals, weighing up to 3100 pounds or 1400 kilograms.
These species of rhinos have a pointed upper lip that is adapted for browsing on shrubs and trees.
There are Indian rhinoceros:
The Indian rhinoceros or Rhinoceros Unicornis is also famous as the greater one-horned rhinoceros. These mammals are regarded as the largest Asian rhinoceros that can weigh up to 5950 pounds or 2700 kilograms.
These animals have a single, curved horn on their nose. This horn can grow up to 10 inches or 25 centimeters in length.
These rhinos were seen in several parts of Myanmar, Pakistan, and China. However, because of humans, these animals only exist in a few protected areas of India, such as West Bengal, Assam, and Uttar Pradesh.
There are Sumatran Rhinoceros:
The Dicerorhinus sumatrensis or Sumatran rhinoceros is the smallest of all rhinos, weighing around 1760 pounds or 800 kilograms.
These smallest rhinos have two horns on their nose, with the front much larger than the rear. These Sumatran rhinos are covered in long, dark hair, distinguishing them from other rhinos.
These rhinos can be seen at high altitudes in Sumatra and Borneo. However, due to poaching and habitat loss, their numbers have declined significantly, and they have become the second most threatened rhinos.
There are Javan rhinoceros:
The Javan rhinoceros or Rhinoceros sondaicus is one of the rarest large mammals in the world. There are only 72 of these animals remaining in the wild. These animals are similar in size to the Indian rhinos but have a lot slender build.
These animals also have a straight, single horn on their nose that can grow around 10 inches or 25 centimeters in length. These rhinos are hairless and have hazy grey skin. Their skin falls into folds into the back, shoulder, and rump, offering it an armored look. They prefer tall grass and lowland rain forest.
They are solitary animals:
Rhinoceros are solitary animals, except for offspring and their mothers. They are usually docile animals that like to avoid conflict. However, they can become aggressive and charge at their attackers if threatened.
These animals have poor eyesight but a keen sense of hearing and smell. Thus, they can use this powerful sense to detect threats and potential predators.
They are famous for their wallowing behavior:
These large animals are also known for their wallowing behavior. They sometimes roll in water or mud to cool down and protect their skin from insect bites, sunburn, and parasites.
This attitude also helps them to camouflage their scent from predators.
They have unique physical characteristics:
Rhinos are bulky, large mammals that have a unique prehistoric appearance. They have thick, tough skin that is covered in plates and folds. This thick skin acts as armor against predators.
They also have a distinctive horn made of keratin on their nose. These horns vary in size and shape; the males have longer horns than the female rhinos.
They are herbivores animals:
Rhinoceros are herbivores with a diet of main vegetation, including leaves, grasses, fruits, and shoots. These animals can digest tough, fibrous plants due to their complex digestive system, which has a four-chambered stomach.
They can even live for long periods without water, but when they drink, they can quickly intake large amounts of water.
Some rhinos use their teeth for defense:
When an Indian rhino tries to defend itself against another rhino, or a predator, it doesn’t use its horns to protect itself, and it gouges viciously with its sharp, long incisors and canine teeth. Though only all five species have three molars and three premolars on each side of their lower and upper jaws, only the Sumatran and Indian species have canines.
Also, two African rhinos don’t have teeth at the front of their mouths and depend on their lips to pluck food.
They become mature around five to seven years:
Rhinos reach sexual maturity at the age of around five to seven years. Their mating occurs throughout the year, and female rhinos mainly give birth to a single calf after a gestation period of 14 to 18 months.
The mother cares for her calf for up to two years when the calf remains close to its mother and learns some essential survival skills.
Poachers kill them:
Many poachers kill rhinos for their horns. The rhinoceros’ horns are bought and sold on the black market for very high prices. This eventually results in most living rhino species being considered endangered.
The main market for these horns is driven by Vietnam and China, where many wealthy people buy those horns to use in various fields, including traditional Chinese medicine.
A market also exists in Yemen for rhino horn dagger handles, which was the major source of demand for these horns in the 1970s and 1980s.
They have different chromosomes:
Though the black rhinoceros has 84 chromosomes, the other rhinos have 82.
The incident known as Chromosomal polymorphism might result in varying chromosome counts. For example, three Northern rhinos were seen with 81 chromosomes in a study.
Their horns are used for various purposes:
The rhinos’ horns are made of keratinous mineralized compartments and subcutaneous tissues. These horns are used in traditional medicines in several parts of Asia.
Moreover, these horns are used for dagger handles in Oman and Yemen. In Europe, it was believed that these horns had the power to purify water and even could detect poison. Some even believed those horns to be an aphrodisiac and an antidote to poison.
In addition to this, there is a common misconception that this horn can work as a cure for cancer in traditional Chinese medicine.
An adult rhino can release about 50 pounds of dung per day:
As rhinos consume a large amount of plant material and leave to get proper nutrition, an adult rhino can release a lot of dung per day. Nuances in the dung smell can tell a rhino many things about others in the area.
Also, each rhino smells different from others, and even the dung of an adult rhino smells different than a young one. In addition, a female’s dung smells much different than a male rhino, and a non-reproductive female smells different from a reproductive one.
The habitat of rhinoceros:
Rhinos can be seen in various habitats, including grasslands, savannas, forests, and swamps. Their distribution is limited to certain regions of Asia and Africa. The white rhino is found mainly in Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.
In contrast, black rhinos are seen in countries like Tanzania, Kenya, and South Africa. However, the high demand for rhino horns has significantly declined in all rhinoceros populations worldwide.
So, rhinoceros are fascinating mammals with unique physical characteristics and behaviors. However, they are facing various threats to their survival due to humans.
In this article, we have learned 19 amazing facts about this remarkable mammal of our animal kingdom. These facts offer us a clear picture of this unique animal. To know more, you may visit our website.
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