Last Reviewed and Updated on July 3, 2022
Rhinoceroses are the second-largest land mammals and can be found in Africa and Asia. They are herbivores, meaning they eat plants, and they’re sadly often killed by poachers to get their horns. They have a wide variety of unique features and this list of facts about rhinoceros will help you learn a few of them.
1. There are 5 living species of rhinoceros, only one is not currently endangered
There are quite a few extinct species but only 5 rhinoceros species are currently living, with most being endangered and more than one close to extinction.
The species are the White, Black, Indian, Javan, and Sumatran rhinoceros.
2. They are herbivores
They mostly eat grass, shrubs, twigs, fruits, berries…
3. Considering their size, they have small brains
If you would compare their brains to other animals and would take their size into account, the brain of a rhino would be on the smaller side. Luckily for them, the size of the brain isn’t the only factor that determines the intelligence of a creature.
4. They usually have either one or two horns on their head
Depending on the species, the number of horns on their heads varies.
The Javan and Indian rhinos have one horn.
The black rhinoceros have 2 horns and will also occasionally have 3, with the third posterior horn being small.
White rhinos and Sumatran have two horns.
Both male and female rhinoceros have horns with males having much larger horns.
5. Like elephants, they are threatened by poachers who kill them for their horns
Sadly these animals are often hunted and killed by poachers for their horns just like elephants are for their tusks. The horns are then sold on black markets.
What is even sadder is the fact that cutting off the horn and not killing the rhino would be better, even for poachers, as the horn of a rhino grows back.
This is one of the facts about rhinoceros we can be least proud of.
6. There are two subspecies of white rhino, one in large numbers and one with only 2 living members
There are currently two subspecies of white rhinos, with one soon going extinct. The southern white rhinoceros is found in greater numbers, in fact, it has the largest number of animals in all living rhino species. The northern white rhino on the other hand doesn’t have optimistic numbers. There are only two confirmed living northern white rhinos (as of 2022). Both are in captivity and both are females. The last known male of the species died in 2018.
7. White rhinoceros are actually gray
The name would suggest their skin would be white in appearance or at the very least of a very light gray color. The white rhinoceros is gray in appearance.
The name for this species doesn’t originate from the color. The exact origin of the name is unknown. It could be a mistranslation.
They do have an alternative less commonly used name, the square-lipped rhinoceros.
8. Besides humans, rhinos have no real predators
While young or sick and injured rhinos have predators like hyenas or lions, adult healthy animals have nothing to fear besides humans.
9. Their name is of Greek origin and translates to nose horn
It comes as no surprise that their most prominent feature would play a role in naming these animals. The name comes from the Ancient Greek, “rhino” stands for nose, and “ceros” is the horn.
10. Their horns are made of keratin, the same as our hair and nails
If you thought elephant’s tusk and rhino’s horn are alike, you would be mistaken. With elephants, the tusk is an elongated tooth and is made of dentin, while the horn of rhinoceros is made of keratin, a protein that makes up our hair and nails (as well as other things).
11. Their horns grow continuously
Just like nails and hair, the horns of a rhino grow continuously. It grows throughout their lives, and if not broken, will increase both in length and diameter.
12. A group of rhinoceros is a crash or a herd
A herd sounds dull. But a crash of rhinoceros is something completely else. A suitable name for a group of these animals.
13. Their closest relatives are zebras, horses, and tapirs
This is probably one of the most surprising of all the facts about rhinoceros, their closest relatives are zebras, horses, and tapirs. If you’d have to guess, we’re sure the likes of hippos or elephants would sooner come to mind than this bunch.
14. Rhinos have 3 toes
Tracking rhinos is easy as they have a distinctive footprint. Their 3 toes make them different from other larger animals (hippo, elephant) who all have 4 toes.
15. A female rhino is a cow, a male a bull, and the young are calves.
The same as domestic cattle.