A rhinoceros commonly abbreviated to rhino, is one of any five extant species of odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae, as well as any of the numerous extinct species. Two of the extant species are native to Africa and three to Southern Asia. The term “rhinoceros” is often more broadly applied to now extinct relatives of the superfamily Rhinocerotoidea.
Members of the rhinoceros family are some of the largest remaining megafauna, with all species able to reach or exceed one tonne in weight. They have a herbivorous diet, small brains (400–600 g) for mammals of their size, one or two horns, and a thick protective skin formed from layers of collagen positioned in a lattice structure. They generally eat leafy material, although their ability to ferment food in their hindgut allows them to subsist on more fibrous plant matter when necessary. Unlike other perissodactyls, the two African species of rhinoceros lack teeth at the front of their mouths, relying instead on their lips to pluck food.
Rhinoceroses are by far the largest of the perissodactyls, an order of hoofed mammals that also includes the horses and zebras. One of the features of very large body size in mammals is a low reproductive rate. In rhinoceroses, females do not conceive until about six years of age; gestation is long, and they give birth to only one calf at a time. The period of birth between calves can range from 2 to 4.5 years.
Thus, the loss of a number of breeding-age females to poachers can greatly slow the recovery of rhinoceros populations. However, an Indian rhinoceros female will conceive again quickly if she loses her calf. In this species tigers kill about 10–20 percent of calves. Tigers rarely kill calves older than 1 year, so those Indian rhinoceroses that survive past that point are invulnerable to nonhuman predators.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Perissodactyla
- Superfamily: Rhinocerotoidea
- Family: Rhinocerotidae
Rhinos are herbivores, meaning they eat only plants. White rhinos, with their square-shaped lips, are ideally suited to graze on grass. Other rhinos prefer to eat the foliage of trees or bushes.
The rhino averages about 1.5 tons in weight, and the rhino has a tough skin that is roughly 1.5cm thick. The rhino also has a large horn in the middle of its face and some species of rhino have a second smaller horn above the larger one.
The rhinoceros is a herbivore and eats grasses, leaves, shoots, buds and fruits in order to gain the nutrients that the rhino needs to grow and survive. The average rhinoceros regularly gets to about 60 years old in the wild particularly seeing as they have no real predators apart from human poachers. The rhino is also known to have a fairly small brain in comparison to their large size.
The preferred habitat varies depending on the species, but range from savannas, grassland plains, wetlands, and dense forests in tropical regions.
- Our planet is home to five species of rhinoceros – 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.
- These brilliant beasts are known for their awesome, giant horns that grow from their snouts – hence the name “rhinoceros’, meaning “nose horn”. Javan and Indian rhinos have one horn, where as the white, black and Sumatran rhinos have two.
- These incredible creatures are some of the biggest animals in world! The largest of the five species is the white rhino, which can grow to 1.8m tall and and weigh a massive 2,500kg – that’s the weight of 30 men!