1. There Are Lots Of Different Types of Rhino
5 infact! The black rhino, the white rhino, the Indian rhino (also known as the greater horned rhino), the Sumatran rhino and the Javan rhino! That’s a lot of different rhinos! They come in various different sizes and colours, for all your rhino needs!
2. They Live In Africa and Asia
Black and white rhinos live in Africa, while Indian, Sumatran and Javan Rhinos all live in Asia. African rhinos prefer to live in grasslands and planes, whilst Asian rhinos like rainforests and tropical forests.
3. They Used To Be Woolly
You’ve heard of woolly mammoths, now get ready for woolly rhinos! Thousands of years ago, way before you or even your nan was born, woolly rhinos roamed the earth! They were woolly in order to keep them warm in very cold climates. Sadly, they were probably killed off by hunters about 14,000 years ago, so you’ll never get that woolly rhino coat you dream of!
4. They Can Weigh A Lot
The average white rhino (the biggest rhino species) can weigh up to 2.5 tonnes! So you’d better hope one doesn’t fall on you! They can also grow to nearly 2m tall – that’s a lot of rhino! They also can’t see very well, so if one starts charging in your direction, look out!
5. They Communicate With Poo!
Yes, you read that right! Rhinos have been known to use their poo to signal to each other! They use their piles (up to 23kg a day!) of dung to signify whether or not their ready to find a mate. Er, we suppose if the other rhinos find it romantic, who are we to judge?
6. Their Name Has A Significant Meaning
Rhino is short for ‘rhinoceros’, which comes from ancient Greek and means ‘nose horn’. This is because…well, take a look! Although their nose is NOT a horn, they do have a horn on their nose! We also use the word ‘rhino’ to refer to our noses today – for example, rhinosinusitis is when you get inflamed nasal cavities!
7. They Don’t Only Have One Horn
Although we usually think of them as only having one horn, the number of horns a rhino has depends on what sort of rhino it is! Javan rhinos all have only one horn, but the rest have two, a big one and a slightly smaller one behind it!
8. They Were Once Mistaken For Magical Beasts
Rhinos might not look very fantastical, but once upon a time people believed that they were magic! Some early European colonisers in Africa and Asia thought they’d found a real life, (and slightly less graceful) unicorn! Meanwhile, some peoples of the Americas found woolly rhino horns and thought they were claws from a giant mythical bird called the roc!
9. They Eat Plants
Rhinos might look fearsome, but they don’t eat any meat at all! They are actually herbivores, which mean they only eat plants! They like to graze and forage for leaves, grass, trees and other foliage to make a yummy (for a rhino) snack.
10. They Use Their Horns For Lots of Different Things
Rhino horns aren’t just there to look nice – they use them for lots of different things! These include digging in the ground for minerals, guiding their young, and fighting other rhinos! They like to bash each other with their horns to assert dominance, fight over mates and protect their territory. Would you cross a rhino? We didn’t think so!
11. Their Horns Are Made Of Keratin
Keratin is a substance that makes up hoofs, horns and hair! It’s tough and it’s made of protein, and you have it in your hair and nails! That also means that if a rhino horn comes off, it will grow back! But it’s a very slow process, so if you accidentally knocked off a rhino horn, don’t expect it to grow back as quickly as your nails!
12. They Are Related to Horses and Zebras
They may not look alike, but the rhinos closest relatives are the horse, zebra and tapir! They all belong to a group of animals called ‘odd-toed ungulates’, and they all have either one or three toes, and they are all herbivores! They like to browse and graze instead of hunting their food, which is wise – must be hard to run fast when you’ve only got three toes!
13. They Are A Bird’s Best Friend
Or rather, a bird is THEIR best friend! Rhinos and some birds, such as the hornbill and oxpecker, have what’s known as a ‘symbiotic relationship’. They work together to help each other. The bird eats the bugs, ticks and parasites on the rhinos back, in return getting a delicious and protein packed meal! Aw!
14. They Are Hunted For Their Horns
Some cultures believe that rhino horns have special magical powers which can help improve their health or even cure illness. Although this isn’t true, it hasn’t stopped them being hunted by poachers for their horns, which are worth a lot of money. Rhinos can be killed just so people can get their hands on their horns, and so they need extra help and protection.
15. They Are Critically Endangered
Rhinos are in danger for several reasons, mainly poaching (illegal hunting) and habitat loss. However, today lots of organizations’ are fighting to save the rhino and make sure they aren’t hunted any more. There are only a few of some rhino species left in the world, so it’s important to save them before they disappear!