You May Not Believe These Incredible Rhino Facts
The mighty rhinoceros is unlike any other animal. Strong and powerful, with protruding horns for protection, they look like small versions of dinosaurs.
That's one reason why they're so mysterious and people have a lot of questions. These are the most searched questions about rhinos with answers to every rhino fact you want to know.
What Is a Rhino?
Let's begin with the basics. According to Brittanica, the rhinoceros is a three-toed hoofed species, "noted for their thick skin, which forms platelike folds."
They are one of the largest land animals in the world, gray or brown (not white), and tend to be hairless. Their most distinct feature is having horns on their nose, which they use to protect themselves or to attack rival rhinos during mating seasons.
If you want a less official definition, rhinos are horned giants that are one of the coolest species on the planet.
Are Rhinos Mammals?
First, we have to answer a question that caught our eye: Do rhinos lay eggs?
Why is this question so popular? Has anyone ever heard of a rhino egg? But coming from the premise that there are no silly questions, let's just say that no, rhinos do not lay eggs. And yes, they are mammals.
In fact, after elephants, they are the largest land mammal on the planet, and baby rhinos are born just like any other mammal.
How Many Species of Rhino Are There?
There are five species of rhinoceros: white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, Javan rhinoceros, Indian rhinoceros and Sumatran rhinoceros.
Each species has its own distinctive characteristics, diets and taxonomies.
Are Rhinos Extinct?
By far the most common question people have about rhinos is whether they are extinct. We're happy to report that (as of now) no species of rhinoceros is extinct.
However, people do have a reason to worry, since a subspecies of the Javan rhino in Vietnam was declared extinct in 2011, and the northern white rhino subspecies is on the verge of extinction (more on that later).
Are Rhinos Endangered?
Three of the five species of rhinoceros are critically endangered: Javan, Sumatran and black rhinos. The World Wide Federation defines this category as "facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild."
But that doesn't mean that the other two species are out of the woods. Through massive conservation efforts, Indian rhinos have gone from endangered (very high risk of extinction) to vulnerable (high risk of extinction). That's definitely a win, but not exactly where you'd want them to be yet.
Similarly, white rhinos — once thought to have gone completely extinct — are now near-threatened.
Why Are Rhinos Endangered?
The short answer: humans.
The long answer: Rhino horns have been used for centuries by many groups in Africa and Asia and have now become a coveted — though mostly illegal — item. High prices have turned poaching into a very lucrative business, so the species has been targeted and hunted down in cold blood.
We'll get more into the specifics of rhino horns below, but let's continue learning about rhinos before that.
How Many Rhinos Are Left in the World?
Are you ready to get sad?
There are about 27,000 rhinos left in the world. If that sounds like a lot, consider that just a century ago, the rhino population was an estimated 500,000. In the 1970s, we still had 70,000, which is shockingly low compared to early 20th century numbers, but still more than double today's number.
To understand just how bad the numbers are, consider that Javan rhinos and Sumatran rhinos only have an estimated 80 individuals left each.
White rhinoceros have the largest population, with around 17,200 to 18,900 individuals. However, after Sudan, the last male northern rhino in the world, died in 2018, the entire species has been reduced to two.
The mother and daughter duo — Najin and Fatu — are protected in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. You can actually visit these beautiful creatures and learn about the fight to conserve them on a special safari tour with Unforgettable Travel.
Where Do Rhinos Live?
Though way back when you could find rhinos in Europe (as evidenced by cave paintings), the animals now live exclusively in Africa and Asia. They live in diverse habitats like grasslands, savannas, tropical forests and deserts.
As you probably guessed from their name, the Indian rhino live in the Indian subcontinent, where they once thrived in the Himalayas . Yes, really. You can still find some in the Indo-Nepali region of Terai. They also inhabit northern West Bengal and Assam.
Similarly, Sumatran and Javan rhinos live in the Indonesian islands that give the species their names. They both used to inhabit a wide range of South and Southeast Asia, but were hunted to extinction almost everywhere except on the islands. Sumatran rhinos can still be found in some parts of Malaysia.
Black and white rhinos live exclusively in Africa. You can find southern white rhinos in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Uganda. (As we've said, there are no northern white rhinos in the wild anymore, though they used to roam central Africa.)
The historical range of the black rhino was huge, spanning several regions of east, west and central Africa. Not too long ago, you could've found them as far north as Sudan and as far south as Zambia. As a critically endangered species, however, it is now only found in protected areas around the continent.
How Long Do Rhinos Live?
The lifespan of rhinos varies by species, but it usually ranges between 35 and 50 years. It's hard to say how long rhinos can last naturally in the wild, given how often they are poached and how most of them live in reserves.
However, besides humans, adult rhinos don't have many predators, so we can imagine they would have a similar lifespan were it not for poaching.
How Big Is a Rhino?
The average height for all rhino species is 5.2 feet, but they are also about 11 feet long. So even though you'll probably stand taller than them, they'll be much bigger than you are. Just be thankful they're too heavy to stand on two feet.
Their horns vary by size, but can reach up to 39 inches in length.
How Much Does a Rhino Weigh?
Rhinos weigh around 1,720 to 3,080 pounds. For context, 1,000 pounds is the average weight of four refrigerators.
So if a rhino ever decides to charge at you, you'll have up to 12 refrigerators running after you.
How Fast Can a Rhino Run?
Sure, rhinos are heavy, but that would mean that they can't run fast and would be easy to get away from, right? Definitely not so.
Despite their massiveness, rhinos are pretty fast runners, getting up to speeds of 25 to 34 miles per hour. So unless you're Usain Bolt, your chances of escaping a rhinoceros are pretty slim.
How Strong Is a Rhino?
With their enormous size, impressive weight and fast speed, it's safe to say that rhinoceros are extremely strong animals.
The species is so strong (as we've mentioned) adult rhinos don't really have any predators in the wild. That's right, even tigers and crocodiles know better than to mess with these powerful beasts.
Without humans poaching them and destroying their natural environment, their populations would be thriving.
Can Rhinos Swim?
Technically, yes, all rhinoceros species can swim. But given their different geography, they have not evolved to have the same level of aquatic abilities.
Asian rhino species are pretty good swimmers, so you may find them in relatively deep water. They also like to swim across rivers.
African rhinos, on the other hand, have not learned their technique quite as well and are not very good at swimming. Because of this, they usually wallow near the banks of rivers without actually getting in the water.
Can Rhinos Jump?
If you want to be technical about it, the answer is yes. By that, we mean that it is possible for rhinoceros to have all four feet off the ground at once. Technically, that counts as jumping.
However, they don't jump in the general sense of the word. They're simply too heavy for that.
Even if they could, the landing would be dangerous and could lead to injury.
What Do Rhinos Eat?
Ahhh, the question of many a nervous safari-goer: Do rhinos eat meat? Thankfully for humans and other animals, they don't. Rhinos are herbivores, getting most of their food from bushes and trees.
Some species of rhinos graze in grass, and most of them enjoy plucking fruits from trees whenever possible.
Are Rhinos Dangerous?
To recap: Rhinos are gigantic, weigh a ton, are fast as heck, can sometimes cross rivers and are strong enough to warrant the fear of all nearby predators. Does this mean that rhinos are dangerous?
To a certain extent, yes. The good thing is that no rhinoceros will hunt you to eat you. But they are very territorial animals and can get defensive if they decide you're a threat. Black rhinoceros are the most aggressive species and the most likely to attack.
Still, to put you at ease, it is extremely rare for a rhino to attack a human, with only about two attacks per year being recorded. Attacks are usually not lethal, since they're mostly trying to drive people off their territory and not attack to kill them.
If a rhino does charge at you, your safest bet is to find a tree and climb it as fast as you can.
Do Rhinos Put Out Fires?
We would love to tell you that rhinos are the firefighters of the wild. Unfortunately, that's not simply the case.
Like most animals on this green Earth, rhinoceros tend to run and get as far away from fire as fast as they can. We suppose it could be possible, but so could many fantastic things.
There is no evidence save folktales and myths of a rhino ever putting out a fire.
How Long Are Rhinos Pregnant For?
The gestation period for rhinoceros is usually 15 to 16 months, one of the longest in the entire animal kingdom.
Though the length of pregnancy is necessary for the giant animals to develop, it does pose a difficulty to replenishing endangered rhinoceros populations. Female rhinos don't start mating until the age of five.
After giving birth, they won't mate again until their calf has left, which normally takes two to three years.
What Sound Does a Rhino Make?
It's hard to describe any animal sound, but if we had to tell you what rhinos sound like, we'd say they sound like elephant puppies.
We'll let you judge for yourself if you think that's a good description.
Are Hippos and Rhinos Related?
Hippos and rhinos share similar qualities: strength, size and being herbivores. However, they are not even closely related to each other.
Perhaps surprisingly, rhinoceros are actually related to horses and the closest living relative of the hippos are (no, we're not making this up) cetaceans. Yup, whales are closer to hippos than rhinos are.
What can we say? Families are weird.
Who Would Win, Rhino vs. Hippo?
Despite being unrelated, rhinos and hippos are not living out West Side Story rivalries on the daily. That said, it's possible that the animals would fight over territory, as they are both aggressive about their turf.
But for the sake of hypotheticals, we are a little inclined to say hippopotamuses would win, given that they are one of the most aggressive and dangerous animals in the world.
Then again, some people argue that the victory depends on where the fight take place. Hippos are more likely to win in water, and rhinos are more likely to win on land. Hippos only exist in Africa, so their opponents would be the rhinos that can't swim well.
Is a Rhino a Dinosaur?
We admit that seeing this question come up so much surprised us. If rhinos were dinosaurs, that would mean that dinosaurs still exist, which goes against the whole mass extinction bit that makes them so fascinating.
But we get that rhinoceros really do look like the descendants of triceratops, so we can see where the confusion comes from.
What Does 'Rhino' Mean?
The etymology of the word "rhinoceros" is pretty straightforward, coming from the Greek word "rhinokeros."
"Rhino" means "nose" (hence, words like "rhinoplasty") and "keros" means "horned." So the word literally means "nose-horned," which is exactly what they are.
What is a Group of Rhinos Called?
A group of rhinoceros is called a "crash." Though the species tend to be solitary and don't often live in groups, it does happen.
If you're lucky enough to see them in a group, just make sure you don't crash into them.
Yes, that was terrible, and no, we're not sorry.
What Is the Plural of Rhinoceros?
The plural form of "rhinoceros" is rhinoceros, rhinoceroses or rhinoceri.
We personally like "rhinoceros," as you've probably picked up on by now, but if you want to avoid confusion, "rhinoceroses" helps make a distinction.
"Rhinoceri" just makes you sound like you're a college freshman hiding intellectual insecurities by trying to sound smart.
How Many Horns Does a Rhino Have?
Javan and Indian rhinoceros have only one horn. This is why the latter is also called the greater one-horn rhino.
The other three species of rhinos, including the Sumatran rhino, have two horns. One is smaller and nearer the eyes. The other one is at the tip of the nose and is sharp and long.
What Are Rhino Horns Made Of?
To the surprise of many, rhino horns are made of neither bone nor magic. They are made of keratin, the same substance you can find in your fingernails or hair.
Think of the horn as a really tough, slowly but eternally growing mass of tightly wound hair.
Magic sounds cooler, but sometimes science is simply not sexy.
What Are Rhino Horns Used For?
Despite being made of keratin, many cultures in Africa and Asia believe rhino horns have medicinal or physically enhancing properties. Some traditional medicines use the rhino horn powder as an ingredient.
Because of their undeniable power, their high cost and their extreme rarity, rhino horns have also become a status symbol.
Tragically, this means that they've become even more desirable in certain circles, which continues to incentivize poachers to kill rhinos for their horns.
How Much Is a Rhino Horn Worth?
We'll assume that people are searching for this to be informed and not because they're trying to buy a rhino horn.
Since extinction has made rhinos more rare and laws have made it illegal to sell rhino horns, black market prices for horns have only gone up. Horns are now worth more than gold, fetching up to $60,000 per pound in Asia.
Demand hasn't been curtailed, despite massive education campaigns about the danger this poses to the species. Rhinos aren't just awesome in themselves, they're also keystone species, meaning that their entire ecosystem depends heavily on them. The disappearance of rhinoceros from areas can lead to the collapse of other animal populations or ecosystems.