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Our Top 10 Rhinoceros Facts for World Rhino Day

World Rhino Day is celebrated globally on September 22nd each year. With today marking the 2021 celebration of these amazing animals we bring you our Top 10 favorite facts about the world's rhinos.

For this year's celebration the International Rhino Foundation has chosen the slogan 'keep the 5 alive' recognizing that all 5 species of rhino are threatened by extinction in the near future.

In their 2021 state of the rhino report the foundation has provided exciting news that three species of rhino increased their population from 2011 to 2021 but unfortunately those of the white rhino and Sumatran rhino did reduce.

Read on to find out the 10 coolest facts about these amazing, armored animals.

Rhino Calf Eshe Monarto Safari Park

Photo Credit: Cale Russell

1. The biggest of the big!

The rhinoceros are considered to be the second largest animals found on Earth after the elephants.

Among the five rhino species the largest is the southern white rhinoceros. As an adult they reach lengths between 3.7 and 4m (12 and 13ft) with a weight of up 2,300kg (5,000lbs).

The smallest is the Sumatran rhinoceros measuring 2.5 to 3m (8-10ft) long and weighing in at just 800kg (1,765lbs).

2. Around the world?

Rhinoceros are restricted to Asia and Africa. Two species, the white rhinoceros and black rhinoceros are found across the continent of Africa. In Asia, three species the Indian rhinoceros, Sumatran rhinoceros and Javan rhinoceros can be found across South-East Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

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3. My what a big nose you have!

All rhinoceros are equipped with a horn on the front of the head. Javan and Indian rhinoceros have just one while the others have two. These are formed from kertatin, the same substance which makes up your fingernails and hair.

As the horn is soft on its outside they can wear it down giving each its own shape. When it breaks they are able to grow it back.

4. In need of an ark.

The most endangered subspecies of rhinoceros is the Northern white rhino. Their population has dwindled to just two individuals which live under the protection of 24-hour guards at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

Unfortunately it seems unlikely that the two remaining northern white rhinoceros, Fatu and Najin will not reproduce on their own. Fortunately all is not lost with works ongoing to produce a baby through IVF using stored sperm.

sumatran rhinoceros

A Sumatran rhinoceros and her calf

Photo Credit: By Charles W. Hardin from Flickr, CC BY 2.0

5. A day at the spa.

To help protect their sensitive skin all species of rhinoceros will roll in mud and dust. The coating on their skin helps prevent insect bites and sunburn.

Another way they protect their skin is by establishing relationships with birds who eat parasites off the rhinos skin.


6. Do you mind if I crash?

A group of rhinoceros is referred to as a crash. Sumatran rhinoceros, Indian rhinoceros, Javan rhinoceros and black rhinoceros are almost entirely solitary coming together to mate but white rhinoceros will move around in small groups regularly.

The male is known as a bull, the female as a cow and the young as a calf.

An Indian or Asian one-horned rhinoceros

Photo Credit: Public Domain

7. Waiting for a baby?

All species of rhinoceros have long gestation periods. They must wait between 15 and 16 months from when they mate until they are ready to welcome their calf in to the world.

8. Mistaken Identity.


Both the black and white rhinoceros have similar colored grey skin. Some variation is seen but this is mainly due to the mud which they have been rolling in.

Their names are believed to be drawn from a misunderstanding. The name for the white rhino was taken from an Afrikaans word for wide 'wyd' in reference to the square lips used to graze. Early English explorers likely mistook this word for white and then applied black to the separate species to make identification of the two easy.

Black Rhinoceros

Photo Credit: Public Domain

9. Running on leaves

All species of rhino are herbivores. They feed on a range of grasses and leaves depending on the species.

10. Under Threat


Unfortunately all species of rhinoceros are threatened. Much of their decline has come as a result of the demand for rhino horn which is considered a traditional remedy for a range of conditions in some areas.

These animals are regularly killed to collect the horn. In some areas they are protected by armed guards to protect against this risk and others have been sedated and had their horn removed so they become unattractive to poachers.

The most threatened of the group is the Javan rhino with as few as 75 remaining in one population in Indonesia.

Love Rhinoceros? Want to learn more about them? We have fact files on a range of rhinoceros species where you can learn about their appearance, diet, lifespan, habitat, range, breeding and behavior habitats.

Click the button below to learn more about the species.

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