Rhinoceroses are big, herbivorous mammals with a characteristic horned stout. The word “rhinoceros” derives its name from the Greek, with “rhino” meaning nose and “ceros” meaning horn.
Furthermore, there are five different rhino species and eleven rhino subspecies, with some rhino species having one horn whereas others have two horns.
Rhino horns are known for their supposed healing properties; subsequently, these animals have almost been hunted to extinction. Moreover, the rhinoceros’ horns are used in some cases as decorations or trophies. However, in most cases, it is ground up to be used as traditional Chinese medicine.
The addition of these powders to either brewed tea or food is due to the belief that these horns have strong aphrodisiac properties, as a treatment for both a hangover and fever, gout and other disorders, as well as rheumatism as stated by the International Rhino Foundation.
Keratin is a crucial component in rhino horns, just like in fingernails and human hair. Nevertheless, these rhinoceros’ horns are not just a dense clump of hair, but a thick accumulation of mineral deposits, including melanin and calcium in the horn’s core as CT scans have shown. Hence, the horns have resistance to the sun’s UV rays due to the presence of melanin, and the calcium deposits make the horn sturdy as proven by scientists from Ohio University.
Also, these horns are comparable to turtle beaks, horse hooves, and cockatoo bills. Usually, rhinoceros horns bend back toward the head since the keratin at the back grows slower in comparison to keratin at the front. However, the outside of the horn tends to be soft thereby necessitates sharpening after use for many years and also wears down. In the event it breaks, the horn slowly grows back.
White rhinos, black rhinos, and Sumatran rhinos typically have two horns, whereas the greater one-horned rhinos and Javan rhinos have only one horn. According to the International Rhino Foundation, a black rhino’s front horn ranges between 20 to 51 inches, whereas the rear horn grows to approximately 20 inches.
Additionally, the horns of a white rhino tend to be marginally smaller, whereas the front horns of the Sumatran rhinos are around 10 to 31 inches and the rear horns frequently three inches shorter in length. The length of the Javan rhino is approximately 10 inches while the greater one-horned rhino has a horn of 8 to 24 inches.
How Big Do Rhinos Get?
The white rhino is the largest rhinoceros’ species with a length of about 12 to 13 feet and its height from the hoof to shoulder being 6 feet. Moreover, it weighs approximately 5,000 pounds.
On the other hand, the Sumatran rhino is the smallest rhinoceros species growing to about 8 to 10 feet long and its height from its hoof to shoulder being around 4.8 feet. Its weight is about 1,765 pounds.
Black rhinos and white rhinos are found in the floodplains and grasslands of southern and eastern Africa, while the greater one-horned rhinos usually live in the rain forests and swamps of southern Nepal and northern India. Furthermore, Javan and Sumatran rhinos live in small zones within the Indonesian rain forests and wetlands.
Typically, rhinos graze both during the night and day and only sleep during the hottest periods during the day. During the rare moments of the day when these animals are not eating, they go to enjoy themselves in a cooling mud soak, which according to National Geographic, is critical since it acts as a natural sunblock and helps to protect the rhinos from bugs.
Rhinos are often solitary creatures, although on a few occasions do form groups known as crashes. The group’s composition is usually a female and her offspring. One dominant male rule over a given area of land and allows other sub-dominate males to stay on his terrain. Female rhinos, however, have the freedom to roam freely across different territories and experience no backlash.
Rhinos are herbivorous creatures thus feed only on vegetation, with the type of plant being eaten varies from one species to another. According to the National Geographic, it is because these different rhinoceros species come with snouts in different shapes to accommodate different types of food.
For instance, the white rhino’s flat-shaped nose is to enable the rhino to get close enough to the ground and eat grass, while the black rhino’s long lips allow it to select fruit and leave that are high up thus it eats bushes or trees.
A female rhino reproduces after a period of between two and a half years to five years, carrying their young for a gestation period of 15 to 16 months. Usually, rhinos have one baby at a time, although in some rare cases, they give birth to twins. Baby rhinos are known as calves are relatively huge, weighing around 88 to 140 pounds, as stated by the San Diego Zoo.
When the calf reaches three years old, it will part ways with its mother. Lastly, the rhino can live to 45 years of age.