Fascinating facts about the rhinoceros


By: Perpetual Nyambura perpetual@mtkenyatimes.co.ke

Worth Noting:

  • You might think that rhino horns are made of super tough bone, but it’s actually made up of keratin, the same protein that makes up human hair and fingernails and is basically a compacted mass that grows throughout the rhino’s life. The white rhino’s horn can grow 7cm every year and the record length is 150cm long. The longest rhino horn ever measured was just less than 60 inches, according to the International Rhino Foundation.
  • Despite their huge size and strength, these bulky beasts don’t prey on other animals for food. They’re vegetarians that can eat up to 100 pounds of food a day. Depending on the species, they eat leaves; fruit, grasses, stems, and twigs at night, dawn and dusk.
  • Even though they live in some of the hottest and sunniest climates, their skin isn’t that well equipped to handle it. They can sunburn easily and are also susceptible to bad bug bites. To remedy this, rhinos can be found sleeping in the shade or wallowing in muddy pools to cool off. Mud baths protect their skin from the strong sun and ward off biting bugs and insects.

Rhinos are one of the most iconic animals in the world, yet many people do not know a great deal about this ancient species. With their awe-inducing presence and unique appearance, they are some of the most fascinating animals on the planet. Do you know that rhinos have very poor eyesight?  They would have great difficulty seeing someone standing just 30m away. The word “rhinoceros” comes from the Greek words “rhino” (which means “nose”) and “ceros” (which means “horn”). Literally translated therefore, rhinoceros means nose horn.

To fill in the gap for knowledge about these creatures, here is all you need to know.

To start with, there are now five different species of rhino in the world. Two of these are native to Africa; the Black Rhinoceros and the White Rhinoceros. The other three of these are native to Asia; the Indian Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros and Sumatran Rhinoceros. The Black Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros and Sumatran Rhinoceros are all listed as Critically Endangered which this means that they have a 50% chance of becoming extinct in the next three generations.

They are the Third Largest Land Mammal

All five rhino species can grow to weigh over 1000kg, with the white rhino reaching a staggering 2500kg. This makes the white rhino the third largest land mammal after the African and Asian elephants. The white rhinoceros is also the largest rhinoceros species and can weigh up to 6,000 pounds. Their heads alone can weigh up to 2,000 pounds, and they’re typically between 5 and 6 feet tall.

Rhino Horns Are Used as Medicine

Doctors in Asia have been using powdered rhino horn in their medicine for centuries. According to the International Rhino Foundation, it’s been used to treat and cure a number of ailments, including: aging, arthritis, asthma, chest cold, chicken pox, convulsions, coughs, demonic possession, diphtheria, and other illnesses.

Its horns are made of keratin

You might think that rhino horns are made of super tough bone, but it’s actually made up of keratin, the same protein that makes up human hair and fingernails and is basically a compacted mass that grows throughout the rhino’s life. The white rhino’s horn can grow 7cm every year and the record length is 150cm long. The longest rhino horn ever measured was just less than 60 inches, according to the International Rhino Foundation.

They are herbivorous                

Despite their huge size and strength, these bulky beasts don’t prey on other animals for food.  They’re vegetarians that can eat up to 100 pounds of food a day. Depending on the species, they eat leaves; fruit, grasses, stems, and twigs at night, dawn and dusk.

Rhinos have sensitive skin

Even though they live in some of the hottest and sunniest climates, their skin isn’t that well equipped to handle it. They can sunburn easily and are also susceptible to bad bug bites. To remedy this, rhinos can be found sleeping in the shade or wallowing in muddy pools to cool off. Mud baths protect their skin from the strong sun and ward off biting bugs and insects.

 Rhino Pregnancies Last 15-16 Months

The female rhino is pregnant for about 18 months depending on the species of rhino, after which only one calf is born without a horn. At birth, this calf will weigh between 25 and 45 kilograms. It is born fairly weak but is able to stand up and begin walking within minutes of the birth. Soon, it will be able to keep up with its mother’s pace. Within the first few hours of its life, it will begin to suckle milk from its mother, which it will continue to do until about 18 months of age. The mother will allow her calf to drink milk exclusive for the first week or two. After that, she will take it to areas with soft grass and teach it to eat the young, juicy vegetation of the area. Male rhinos leave the female as soon as mating has occurred. They do not play any role in the raising of the young.

Rhino’s way of communication

Rhinos make an array of funny noises when they’re communicating. During confrontations, they growl and make ‘trumpet calls’. They snort when they’re angry, make sneeze-like calls as alarms, and literally scream if they’re scared. Rhinos also communicate through their dung and urine, using a series of toilets within their territories known as middens. Their dung also plays a big role in marking their territory as each rhino’s dung has a unique smell, and male rhinos utilize it to keep others off their area. They can make between 20 to 30 piles to make sure that other rhinos know to stay away.

 

 

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