Sep 22

Have you ever wondered why rhinos seem to enjoy caking themselves in mud? Or pondered over what the collective noun for a group of rhinos is? Well fear not, inquisitive folk, because ARKive is here to answer your questions!

To celebrate World Rhino Day and help raise awareness for these magnificent mammals, we’ve gathered together some awesome images and fascinating facts about the five (yes, five!) different species of rhino for you to enjoy.

I’m a sensitive soul…

Black rhino image

Black rhino wallowing

Despite their tough-guy appearance, rhinos actually have quite sensitive skin. By wallowing in mud and allowing it to dry, rhinos are essentially covering themselves in a protective layer which acts as a barrier to biting insects and the sun’s harmful rays. I’m all for environmentally friendly products, but I’m not sure I’ll be trying this particular natural sun-screen method myself next summer…!

High-speed horn

Northern white rhino image

Northern white rhino running

They may look chunky and unable to move at more than a slow trot, but don’t be fooled! Black rhinos can run at speeds of up to 30 miles an hour, and can change direction rapidly. However, this species is definitely more of a sprinter than a marathon contestant, and can only run at this speed in short bursts.

Pucker up!

Black rhino image

The black rhino has a pointy, prehensile upper lip

One of the easiest ways to tell black and white rhinos apart is by checking out the shape of their lips. As browsers, black rhinos have a pointy, prehensile upper lip to pluck fruits and leaves from trees, whereas the square-lipped white rhinos are grazers, acting much like giant lawnmowers as they plod through the grassy savannah.

Can we have an ‘awww’?!

Southern white rhino image

Young southern white rhino

Baby rhinos are cute! OK, this may not technically count as a top fact, but I still think it’s accurate! White rhino pregnancies last for a whopping 16 months, and the calf drinks its mother’s milk for 1 to 2 years.

Military mammal?!

Indian rhino image

Indian rhinos have a somewhat armour-plated appearance

The Indian rhino has an armour-like appearance, due to the ‘plates’ of skin that cover its body. Indian rhinos often play host to avian hitchhikers, with various species of ‘tick birds’ riding on their backs. These birds are thought to feed on parasites found between the lumpy folds of the rhino’s skin.

Crash, bang…wallow?!

Souther white rhino image

A group of rhinos is known, rather appropriately, as a 'crash'

The collective noun for a group of rhinos is (drum roll, please!)…a crash! Need we say more?!

A rhino-saur…

Javane rhino image

A secretive Javan rhino

The prehistoric-looking Javan rhino is thought to be one of the most endangered rhino species of all. In fact, the Vietnamese Javan rhino, a subspecies of the Javan rhino, was driven to extinction in 2010.

The furry one

Sumatran rhino image

The Sumatran rhino is covered in reddish-brown hair

The Sumatran rhino is the only Asian rhino species to have two horns. This fact gave it its genus name Dicerorhinus, which comes from the Latin words for two (di), horn (ceros) and nose (rhinos). This species is also rather distinctive in that it is covered in reddish-brown hair. Despite being big and bulky, the Sumatran rhino is surprisingly agile, and is a decent swimmer.

Blind as a…rhino??

White rhino image

Rhinos have poor eyesight

Rhinos may have sharp hearing and a keen sense of smell, but they have very poor eyesight, and white rhinos are only able to see up to a distance of about 20 metres or so.

Help for the horned ones

Southern white rhino image

Southern white rhino

Rhino horns grow as much as 8 centimetres a year, and have been known to grow up to an incredible 1.5 metres! Sadly, rhinos are often poached for these horns, which are believed by some cultures to have medicinal properties. However, there is no scientific evidence for this, and in actual fact rhino horn is made of keratin, the same substance found in our own hair and nails. All five rhino species are threatened with extinction, and urgent action is needed if these magnificent creatures are to survive for future generations to admire.

Get involved

For more information about World Rhino Day, and events and activities in your area, visit the World Rhino Day website.

To learn more about rhinos and their conservation, visit the International Rhino Foundation.

To find out more about the rhino crisis, visit Saving Rhinos.

And finally, don’t forget to check out our rhino conservation board on Pinterest.

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author

  • Doug Norris (September 22nd, 2012 at 10:56 am):

    “Sadly, rhinos are often poached for these horns, which are believed by some cultures to have medicinal properties. However, there is no scientific evidence for this, and in actual fact rhino horn is made of keratin, the same substance found in our own hair and nails.”

    Some believe that rhino horn is an aphrodisiac. It’s sad that this misguided belief is threatening rhinos when chewing one’s finger nails will serve the same purpose (none!)

  • fazekas (September 22nd, 2012 at 4:12 pm):

    les rhinos sont des magnifiques animaux, venus droit de la prehistoire et les massacrer est un veritable genocide!!!

  • Daniel McCarthy (September 22nd, 2012 at 4:38 pm):

    I noticed that “extinction” is not among your more popular tags. I wonder, having been distant from the scientific community for several years, how its members are reacting to the current worsening climate change dilemma and impending catastrophe. I happen to believe we humans are long past the point of no return in environmental collapse, and are in for a bleak future, indeed. I rarely mention this view, as it invariably evokes the predictable horrified hush, but occasionally find someone willing to brave the discussion, briefly. I wonder if it isn’t time for Science to nudge the argument toward the next, unpleasant, step. I suppose we don’t yet know what that step is. Anyway, I appreciate your work and admire your courage. And, thank you.

  • kayvan (September 22nd, 2012 at 10:53 pm):

    brilliant website very nice information so sad to hear aboutextinction of vietnamese rhino…..

  • Małgorzata (September 23rd, 2012 at 6:29 pm):

    You are the heros, your work is inestimable, the human feelings must wake up and the wildlife will survive, I believe…..thank you

  • Gaynor (September 24th, 2012 at 9:49 am):

    They say you learn something new every day – a crash of rhinos – what else?! Lovely pictures, interesting facts, beautiful animals – extinction is unbelievable…

  • Elsa (September 25th, 2012 at 2:08 am):

    Help save the Rhino’s in South Africa! Poaching has increased to a staggering 437 in total as of 3 September 2012. Vist this site with links to how you can help:

  • binetou (September 25th, 2012 at 1:41 pm):

    merci pour ces reportages qui permettent de connaitre beaucoup mieux les animaux et ainsi , d’être plus sensible à leur besoin de protection

  • Roberto (September 26th, 2012 at 3:13 pm):

    So sad to hear about the Vietnamese recent extinction. Some times I really hate human beings for the way they meastreat this world and its inhabitants and this is one of those times! Roberto , Milan, Italy

  • Meta (September 26th, 2012 at 9:56 pm):

    Danke für Eure wundervolle Seite!!!. Ich liebe die Natur.

  • Dr. Kamara (September 27th, 2012 at 9:52 am):

    There is a negative side to some of the local cultures. These negative sides unfortunately are so deeply engraved in community minds which is why such species like the Rhinos are facing extinction. A cultural briefs flexibility mind set is worth trying.