Rhinos belong to the order Perissodactyla, suborder Ceratomorphs (which they only share with tapirs) and family Rhinocerotidae. These animals make up the group of large land mammals, like elephants and hippos, weighing up to more than 3 tons. Despite their weight, size, and generally aggressive behavior, all rhinos are classified as an endangered species. Specifically, three of the five types of rhinos that exist are in a critical situation due to their massive hunting.
If you are curious about these animals and want to know more about their way of feeding, continue reading this AnimalWised article, in which we will explain what do rhinos eat.You may also be interested in: What do beetles eat? Index
- Rhinoceros characteristics and curiosities
- Are rhinos carnivores or herbivores?
- What does the white rhino eat?
- What does the black rhino eat?
- What does the Indian rhino eat?
- What does the java rhino eat?
- What does the Sumatran rhino eat?
Rhinoceros characteristics and curiosities
The rhino horn is its most characteristic feature. In fact, its name originates precisely from the presence of this structure, since the term "rhinoceros " means horned nose, which comes from a combination of Greek words.
In hoofed animals, the horn is an extension of the skull, formed by a bony nucleus and covered with keratin. However, in rhinos this is not the case, since the horn lacks a bony nucleus, being a fibrous structure composed of dead or inert cells which are completely filled with keratin. The horn also has calcium and melanin salts in its nucleus; both compounds provide protection, the first against wear and tear and the second against the sun's rays.
Due to the presence of specialized epidermal cells that are located at the base, rhino horn can regenerate from periodic growths. This growth will depend on factors such as age and sex. For example, in the case of African rhinos, the structure grows between 5-6 cm per year.
As we have mentioned, rhinos are large and heavy animals. Usually, all species exceed a ton and they are able to knock down trees because of their great strength. Also, compared to its size, the brain is small, the eyes are located on each side of the head, and the skin is quite thick. As for your senses, smell and hearing are the most developed; on the contrary, the eyesight is poor. They are usually quite territorial and lonely.
Types of rhinos
At present, there are five species of rhinos, which are:
- White rhino (Ceratotherium simun).
- Black rhino (Diceros bicornis).
- Indian rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis).
- Java Rhino (Rhinoceros probeicus).
- Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis).
In this article, we will explain what each type of rhino eats..
However, the rhino is not the only animal with horns. Discover other animals with this characteristic in Horned Animals - Big, Long and Twisted.
Are rhinos carnivores or herbivores?
Rhinos are herbivorous animals that, to maintain their large bodies, depend on the consumption of high contents of plant matter, which can be soft and nutritious parts of plants, although in cases of scarcity they eat foods high in fibers that are processed in their digestive system.
Each of the rhinoceros species consumes various types of plants or parts of these that are available in their natural ecosystems.
Rhinoceros digestive system
Each animal group has particular adaptations to consume, process and acquire the nutrients from food that are present in their natural habitats. In the case of rhinos, these adaptations can be seen in the fact that some species have lost their front teeth and others hardly use them for food. Thus, they use their lips to eat, which depending on the species can be prehensile or wide to take their food. However yeah use premolar and molar teeth, since they are highly specialized structures with a large surface area to grind the food.
The rhinoceros digestive system is simple, as in all Perissodactyls, so the stomach has no chambers. However, thanks to the postgastric fermentation that is carried out by microorganisms in the large and cecum intestine, it is possible to digest the large amounts of cellulose that these animals consume. This assimilation system is not so efficient, since many of the proteins produced by the metabolism of the food consumed by these animals are not used, so that the consumption of large volumes of food It's very important.
What does the white rhino eat?
The white rhino was on the brink of extinction about a hundred years ago. Today, thanks to conservation programs, it has become possible to be the most abundant rhinoceros species in the world. However, it is in the category of almost threatened.
This animal is distributed in much of Africa, mainly in protected areas, it has two horns, and actually it's gray, not white. It has quite thick lips that it uses to uproot the plants it consumes, as well as a flat and wide mouth that facilitates grazing..
It lives mainly in dry savanna areas, so their feeding is mainly based on:
- Herbs or non-woody plants.
- Small woody plants (depending on availability).
The white rhino is one of the most popular animals in Africa. If you want to know other animals that live on the African continent, we encourage you to read this other article about Animals of Africa.
What does the black rhino eat?
The common name that the black rhino has received is to differentiate it from its African relative, the white rhino, since both are of Gray and they have two horns, but they differ mainly in their dimensions and shape of the mouth.
The black rhino is in the category of critical hazard extinction, with a general population significantly depleted by poaching and habitat loss.
Its original location are arid and semi-arid areas of Africa, and is probably already extinct in the Central African Republic, Angola, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan and Uganda.
The mouth of the black rhino has a pointed shape, which makes it easier for your diet to be based on:
- Leaves and low branches of trees.
What does the Indian rhino eat?
The Indian rhino has a color silver brown and of all the species it is the one that has the greatest appearance of being covered by layers of armor. Unlike the Africans, it has single horn.
This rhinoceros has been forced to reduce its natural habitats due to human pressure. Previously, it was located in Pakistan and China, and today its area is restricted to grasslands and forests in Nepal, Assam and India, and in low hills near the Himalayas. Your current classification status is vulnerable, according to the Red List of Endangered Species.
The Indian rhino feeds on:
- Tree branches.
- Riverside plants.
What does the java rhino eat?
Male Javan rhinoceros present a horn, on the other hand, the females lack it or have a small knot-shaped one. It is a species that is also on the verge of extinction, being classified as critically endangered.
Given the low population number, there are no in-depth studies on the species. The few existing individuals inhabit a protected area of the island of Java in Indonesia.
The Javan rhino has a preference for lowland rainforest, muddy floodplains, as well as tall grasslands. Its upper lip is prehensile in nature and, although it is not one of the largest rhinos, it manages to knock down some trees in order to feed on its newer parts. In addition, it feeds on a great variety of plant genera, which undoubtedly relates to the types of habitats mentioned.
The Javan rhino feeds on new leaves, shoots and fruits. It also requires the consumption of salt to obtain certain nutrients, but due to the absence of reserves of this compound on the island, it has been seen to drink sea water.
What does the Sumatran rhino eat?
With a fairly small population, it has been classified as critically threatened. The Sumatran rhinoceros is the smallest of all, it has two horns and is the one with the most hairs on its body.
This species has quite primitive features that clearly differentiate it from the rest of the rhinos. In fact, studies have shown that it has had practically no variations from its predecessors.
The low existing population is located in mountainous areas of Sundaland (Malacca, Sumatra and Borneo), so that their feeding it's based on:
- Tree bark.
- Small trees.
The Sumatran rhino too lick salt stones to obtain some essential nutrients.
Finally, all rhinos usually drink water as much as possible, however, they are able to last several days without consuming it in case of water shortage.
Given the large size of rhinos, they are practically free of natural predators When they are adults, however, their dimensions have not freed them from the human hand, who has been behind these species for centuries due to popular beliefs of the benefits of their horns or blood for people..
Although the parts of the body of an animal can provide some benefit to humans, its mass killing for this purpose will never be justified, for that science has managed to constantly advance, which allows the synthesis of most of the compounds that are present in the nature.