Rhinos - Types, characteristics and habitat

Rhinos are part of the group of largest mammals on Earth, generally exceeding the ton in weight. Although with certain variations between one species and another, they seem to be endowed with an armor that, together with the presence of one or two horns, gives them their particular appearance. They are animals that are usually quite solitary and territorial, joining only for reproduction or when a female keeps the young close until her independence..

Despite their strength and the fact that most species are not sociable (in fact, they respond somewhat aggressively to any approach), rhinos have been a considerably threatened species, even disappearing in various regions. To learn more about these large mammals, we invite you to read this AnimalWised article, in which you will find information about types of rhinos and their characteristics.

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  1. Rhino characteristics
  2. Where do rhinos live?
  3. Types of rhinos
  4. Rhino conservation status

Rhino characteristics

Although each species of rhinoceros has particular characteristics that allow it to be differentiated, there are some common traits among the various groups, which we will know below:

  • Classification: rhinos belong to the order Perissodactyla, suborder Ceratomorphs and to the family Rhinocerotidae.
  • Fingers: being a perissodactyl species, they have an odd number of fingers, in this case three, the central one being more developed, which serves as its main support. All fingers end in hooves.
  • Weight: rhinos reach large body masses, weighing at least almost 1,000 kg. At birth, depending on the species, they reach between 40 and 65 kg.
  • Skin: they have a fairly thick skin, formed by a set of tissues or layers of collagen that, in total, can measure up to 5 cm thick.
  • HornRhinoceros' horn is not an extension of its skull, so it lacks bony compounds. On the contrary, it is made up of fibrous keratin tissue, which can grow depending on the sex and age of the animal.
  • Sight: they have a poor sense of sight, not being the case of smell and hearing, which they use to a greater extent.
  • Digestive system: they have a simple digestive system, which is not divided into chambers, so that digestion is carried out post-gastric in the large and cecum intestine.

Rhino feeding

Rhino's food is based on exclusively in plants, for what they are herbivorous animals, which must ingest high contents of vegetal matter to be able to sustain their large bodies. Each species of rhinoceros has a preference for a particular herbivorous type of diet, some even go as far as fell trees to consume its greener and newer leaves.

The white rhino, for example, has a preference for herbs or non-woody plants, leaves, roots and, if available, can include small woody plants. Instead, the black rhino mainly feeds on shrubs, leaves, and low tree branches. For its part, the Indian rhinoceros makes it from herbs, leaves, tree branches, riverside plants, fruits and even on some occasions of plantations.

The Java rhinoceros is capable of felling trees to take advantage of the newest shoots and also feeds on a wide variety of plants, thanks to the availability of them in the habitat of this species. Likewise, it includes the consumption of fallen fruits. As for the Sumatran rhinoceros, it bases its diet on leaves, branches, tree bark, seeds and small trees..

For more information, you can consult this other article about ¿What do rhinos eat??

Where do rhinos live?

Each species of rhinoceros lives in a particular habitat That will depend on the region or country in which it is located, being able to live in both arid and tropical habitats. In this sense, the white rhinoceros that inhabits much of North and South Africa, is distributed mainly in areas of dry savannas, such as grasslands, or in wooded savannas. The black rhino is also found in Africa, with quite small or probably extinct populations in countries such as Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and the ecosystems in which it usually inhabits are made up of arid and semi-arid zones.

As for the Indian rhinoceros, it formerly had a greater range of distribution that included countries such as Pakistan and China, however, given human pressures and habitat alteration, it is currently limited to grassland and forest areas in Nepal, Assam and India, also to low hills in the Himalayas.

The Javan rhinoceros, for its part, inhabits tropical forests lowland, alluvial plains with mud and tall grasslands. Although at one time they were spread throughout Asia, today the small population is restricted to the island of Java. And for its part, the Sumatran rhinoceros, also with a depleted population (of about 300 individuals), can be located in mountainous areas from Malacca, Sumatra and Borneo.

Types of rhinos

Throughout the natural history of the planet, a wide variety of rhinos have existed, however, most have become extinct. Currently, there are five species of rhinoceros grouped into four genera. Let's know what they are:

White rhino

The white rhino (Ceratotherium simun) belongs to the genus Ceratotherium and is one of the largest species rhinos, reaching more than 4 meters in length and 2 in height, weighing 4 or more tons.

Its color really is light grey and it has two horns. Its mouth is flat and is formed by a wide and thick lip, which is adapted to the vegetation of the savanna..

They recognize two subspecies: the northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) and the southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum), however, the first species is practically extinct. In general, the white rhino is in the category "Near threatened ", after recovering from the "almost extinct " category due to the terrible indiscriminate hunting it suffered for years to obtain its horn.

Black rhino

The black rhinoDiceros bicornis) is a species belonging to the genus Diceros. It is also typical of the African savanna, but its coloration is of a darker gray and in addition to smaller size than the white rhino. Its prehensile mouth is shaped like a beak, which is adapted to feed directly on the leaves and branches of the bushes. They reach an average of 1.5 meters in height with more than 3 meters in length and a weight of about 1,400 kilos.

There is no consensus as to the number of existing subspecies, which are established from four to eight, however, some of the recognized ones are extinct. The black rhinoceros is listed as in "critical danger of extinction ".

Indian rhino

The Indian rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) belongs to the genus Rhinoceros, measures more than 3 meters in length and almost 2 in height, and has single horn. His skin is colored silver brown and its folds give the impression of being protective armor in his body.

A distinctive feature of this species is its ability to swim, since it can spend more time in the water than other types of rhinoceros. On the other hand, it is classified as "vulnerable ", since it has also been a victim of hunting to use its horn in popular rituals and for the creation of objects such as daggers.

Java rhino

The Java Rhino (Rhinoceros probeicus) belongs to the genus Rhinoceros and has been cataloged as "critically endangered species ", being on the brink of extinction. In fact, the few remaining individuals are located in a protected area of ​​the island..

They can measure a little more than 3 meters long and almost 2 meters high, with a weight that manages to exceed the 2 tons. Males have a single horn, while females have a small bump. Its coloration is similar to the Indian rhinoceros, only less intense.

Sumatran rhino

The Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is the smallest species of rhinoceros that exists and its genus corresponds to Dicerorhinus, being the one that presents more primitive features that the others. It has two horns and more hair than the rest. Males measure a little more than one meter, while females less than this measure and the average weight is 800 kilos. Poaching has led to consider the species as "critically endangered ", since it is also a victim of popular beliefs about the benefits it has in various conditions.

Rhino conservation status

Because, in general, all rhinoceros species are in danger of extinction, their lives depend on the increase and pressure of the conservation measures; otherwise, extinction will remain the common path for all.

Necessary review popular beliefs, since despite being forms of cultural expression, none is valid if they threaten the lives of animals, which in many cases leads them to disappear completely. Definitely, this is a job that must be assumed by those who create and apply the laws in the different regions of the planet..

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