White Rhinoceros








Collective noun



Roots, grasses, fruit and bark

White rhinos are the second-largest land mammal and their name comes from the Afrikaan’s, a West Germanic language, word “weit” which means wide and refers to the animal’s mouth. Also known as the square-lipped rhinoceros, white rhinos have a square upper lip with almost no hair. Two genetically different subspecies exist the northern and southern white rhino, and are found in two different regions in Africa.

Calling Africa’s grassy plains home, white rhinos sometimes gather in groups of as many as a dozen individuals, but for the most part are solitary animals. Females reproduce only every two and a half to five years. Their single calf does not live on its own until it is about three years old.

Under the hot African sun, rhinos tend to wallow in the mud, which serves as a cooling technique, effective sun protection and insect repellent. After wallowing, the visual colour of the animal inevitably matches the colour of the local soil.

White rhinos are perfectly designed to eat grass. With short legs, their long head reaches almost to the ground. When eating they swing their head from side to side, making their square mouth the perfect shape to maximise the amount of grass they can grab in one swing. Rhinos can consume 60-80kg of food a day and up to 80 litres of water.

These incredible mammals have two horns, the foremost more prominent than the other. Rhino horns grow as much as three inches a year, and have been known to grow up to five feet long. Females use their horns to protect their young, while males use them to battle attackers.

Conservation Status

Did You Know?

Rhinos spend a lot of time making feathered friends! Rhinos are often seen with Oxpeckers (or ‘tick birds’) perched on their back, which live off the pesky parasitic insects living in the rhino’s thick skin. The birds’ loud cries also help alert their big buddies of potential danger, too!

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