Other than just being colossal members of the Big Five, rhinos are also identified by a definitive name ‘rhinoceros’. The name is derived from Greek words rhino (meaning nose) and ceros (referring to the horn). Similarly respectable, is the fact that they exist in a number of species, 5 to be precise, which are Black, White, Javan, Sumatran and the Greater One-Horned.
In order to understand the enormity of the name rhinoceros, I should enlighten you on a number of other animal species that have it in their names. They include; rhinoceros beetle, rhinoceros rat snake, rhinoceros viper, rhinoceros hornbill, rhinoceros auklet, rhinoceros iguana, rhinoceros shrimp and rhinoceros cockroach. This is not to necessarily mean that they evolved from one ancestor but implies they all have horned appendages on their noses. That being said, let’s get to the more interesting facts.
#1 Big Money Assets
Rhino horns are the most valuable asset of poachers and the demand is fueled by their structural makeup. They are made up of Keratin, a substance also found in hair and fingernails. Rhino horns average about 20 inches with the longest recorded being 4 feet and 9 inches.
As much as rhinos may be highly regarded for their ill-temper, they are not any different from other animals except the fact that they have poor eyesight. Their general disposition is therefore a factor of their vision. Due to their shortsightedness, they tend to see most movements as provocative and frightening and therefore charge in agitation. Even so, rhinos make up for their sight limitation by having impeccable senses of hearing and smell.
#3 Research Value
Away from their eco value, they are also much-admired by researcher for the process that forms and auto-repairs their horns. It is said that an understanding of the process by auto makers could help in the creation of better impact-resistant bumpers for vehicles.
When rhinos occur as a group, they are referred to as a crash. There are many other groups like bats (colony), turkeys (flock), bees (swarm), alligators (congregation), fish (school), clams (bed), frogs (army), hyenas (clan), coyotes (band) and lions (pride) that have fascinating names. The big question is who thinks of such names?
Rhinos can sometimes be referred to as pachyderms (also a Greek name) referring to their thick skin. They used to be grouped together with other thick-skinned species like elephants, pigs, hippos, hyraxes, peccaries, tapirs and horses with the last two being their closest living relatives.
#6 Where it Hurts
Rhinos may be feared for their horns which are used for lethal goring (keeping in mind the fact that they can attain speeds of 40 miles per hour when charging), but they are not their only defense. Some rhinos like the Sumatran and Indian can use their incisors and canines to slash and gouge viciously.
#7 Gestational Champs
Rhinos have pregnancies that last between 15 to 16 months which can only be compared to the gestation period of elephants (nearly two years) and giraffes (13-14 months).
#8 Extended Family
African rhinos have great symbiotic relations with oxpeckers (tick birds) which eat ticks and similar insects found on the rhino skin. More so, the birds function to alert the rhinos in times of danger by causing commotion.
#9 The Difference is the Same
In essence, rhinos are all gray even if some may be called black and others white. The white rhino was actually supposed to be ‘wyd’ (an Afrikaans term for wide) bar for some language misinterpretation. The black rhino on the other hand was probably named from the color of dark wet mud covering their wallows.
#10 Size and Weight
Rhinos can grow to immense sizes measuring up to 11 feet long and 6 feet tall. They could weigh up to over 5,000 pounds especially the white rhino even though the greater one-horned rhino could be taller. The large size is complemented by production of up to 50 pounds of dung per day.
These are just the top ten fascinating facts meaning there are many more exciting things to know about rhinos. We can all keep tabs on these by participating in the World Rhino Day held every year on the 22nd of September. Check out http://www.rhinos.org/stay-informed/world-rhino-day for more information.