The Rhinoceros is among the largest herbivores on the planet, eating more than 200 species of plants, shrubs, legumes and herbs. Whoosh–that is a high fiber diet. (Rhinos must make some of the biggest poops on the planet too…)
There are two different species in the family Rhinocerotidae. The Black Rhinoceros, also called the Hook-lipped Rhinoceros, is the smaller of the two. (But they are still WAY bigger than you! ) A male may weigh almost 3,000 pounds and a female is about 400 or 500 pounds lighter than the male. Hook-lipped rhinos have a curved lip that’s almost pointy which allows him to pick out the tastiest bits on plants and bushes, as well as munching on grass.
The Black Rhino is critically endangered (This means that there are very few left in the wild.) and although they are growing in numbers, you can only see them in well protected reserves in east and south Africa. (A reserve is a kind of private playground for animals. It helps the animals stay safe while allowing humans to go on safari to look for them.) A reserve is not a zoo–the animals roam about wherever they want and the people have to stay in trucks, although some reserves do have a fence around them to keep special animals, like rhinos, particularly safe. (And also so the animals can’t wander into a nearby town to buy chocolate.)
The White Rhinoceros, or Square-lipped Rhinoceros is much bigger than his relative
and a full-grown male can weigh up to 5,000 pounds! He has a square mouth which he uses to munch on grass in much the same way that a hippopotamus does. No bushes and shrubs for him! The white rhino also has a big bump (or maybe it’s a hump?) on his neck which helps distinguish him from the black rhino.
Now, don’t be fooled. The rhino is no more white or black in colour than you have stripes. (You aren’t striped, are you? Because if you are this would be a bad example. Plus, if you have stripes, please send me a picture for my next book.) They actually range in colour from slate-gray to yellowish-brown. Both families of rhinos have two horns on the front of their head, which are pretty cool. They have very poor eye sight, good hearing and their sense of smell is fantastic–so never stand down wind from a rhinoceros when you haven’t taken a bath.