The rhinoceros, which is second in land mammals to the elephant, is the second-largest. Unfortunately, it is also the most aggressive. Although rhinos are known as the bully in the playground, they are very vulnerable to humans. Poaching and habitat loss have caused their numbers to plummet dramatically over the last century, and conservationists are working to save them. Here are some facts about the knight in the armor of nature, recognizing Save the Rhinos Day, May 1.
1. THEY ARE GREEK–AT LEAST IN NAME.
Rhinoceros combines the Greek words rhino (nose) and Keras (horn). So when you reduce the word “rhino” to “nose,” it’s saying “nose.”
2. A GROUP OF RHINOS IS CALLED A “CRASH.”
Crash of Rhinos is also an emo group from Derby, England.
3. THEY ARE 16 FEET HIGH.
Paraceratherium was a hornless rhinoceros species that lived on Earth over 16 feet. It was found in the region of Africa. Scientists don’t know why modern rhinos are smaller. The white rhino, at 6 feet tall, is one of five species currently in existence. The Sumatran rhino is the smallest species, measuring less than 5 feet tall. It is also the only hairy species and the closest living relative to the extinct woolly rhinoceros.
4. WHITE RHINOS AND BLACK RHINOS ARE THE SAME COLOR.
Both are essentially grayish-brown. A common rumor is that white rhinos were once called wijd (wide) by Dutch settlers in Africa. This refers to the animal’s largemouth, which was later mistranslated into English as “white.” However, Kees Rookmaaker, a rhino expert, has denied that any linguistic evidence supports that story. So it is still a mystery as to how the white rhino got its name.
5. RHINOS SAY MMWONK WHEN THEY’RE HAPPY.
Indian rhinos can make up to 10 different sounds. These include honks, which are used during head-to-head fights, bleats (signaling submission), or moo-grunts that are used between mothers and their calves. In addition, black rhinos make grunts to greet their visitors and a mmwonk when they are content.
6. THEY HAVE A COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIP WITH THE OXPECKERBIRD.
Oxpeckers are sometimes seen riding on the backs of rhinos. However, there is much debate about whether these birds have any benefit. Although the traditional argument is that they eat ticks and bugs that crawl on rhino skins, research on cattle in 2000 failed to show a consistent use. A 2004 study on captive rhinos (and tick-free) found that oxpeckers were more helpful than useful. However, others have found that birds do consume ticks and other similar insects. One benefit of the birds for rhinos is that they can detect people walking up to rhinos 23 percent of all the time. This was according to an experiment done in 2010. As a result, the number of oxpeckers in the area jumped to 97 percent. This may explain why the oxpecker has been called the “rhino’s guard” in Swahili.
7. THEY ARE LONG-DISTANCE SPRAYERS.
Alpha male Indian rhinos can spray urine over 16 feet in a display of dominance. This can be done when other males are present or when the females are breeding-age. Other rhinos spray urine, too: Males do this to mark territory. Female Sumatran rhinos were observed spraying urine 69 times per hour before giving birth. This behavior continued even after the calf was euthanized, which is likely to mask the scent of their calf.
8. THEY COMMUNICATE BY POOP.
One study found that white rhino droppings can be used as unique identifiers. This means that one sniff of a heap of dung can instantly identify the rhino’s age, gender, and reproductive status. The midden is the common place where all white rhinos go to defecate. It is a communal dumping site.
Courtney Marneweck, who is the head of the study, stated that while we think of dung only as a waste product, it can be a way for animals to communicate. “There is a lot of information out there that we have not taken advantage of.”
9. THEIR FARTS SMELL LIKE SULFUR.
According to the book Does It Fart!, Rhinos are known for passing particularly noxious gases.
When yeast ferment alcohol, it produces hydrogen sulfide, which gives off a sulfur smell. This is known as a rhinofart.
10. THE MALES CAN GET AGGRESSIVE.
When it comes to matters of heart, rhinos aren’t afraid of using their horns. Black rhino males are aggressive in their pursuit of mates. The “mortal fight” rate among these horned lovers, which is much higher than any other mammal, is unsurpassed. Injuries sustained during the fighting resulted in the deaths of about half of males and 30% of females.