Rhinos, like giraffes and zebras, are one of those distinctive animals that are instantly recognizable without any room for doubt. Baby rhinos are no different. They are like mini versions of their adult forms, and to the eye, they could be nothing else but a baby rhino.
While we all might know what a baby rhino looks like, there are plenty things about these cute little animals that are not as widely known. In this post we take a look at a selection of baby rhino facts, and answer some of the most frequently asked questions. We might even have a few pictures of these cute little thick skinned babies!
7 Incredible Baby Rhino Facts
Baby Rhinos Are Called Calves
Baby rhinos, like many large mammals such as baby whales and baby moose, are called ‘calves‘. Male rhinos grow up to be ‘bulls‘ and females grow to be ‘cows‘ and females tend to be more social than solitary males.
There is no collective noun for a group of baby rhinos, but a group of rhinos in general are collectively known as a ‘crash‘ of rhinos. They may also be known as a ‘herd‘ of rhinos, but herding of more than a handful of individuals is rare.
Rhino Calves Are On Their Feet Very Quickly
A newborn rhino calf is able to stand relatively soon after birth, although they will be wobbly on their feet. Other mammals that can do this include baby donkeys, baby deer and baby sheep. Rhino calves however may take a couple of days to be able to walk properly. It takes them time to find their balance!
Rhino Calves begin to nurse two to three hours after birth and will continue until they are 12 to 18 months of age, although male claves will nurse for longer as they grow much larger as adults.
Baby Rhinos Are Very Playful
Baby rhinos love to play, both in the wild and in captivity. Play is important for baby rhinos to not only develop bonds, but to also develop motor skills, muscles, agility and healthy skin.
They love to play in mud and this is great for their skin. By covering their body with soft mud, not only does it keep moisture locked in the skin but also shields them from pesky bugs and sunlight.
They also love to stamp their feet, run and practice their charge, which is a skill they will need for protection later in life.
Baby Rhinos Are As Big As Adult Humans
The average rhino baby weighs around 88 to 140 lbs (40 to 64 kg) at birth, but white rhinos can be slightly larger at around 150 lbs (68kg), and they start to put on weight quickly.
The average Asian woman weighs around 130 lb, and the average 20 year old American woman weighs roughly 170 lbs. According to healthline, a BMC Public Health Report in 2012 revealed that the average adult human weight across all continents, is 136.7 lbs.
So baby rhinos at the heavier end of the scale, from the moment they are born, are heavier than the average human adult.
Baby Rhinos Cry
Baby rhinos are known to make a variety of different sounds, particularly around feeding. They will make a sort of ‘cooing’ sound when they are hungry, but when their milk runs out and they are not quite satisfied, they are also known to cry.
In video footage of baby rhinos being fed, when the milk runs out they make a sort of high pitched cry, like a cross between a whining dog and a squeaky fence.
Although rare for some species, for those that do come together in small herds, they learn other vocalizations too. They will learn a range of grunts, chuffs, snorts and squeaks to communicate amongst themselves and alert other individuals of any incoming threats or invaders.
Most Baby Rhinos Never Meet Their Fathers
With most species, male and female rhinos only usually come together for mating, and are otherwise quite solitary. Following mating, the adult male and female go their separate ways, and are unlikely to meet again.
The calf will typically stay with its mother for around 2-3 years, possibly more depending on when the mother has her next calf. While baby rhinos might mingle with other female rhinos and their calves, the father is generally not included in this social circle.
Baby Rhinos Develop Symbiotic Relationships With Birds
For a long time, it has been known that rhinos develop a symbiotic relationship with some birds. Even as youngsters, rhinos develop these relationships. The most documented, is with the oxpecker bird.
In Swahili, the oxpecker bird is even named as “askari wa kifaru”, which literally translates to “the rhino’s guard”.
With African rhinos, the oxpecker bird feeds on insects, parasites, ticks and other bugs that plague the rhinoceros’ hide while simultaneously creating a ruckus when it senses any imminent danger. In this way, they help warn their host of impending trouble.
Similarly, Asian rhinos, and in particular the Indian rhino have partnered in symbiosis with numerous species of birds like the myna bird.
Sometimes these relationships can turn from symbiotic to parasitic, where the bird actually does harm to the rhino. Researchers have observed red-billed oxbirds pecking at sores and open wounds on rhinos, which can make them fester or bleed. In these cases the relationship is no longer mutually beneficial.
Baby Rhino FAQs
What Is the Lifecycle Of A Baby Rhino?
The gestation period of a female rhino is between 14 – 16 months depending on the species. She will give birth to one single calf, or very rarely twins.
The rhino calves begin to nurse two to three hours after birth and will continue until they are 12 to 18 months of age. They begin to eat solid food at 7 to 10 days of age to subsidise their mothers milk.
Rhino youngsters will stay with their mother until they are around three years old, but may be pushed out earlier if their mother has another baby.
Most rhinos are sexually mature and able to mate by the time they reach 6 years of age and females mature quicker than males.
The overall life span of a rhino averages between 25 – 40 years. In captivity they live a little longer because they are more protected – usually to about 45 years old.
How Big Do Baby Rhinos Grow
Rhino babies can range in size depending on the different breed. A black rhino calf will weigh about 100 pounds at birth, whereas the white rhino calves are larger, at around 150 pounds. Across all species, the average rhino calf will weigh around 88 to 140 lbs (40 to 64 kg)
Rhinos are the second largest land animal, behind only the elephant. The largest rhino is the white rhino, and can grow up to 12 to 13 feet (3.7 to 4 meters) long and up to 6 feet (1.8 m) from hoof to shoulder. They can weigh around 5,000 lbs (2,300 kilograms)!
Asian rhinos are smaller in general, with even the largest Indian rhinos only reaching about 4,000 lbs in adulthood.
The smallest rhino is the Sumatran rhino and usually grows to about 8 to 10 feet (2.5 to 3 m) long and up to 4.8 feet (1.5 m) from hoof to shoulder. They weigh around 1,765 lbs (800 kg).
How Many Baby Rhinos Are Born In A Litter?
Usually only one infant is born from a pregnancy. They do sometimes have twins but this is very rare. A female rhino can have a baby every 2-3 years while fertile. Some rhinos, particularly the Javan rhino only have offspring every 4-5 years.
What Do Baby Rhinos Look Like?
Baby rhinos look like mini adults but with a much shorter horn. At first, they just have a stub where their horns (or horn depending on the species) will later grow. Everything is more or less in proportion but because they are smaller and their features more condensed, they are obviously cuter!
Do Baby Rhinos Have Teeth?
Baby rhinos are not born with teeth, but develop two sets of teeth over their lives. In a similar way to many animals including baby rabbits, baby lions and also baby humans, baby rhinos are ‘diphyodonts‘. They develop a set of milk teeth which erupt and grow in over their first 3 to 9 months.
The permanent teeth will start to replace milk teeth after 9 months, mostly growing in over 18 months. The last tooth can take up to 7 years to appear.
All rhinos develop molars and premolars, but only the Asian rhinos develop incisors. Of the Asian rhinos, the Sumatran rhino and the Indian rhino otherwise known as the ‘great one horned rhino‘ develops incisors when they are young.
To protect itself against predators and other rhinos, the Indian rhino doesn’t rely on its horn alone. Instead, it will use these incisors and their canine teeth to defend themselves.
What Do Baby Rhinos Eat?
Baby rhinos are mammals, and as such for the first part of their lives they drink their mothers milk. For the first two months or so, they live only on their mothers milk, but will start introducing solid food after that. They will continue to nurse until they are around a year old, while also getting used to their adult diet.
Rhinos are herbivores and spend the morning, late afternoon and nighttime eating. The type of vegetation they eat varies by species, which is because their snouts are different shapes to accommodate different types of food. They can either be grazers and browsers.
Grazers primarily feed on grasses with a preference for shorter grasses, while browsers focus their attention on food that’s above eye level — with preferences including twigs, fruit, and leaves.
Where Do Baby Rhinos Live?
Baby rhinos across all species will live with their mothers until the next offspring is born, usually for around 2 years. Other than this, rhinos are relatively solitary animals, though some, such as the white rhino are often found in small herds of up to 6 or 7 individuals. White rhinos are more social than black rhinos.
Different species of rhino prefer different habitats. For example, black rhinos and their calves live in Tanzania and the arid and semi-arid savannas of Namibia, southern Angola, western Botswana and western South Africa. White rhinos habitat is tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas and shrub lands, particularly in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya.
Of the Asian species, the Indian rhino lives in small populations in north-eastern India and Nepal. The Javan and Sumatran rhinos are restricted mostly to the islands from which they are named, with a small population also believed to exist in Myanmar.
Natural Predators Of Baby Rhinos
Despite having very thick skin, making it hard for predators to peirce and wound them, baby rhinos do have predators they need to look out for.
The African rhino’s chief predators are lions, while tigers are the biggest threat to the Asian species, particularly the Indian rhino. Other predators that may target young African white rhino or black rhino calves given the right opportunity, include leopards, hyenas, wild dogs and Nile crocodiles. Baby rhinos are particularly vulnerable to predators at night.
Where Does The Name Rhino Come From?
Derived from the Greek words rhino (nose) and ceros (horn), the term rhinoceros was created to represent these formidable animals with their characteristic horns.