The Wildlife Habits of African Rhinos

By Tom Ryan

Anup Shah/Photodisc/Getty Images

While Africa is home to both white and black rhinoceroses, the animals share many wildlife habits. Their differences are mostly biological; socially, they aren't entirely dissimilar. Worth noting, though, is that they're both massive beasts with the potential to do serious damage to an adversary -- white or black, a rhino is a force to be reckoned with.

Keeping Cool

Rhinos have relatively sensitive skin, so they have to carefully protect themselves from parasites and the harsh heat of the African sun. They typically hide out in the shade during midday, opting to do most of their grazing and wandering in the morning and evening. To save their hides, they wallow in mud, which coats their skin and gives it a layer of protection against UV rays and insects that would normally prey on them.

Protecting the Young

Mother rhinos have fierce maternal instincts, and in the wild, they develop a close bond with their young. In fact, a baby rhino may stay with his mother for two or three years, during which time the mother grants him protection from potential threats. Because a mother rhino and her child are so closely bonded, and because they only give birth to one baby at a time, female rhinos don't reproduce more than once every 2 1/2 to 5 years.

Living Social

These are relatively social creatures, though black rhinos are more likely to live a solitary existence. A white rhino may group up with a dozen or so others, forming a group called a "crash." Black rhinos keep to themselves and tend to stay obscured in the African brush, while white rhinos are less shy about traveling across the open plains in groups. When a rhino is ready to socialize and meet others of his kind, he advertises himself by distributing excrement and spraying urine around his habitat to attract others.

Aggressive Habits

African rhinos have a reputation for aggression, which both is and isn't deserved. For example, the typically solitary black rhino has notoriously poor eyesight, which can spark defensiveness or an attack when confronted by a potential threat. Rhinos do occasionally get into territorial fights with others, and a mother rhino won't hesitate to show aggression to anyone or anything threatening her calf.

Photo Credits

  • Anup Shah/Photodisc/Getty Images

Author

Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.