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Location, Habitat and Diet

There are two sub-species of white rhinoceroses, the northern and the southern. Northern white rhinoceroses are located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with a population of only 4 documented left in the wild today. Their numbers have been reduced drastically in the past few decades due to widespread poaching. Southern white rhinoceroses have been reintroduced to several countries in southern Africa including Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. Many southern white rhinoceroses live on protected reserves in these countries. White rhinoceroses' habitat is the savannas, woodlands, and plains. They are grazing animals and will feed on grasses and other vegetation that grows near or on the ground.


Size and Description

White rhinoceroses are one of the heaviest land mammals behind African and Asian elephants. They can weigh between 4,000 and 6,000 lbs. They will be 5 - 6 feet tall at the shoulder and 10 - 13 feet in length. On its snout are two horns, the front horn is the larger. The front horn can grow very large (4 or more feet) but will usually be about 2 feet in length. The horns are made of keratin, the substance that is found in human fingernails. The horn of white rhinoceroses is larger than those of other rhinos. If a horn is broken off it will begin to grow again. White rhinoceroses have short legs when compared to their bodies, and have three toes on each foot. There is very little hair on rhinos.

The color of white rhinoceroses is actually grey, not white. Afrikaans, a mixture of native African and Dutch language, used the word "wyd" to describe the "wide" lip that is characteristic of white rhinoceroses. Early English settlers on the continent of Africa interpreted the Afrikaans word "wyd" to mean white, and began calling them "white rhinoceroses". This is one of the main distinguishing characteristics between white rhinoceroses from black rhinoceroses. Black rhinoceroses have a pointed lip, while white rhinoceros have a broad and wide lip used for grazing.


Other Facts

White rhinos are fairly mild-tempered and can be found bathing in mud pools. They will coat themselves in the mud to help stay cool.

 
©Photo: Jean-marc Strydom
    Classification
    Kingdom: Phylum: Order: Class: Family: Genus: Species: Animalia Chordata Mammalia Perissodactyla Rhinoceritidae Ceratotherium simum
           
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