Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family:    Rhinocerotidae
Size:    Height 3 to 7 feet (0.9 to 2.1 m) at the shoulder  Length: 7 to 14 feet (2.1 to 4.2 m)
Weight: 3,300 to 7,700 pounds (1497 to 3500 kg)
Diet: Mainly grass; also fruit, flowers and crops
Distribution: India, Nepal and Bhutan
Young:  1 calf, every 2 to 3 years
Animal Predators:  Tigers prey on the young
IUCN Status: Endangered
Terms: Young: Calf
Lifespan: Up to 47  years in captivity



·       All five rhino species are threatened with extinction and are included in the IUCN Red List.

·       Rhinoceros: from Greek, meaning nose and horn; unicornis: from Latin meaning one horn.

·       The Indian rhino and the African white rhino are the largest land mammals (after elephants).

·       Rhinos have approximately 10 vocalisations, including roars, snorts, and honks.

·       They are believed to have lived in North America, but became extinct there many years ago.



Despite their vegetarian diet, Indian rhinos have two long canine teeth in their lower jaw. As well, they have a special front lip to enable them to grasp food. Both male and female rhinos have a single horn made of keratin, the same material found in human fingernails, which is highly valued in Asian medicine. Although rhinos have poor eyesight, they have excellent hearing and an acute sense of smell.



Rhinos live in forested areas but can be found grazing in grassy areas near rivers or swamps. They each have a territory of approximately one to nine square miles (2.5 to 23 square km), but their ranges overlap and they are very tolerant of each other. 


Feeding Habits

The main part of their diets consists of grass, but they also eat a large variety of plants including fruit, flowers and crops.



There is no set mating season—mating may occur at any time throughout the year. The pregnancy lasts 15 to 16 months. After giving birth, the female produces five to seven gallons (19 to 26 litres) of milk per day to feed her calf, which weighs up to 154 pounds (70 kg). The baby nurses from 12 to 18 months, but begins to graze at two months, and stays with its mother until she gives birth to a younger sibling. Young Indian rhinos are sexually mature as early as four years for females, and nine years for males.



Indian rhinoceroses are solitary animals, usually only found together when mating or when a mother has a dependent youngster, although they do meet up at common watering and/or wallowing areas. They roll in mud at wallows to coat themselves all over for protection from the sun and from parasites. Although all rhinoceroses, especially black rhinos, are thought of as being aggressive and dangerous, they are usually quite peaceful and shy, except when threatened. When angered or frightened, they charge towards the source of the danger and in that case, can be extremely dangerous.



Although the Indian rhinoceros once ranged throughout Southeast Asia, most of the wild population today is found only in protected areas in India, Bhutan  and Nepal. The wild Indian rhino population now numbers approximately 2,400 and projects are underway to reintroduce populations to areas where they have been extirpated. One Nepal rhino population is protected by almost two guards for every rhino, and this kind of protection is has led to an increase of numbers in the last century (there were around 100 Indian rhinos in the wild in 1900).



Indian Rhinoceros Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US