A rhinoceros (rhino) is a grey, heavy mammal with a distinctive horn sticking out in front of its nose.
These large herbivores are the second largest land animal on our planet. Larger species weigh between 3 and 5 tons and are over 6 feet tall.
Rhinos have tough skin measuring between 0.5 and 2 inches thick. They are herbivores who graze on grasses or use their lips to pluck fruit and leaves from branches.
There are five species of rhino in the world today, three in Asia (Sumatran, Javen, and greater one-horned rhino) and two in Africa (white and black).
Sumatran, black and white rhinos have two horns, greater one-horned rhinos and Javans have one.
The Sumatran rhino appeared on earth nearly 15 million years ago and is the oldest of the living rhinos. Their closest living relatives are tapirs, zebras, and horses.
All five species of rhino have a long gestation period of 15-16 months and give birth to a single calf.
Rhinos are among the most endangered animals in the world. Certain cultures believe that rhino horns and other body parts have medicinal properties and over the last few centuries this has led to extreme overhunting.
Here are animals that share similarities with rhinos:
Scientific name: Tapirus
Quick summary: One of the rhino’s closest relatives.
Tapirs are large herbivorous mammals found in the forests of Central and South America and South East Asia. They are the largest land animal in South Africa and weigh between 300-700 pounds.
Although tapirs are much smaller than a rhino and look very different, there are many similarities between these two animals.
Both tapirs and rhinos are odd-toed ungulates and have feet with three toes.
Like rhinos, tapirs are herbivores. They have a distinctive prehensile nose that they use to grab leaves when foraging for food. Rhinos use their lips to grab food in a similar way.
Tapir pregnancies are very long like rhino pregnancies, and last 13 to 14 months. Both animals give birth to a single calf.
These fascinating animals are an endangered species like rhinos, due to poaching and habitat destruction.
Scientific name: Elephantidae
Quick summary: The only land animal larger than a rhino.
Elephants are the only land animal bigger than a rhino. African elephants can weigh up to 7 tons and the largest rhinos weigh up to 5 tons.
Rhinos are not as tall as elephants and grow to 4 to 7 feet in height. Elephants can reach heights of between 10 and 12 feet.
Both elephants and rhinos have leathery, gray skin but elephants do not have horns. They are recognizable by their long trunk with tusks on either side.
Elephants and rhinos share a similar diet and are both herbivores. Elephants use their trunk for feeding and rhinos use their lips to grab food.
Both animals have a long gestation period. Elephants have the longest pregnancy of any living mammal and are pregnant for an average of 22 months. Rhinos are pregnant for around 15-16 months.
Scientific name: Equus quagga
Quick summary: A black-and-white striped African mammal closely related to rhinos.
A zebra is a black-and-white striped member of the horse family. Although they look very different to rhinos, zebras are one of their closest relatives.
Both rhinos and zebras are included in a group of animals called odd-toed ungulates; they also have hoofed toes on each hindfoot.
Although they have different body shapes, zebras are almost as tall as rhinos and can grow to 5 feet in height.
Zebras have a long gestation period, similar to that of rhinos. The gestation period for a zebra is around 12 to 13 months, around a month less than a rhino.
Zebras live in the woodlands and grasslands of Africa. They are herbivores just like rhinos and eat a wide variety of different grasses and occasionally young trees.
4. Rhino Iguana
Scientific name: Cyclura cornuta
Quick summary: A large lizard with a horn-like protrusion similar to a rhino.
A rhino iguana is a heavy, large lizard found in the tropical islands of the Caribbean. Its name comes from a bony protrusion on its snout that looks like the horn of a rhino.
Rhino iguanas are a member of the Iguanidae family. Although they are tiny compared to rhinos, they are large for a lizard and weigh between 10 to 19 pounds.
These usual animals often have gray skin similar to that of a rhino, but occasionally are dull brown or dark green.
Although their diet is mostly herbivorous like a rhino, they will occasionally eat small insects.
Rhinos and rhino iguanas are both generally docile creatures if unprovoked, but can become aggressive if threatened.
Scientific name: Equus caballus
Quick summary: A domesticated, hoofed mammal related to rhinos.
Horses are one of the most popular domesticated animals in the world. They are large-hoofed mammals of the family Equidae.
Horses are odd-toed ungulates like rhinos, zebras, and tapirs, meaning they have an uneven amount of toes on their hind feet. Rhinos have three toes on each foot, but modern horses only have a single toe.
Although horses don’t look a lot like rhinos, they share a similar diet and are both herbivores.
Rhinos are much heavier than horses, but some breeds of horses are much taller than rhinos. Shire horses can often reach heights of around 7 ft.
A major difference between horses and rhinos is that humans have domesticated horses. Horses have first domesticated approximately 6,000 years ago, but there is no evidence that rhinos have ever been tamed.
Scientific name: Monodon monoceros
Quick summary: A whale with a tusk that looks like a rhino horn.
The narwhal is a medium-sized whale with a long tusk on its head that looks similar to a rhino’s horn. The tusk is actually an enlarged tooth and can grow to 10 feet long.
Narwhals live in the Arctic waters of Greenland, Russia, Norway, and Canada.
Rhinos are herbivores, but Narwhals are carnivores and eat shrimp, fish, and squid.
Narwhals give birth to a single calf just like rhinos, and also have a long gestation of around 13 to 16 months.
Although the adults are a mottled gray color, narwhals change color throughout their life. Newborns are blue-gray and older narwhals are almost all white.
7. Hippopotamus (Hippo)
Scientific name: Hippopotamus amphibius
Quick summary: A large, African semi-aquatic mammal.
A hippo is a large, semi-aquatic mammal found in Africa. Their stocky, round body shape is similar to a rhino and they have similar thick, gray skin.
Hippos and rhinos grow to similar lengths and heights. Hippos are the world’s third biggest land animal after elephants and rhinos and usually weigh around 3.5 tons.
Rhinos and hippos are both herbivores and have a large appetite.
Hippos don’t have a horn on their snout as rhinos do. Their most distinctive feature is that their nostrils, eyes, and ears are located on the top of their head.
Although Asian species of rhinos are surprisingly good swimmers, they are not semi-aquatic animals like hippos. Hippo spends an average of 16 hours a day in the water.
8. Rhino Viper
Scientific name: Bitis nasicornis
Quick summary: A viper with horn-like protrusions.
A rhino viper is a snake with a horn-like scale on the tip of its nose which looks similar to a rhino’s horn.
Also known as a river jack or butterfly viper, they are found in the tropical forests and wetlands of Central and West Africa. These unusual snakes usually grow to around 3-4 feet, but have been known to grow as large as 7 feet.
Despite their horned appearance, rhino vipers are not related to rhinos. Rhino vipers belong to the Bitis genus, which contains different species of venomous snakes.
Rhino vipers have a very different diet from the herbivorous rhino, feeding upon rodents, fish, and frogs.
9. Rhinoceros Beetle
Scientific name: Dynastinae
Quick summary: A beetle with a horn-like projection similar to a rhino’s horn.
Rhinoceros beetles are insects with a horn-like projection which gives them the appearance of a rhino. The horn is only found on and around the head of the male insects.
These fascinating insects are found all over the world apart from Antarctica.
Although rhinoceros beetles are tiny compared to their large namesake, they are some of the largest beetles in the world and can grow up to six inches.
Like rhinos, these beetles are strong and powerful animals. Rhinoceros beetles can lift objects more than 30 times their own weight.
Rhinoceros beetles are herbivores like rhinos. They feed on sap, fruit, and nectar.
10. Rhinoceros Chameleon
Scientific name: Furcifer rhinoceratus
Quick summary: A chameleon with a prominent nose like a rhino horn.
Rhino chameleons are a species of chameleon only found in Madagascar’s dry forests. These unusual animals get their name from their prominent nose which resembles a rhino’s horn.
Rhinoceros chameleons are tiny compared to rhinos, only measuring around 11 inches long. They are generally gray in color like a rhino, but can also be light brown.
Rhinos are herbivores but these small chameleons eat insects, using their tongues to catch their prey at great speed.
These beautiful chameleons are endangered just like rhinos.
The forests where they live are being logged to make way for charcoal manufacturing and cattle grazing and they are listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Rhinos are one of the most unique animals on our planet. The great one-horned rhino is the only land animal with a single horn.
Although their single horn makes them unique, there are a number of animals that share some similarities with rhinos.
Rhinos belong to a biological group called odd-toed ungulates or perissodactyla. Their closest living relatives belong to this group and include tapirs, horses, and zebras. All animals in this group have an uneven number of toes on their hind feet and are typically herbivores.
Other large African animals share some similarities with rhinos including elephants and hippos, even though they are not closely related.
There are some unusual animals around the world that have a horned appearance similar to rhinos, including rhino vipers, rhinoceros chameleons, and narwhals.