Rhino Adaptations: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: April Inocente
Looking more like dinosaurs than modern animals, rhinos are large, in charge, and don't like to be messed with! Read about these incredible animals and how they have adapted to survive.

Black and White Rhinos

If I asked you to name a black animal or white animal, or an animal that is both black and white, it is easy to do. You might say a black panther, a polar bear, a panda, or a zebra. But, if you named the black rhino or the white rhino, you would be wrong. In fact, they are both grey! The main difference between these two rhinos is their mouth shape. The white rhino has a wide, square mouth and the black rhino has a smaller, hook-shaped mouth.

In any case, both types of rhinos have adaptations, characteristics that have developed over time that help the creature survive. Let's take a look at some of the rhino's physical and behavioral adaptations.

Physical Adaptations

The hot sun, vast open grasslands, and dangerous predators everywhere don't make the rhino's environment, Africa, an easy place to survive. But these giants were made for it!

They have natural armor. Not the kind of armor that brave knights wear. We are talking about thick, tough, grey skin covering their huge bodies. Plus, they have big, thickly padded feet! These guys walk through brush and sticks, thick grass, stabbing thorns, and other hazards, and they don't even flinch.

Rhino eating grass
Rhino eating grass

To protect this important skin armor, rhinos lay under the shade of trees or roll in mud pits to keep cool. They cover their skin in mud for protection against bugs and the blazing sun. Sunburns are unpleasant to people and rhinos alike!

Remember those dangerous predators mentioned earlier? Rhinos have special adaptations for dealing with them. First, they have an excellent sense of smell, which allows them to smell anything getting too close. Second, to make up for their bad eyesight, they have amazing hearing with ears that can rotate around to take in sounds from all directions.

Last but not least, their most important defense is the rhino's set of 2 signature horns on the top of its head. Aggressive males will battle attackers with these horns, and females are not afraid to use them to defend their young.

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