Rhinoceros Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Do you know anything about rhinoceroses? Well, by the end of this lesson, we'll have explored what a rhinoceros is, how they live and what they eat. You'll also learn some other cool facts about them.

What Is a Rhinoceros?

Imagine you are in Africa, in the grasslands. You look up and see a huge, grayish, horned animal. Its ears perk up and it's looking right at you! It may look slow and cute, but don't be tricked! These animals are fast and fierce when they are threatened! You have just met a rhinoceros! A rhinoceros is a large, heavy animal with short legs, thick skin and one or two horns on its nose.


A rhinoceros' skin can be gray or brown and doesn't have much hair. It is very thick and looks tough, but it can sunburn just like yours! Since they can't go to the store and buy a bottle of sunscreen, they roll in the mud. The mud protects them from sunburns and bug bites, and it feels nice and cool, like jumping into a pool on a hot summer day!

Rhinoceros Rolling in the Mud
Rhinoceros Rolling in the Mud

A rhinoceros has three big toes on each foot. Each toe has a hoof, which is really a very large toenail. They are in the same group as zebras and horses, who also have hooves, though they only have one on each foot.

Rhinoceroses can't see well but they have a great sense of hearing and smell. Their ears can even swivel in opposite directions at the same time to help them hear what is going on around them.

After the African elephant, the rhinoceros is considered the second largest mammal that lives on land. A mammal is a warm-blooded animal that has a backbone, hair or fur, and makes milk for its babies.

The smallest type of rhinoceros weighs about 1,700 pounds, and the largest weighs around 7,000 pounds and is over six feet tall! In the wild, they can live to be up to 35 years old.

Where Do Rhinoceroses Live?

There are five kinds of rhinoceroses in the world, and they live on the continents of Africa and Asia. They are found in grasslands and floodplains in Africa and swamps and tropical forests in Asia.

All rhinoceroses are herbivores, only eating plants. They eat things like roots, grasses, fruits, leaves and bushes.

Rhinoceros Eating Grass
Rhinoceros Eating Grass

They munch on plants almost all day, except when it's very hot. Even those mud baths can't keep them cool in extreme heat, so they rest until they cool off.

How Do Rhinoceroses Defend Themselves?

Depending on the type of rhinoceros, their horns can grow anywhere between 10 to 51 inches long! Interestingly, the thick horns on their nose are made of the same material that your hair and fingernails are made of!

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