Information about: Rhinoceros

Index | Rhinoceros

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Rhinoceros. The name of a family of mammals, represented by five living species, characteristic of Africa to the south of the Sahara, India, Borneo, and Java. They have large unwieldy bodies, short thick legs, terminating in large pads, with hoof-bearing toes; large elongated heads, with a long; horn or horns springing from the snout in existing forms; small eyes and ears; and short tails. The hide is extremely thick, but is not bullet-proof, as is popularly supposed. The Asiatic species differ from the African in some dental characters, but resemble the latter in other respects. Two species belong to Africa, both possessing two horns. Of these, the white rhinoceros is the larger, attaining a length of over twelve feet and a height of nearly six feet; but the black or common rhinoceros is the best known species. The Asiatic species are three in number, distinguished by the possession of incisors, or front teeth, which are entirely absent in the African ones, and the hide has much the appearane of armor plates. They are also smaller in size; two of the species possess single horns, and one a double horn. The Indian rhinoceros, one-horned species, is the one usually seen in menageries in this country. It leads a tranquil, indolent life, wallowing on the marshy borders of lakes and rivers. Owing to the keenness of its smell and hearing, the rhinoceros can not be easily attacked; but, when brought to bay, it charges with great fury and impetuosity.