White Rhinoceros (Square-Lipped)

White Rhinoceros is also known as square-lipped Rhinoceros and it is the largest species of the rhinoceros’ family. It is larger than the black Rhinoceros and the most social of all Rhinoceros species. It has a wide mouth used for grazing.

White Rhinoceros has two species, the southern white Rhinoceros from South Africa and the northern white Rhinoceros from east Africa. The name white when translated to the Dutch dictionary means ‘wild’ meaning ‘wide’ and this corresponds to the width of its mouth.

Description of the White Rhinoceros (Square-Lipped)

White Rhinoceros is the second largest mammal behind the three extant species of elephant alive today. The color is grey or taking the color of dust and mud.

It has a massive body and large head, a short neck, and a broad chest with a large distinctive hump on its neck with a distinctive broad, straight mouth which is used for grazing. An adult male can weigh up to 2,300 and an adult female can go for up to 1,700 kg.

White Rhinoceros has two horns on its snout it has two horns, one behind the other and the horns are not of the same size with pointed large ears which can move independently to pick up sounds from all directions but this habit depends mostly on the sense of smell and the four stumpy feet has three toes each.

  • Habitat

White rhinoceroses show a preference for areas of short grassland and savannah with access to thick bushes for shade and water sources of water for drinking and wallowing. Most favored habitats are ones with mixed grass-open woodland associations.


White rhinoceroses live in families of over 14 animals’ cows being many with territorial bull and subordinate bulls. Bulls are solitary while dominant bulls mark and defend their territories with urine, dung, wiping their horns on bushes, and several patrols to alert passing bulls that it is a no-go zone but other rival bulls may be welcomed if they don’t show violent behaviors. Brutal fights break out, particularly when a bull is in company with a mating partner.

Most feeding takes place during morning and evening hours. Like any other species of rhinoceros, the white rhinoceros love wallowing in mud holes to cool down.

Sounds like panting contact calls, grunts and snorts during courtship, squeals of distress, and deep bellows or growls when threatened are all used as modes of communication by white Rhinoceros.

When threatened, bull white Rhinoceros display behaviors of wiping horns on the ground and head-low posture with ears back and snarl threats and shrieking and they are quick and agile, they can run 40 km/h when under stress.

They have good smelling and hearing but with poor eyesight.

  • Reproduction

A single calf is dropped after a gestation period of 480 days. When labor pain begins, the cow isolates herself from the family to give birth for several days and it happens at any time of the year. A calf remains with the mother for 2-3 years and suckling stops at 1 year.

Cows reach sexual maturity at 6–7 years while bulls 10 -12 years. A bull and a cow form a breeding pair staying together only for 5–20 days before they separate.

Adult white rhinos have no natural predators due to their size. However, calves are rarely attacked or preyed on by lions and sometimes crocodiles.

  • Food/diet

White Rhinoceroses are purely grazers that eat grass especially the shortest grains and they are one of the largest pure grazers. It drinks twice a day if the water is available, but if conditions are dry it can go for 4-5 days without water.

White Rhinoceros

White Rhino in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

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