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What Do Rhinos Eat | Rhinos Diet & Feeding Behavior

The rhinoceros (Rhinocerotidae) is an herbivorous mammal which means that it never hunts for the food because it doesn’t need to. All rhino species seem to rely on vegetable matter including fruits for the consumption. They spend most of the time browsing through the wild habitats while searching out green matter to feed on.

What Do Rhinos Eat in the Wild

Rhino’s Feeding Behavior

Nearly all rhino species are thought be active just before nightfall and early in the morning but they do show slight difference in their feeding preferences.

Sumatran Rhino

The Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is a critically endangered rhino species. Like other rhinos, the Sumatran rhinoceros emerges at dusk and also in the morning.

The rhino is a regular browser and the animal seems to rely on a variety of tropical forest plant life.

Scientists have studied the feeding behavior of Sumatran rhinos and that tells us that rhinos eat in small patches. These patches might be around riversides, or created by some landslides or tree falls.

Sumatran rhinos fancy eating fallen fruits such as wild mangoes or even figs.

The diet includes;

  • Fruits
  • Young saplings,
  • Shoots
  • Leaves
  • Twigs
  • Shrubs
  • Lianas
  • Secondary vegetation
  • Fallen fruits

They will eat up to 50 kg (110 lb) a day. Studies show that Sumatran rhinos feed on 100 species of food. Prominent among the food is tree sapling that covers major portion of the diet.

Sadly enough, these tree saplings are not abundant and thus the scarcity pushes the rhino to feed on different species.

Rhinos are most likely to eat species such as

  1. Euphorbiaceae,
  2. Rubiaceae
  3. Melastomataceae

They also rely on Eugenia.

Sumatran rhinos eat food which offers only a small amount of protein but it is rich in fiber. They generally eat plants that are rich in minerals.

Read More: Sumatran Rhino Facts

what do rhinos eat
Woolly Rhino ©iceagenow.info

Woolly Rhino

The woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) is an extinct rhino species but scientists have studied the dietary preference of the animal. According to studies the woolly rhino might have been a grazer and browser both.

They could have liked to eat

  • Grasses
  • Sedges
  • Forbs including Artemisia, and graminoids
  • Woody twigs
  • Leaves
  • Other low vegetation

Read More: Woolly Rhino Facts

White Rhino

Like most other rhinoceros, white rhinos are herbivore grazers as they mainly feed on low vegetation such as grass. They like to eat some of the shortest grains.

White rhinos will drink couple of times each day but if there is no water they would survive for 4 – 5 days without drinking a drop.

Rhinos tend to spend most part of the day on feeding while they rest one-third of the day. Like other rhinos, white rhinoceros wallow in muddy habitats to lower down their body temperatures.

Scientists believe that white rhinoceros has changed the entire structure of savanna’s grasslands.

Read More: White Rhino Facts

Indian Rhino

The Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is also a grazer. The primary diet is grass but they supplement their diet with some;

Branches of shrubs

  • Aquatic plants
  • Trees
  • Fruits of Trewia nudiflora
  • Leaves
  • Submerged and floating plants

Thanks to the long prehensile tongue with the help of which rhinos can bend the stems down and grasp the grass stems. They are less likely to feed on tall grasses in fact Indian rhinos will step and walk over them instead of eating.

Read More: Indian Rhino Facts

what do rhinos eat
Black Rhinoceros ©myanimalsdiscovery.blogspot.com

Black Rhino

The black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is a browser but it is mostly active in morning and in the afternoon. These two are the peak timings during which the animal remains busy in eating.

They often drink water at night which is why rhinos find habitats near water. Rhinos will consume tips of shrubs, stems, and leaves. They will crop branch tips with the thickness of 0.4 in (10 mm) and the length measuring about 4–9.8 in (100–250 mm).

Black rhinos are known to feed on open grasslands which are mainly abundant in;

  1. Pennisetum mezianum
  2. Setaria sphacelata
  3. Dichrostachys cinerea
  4. Commelina
  5. Commiphora
  6. Maerua edulis
  7. Solanum incanum
  8. Acacia hockii
  9. Becium
  10. Acacia drepanolobium
  11. Croton dichogamus
  12. Acacia brevispica
  13. Grrwiu
  14. Teclea nobilis
  15. Dombeya
  16. Croton dichogantus
  17. Phyllanthus
  18. Indigofera
  19. Maepa edulis
  20. Glycine
  21. Balanites aegyptiaca

The black rhino’s diet consists of young tree (47%), herbs (41%), and the rest 12% include shrubs.

Read More: Black Rhino Facts

Javan Rhino

The Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) feeds on many different plants species. It is thought to consume 50 – 60 kilograms of food a day which means they eat 10% of their weight.

Among all rhino species Javan rhinos are the most adaptable animal. The diet includes;

  • Young foliage
  • Shoots
  • Twigs
  • Fallen fruits
  • Saplings

Read More: Javan Rhino Facts


Waleed Khalid

A professional writer and a passionate wildlife enthusiast, who is mostly found hooked to his laptop or in libraries researching about the wildlife.

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