Do Rhinos Eat Meat? (How Do They Grow So Big?)

As you probably know, some animals eat meat, some eat plants, and some eat a combination of both. Animals that eat meat are known as carnivores. Animals that eat plants are known as herbivores. And animals that eat both meat and plants are omnivores. So, where do rhinos fit in this? 

Do rhinos eat meat? 

As a general rule, rhinos don’t eat meat. There are five different types of rhinos (the Indian rhino, the Sumatran rhino, the Javan rhino, the white rhino, and the black rhino), and every single one of these rhinos is a herbivore. This means that rhinos only eat plant matter and never eat meat. 

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What do rhinos eat?

Rhinos are not particularly fussy eaters, and they eat a wide variety of plant life, but the specific type of food that they eat is in response to their native habitat and environment. 

The Indian rhino, which is also known as the greater one-horned rhino, is found in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. These rhinos enjoy eating aquatic plants, and they prefer eating tall, reedy grasses as opposed to the shorter grasses that some other rhinos like. They will also eat leaves, fruits, and thin tree branches. 

Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) in Chitwan National Park
Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) in Chitwan National Park

The Sumatran rhino is the smallest rhino subspecies and they are found in parts of Indonesia. This rhino really enjoys eating fruits such as wild mangoes and figs. They will also eat leaves, twigs, and bark, and sometimes this rhino will even venture into farmland in order to snack on crops. 

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The Javan rhino can be found in parts of Indonesia, India, and China. They use their strong mouths to knock down tree saplings and grab food with their upper lip. Their main sources of food include twigs, shoots, foliage, and fallen fruit.  

The white rhino can only be found in southern African countries, such as Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Unlike other rhinos, they will not normally eat fruit or leaves- instead, they eat a diet made up almost entirely of short grass. 

The black rhinos live in Africa like the white rhino, but they are smaller of the two subspecies. Black rhinos are also not as picky eaters as white rhinos. They enjoy eating leafy plants, branches, plant shoots, tough wood bushes, and fruits.  

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How much food do rhinos need to eat every day? 

White Rhino
White Rhino

Rhinos are very large animals. The largest rhino is the white rhino. This rhino can grow to be up to 13 feet long and stand 6 feet tall. And on average white rhinos usually weigh about 5,000 pounds! Even the smallest rhino subspecies, the Sumatran rhino, is hardly considered “small”. They can grow to be about 10 feet long and they usually stand at around 5 feet tall. These rhinos weigh about 1,765 pounds on average.  

If these animals are so big, and they only eat vegetation like grasses and leaves, they must have to eat a lot every day, right? You can say that again! 

On average, White rhinos, who eat almost only grass, need to eat 120 pounds of grass every day in order to sustain themselves!

Rhinos also drink a lot – they will drink whenever they find water, but they can also go up to 5 days without it.  

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Do any of a rhino’s relatives eat meat? 

Tapir, horse, and rhino
Tapir, horse, and rhino – relatives

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Many people think that rhinos are related to elephants because they have a similar armored appearance and have horns. But believe it or not, they are not related at all! Instead, rhinos are closely related to horses and tapirs. What makes these animals related is that all of these animals bear most of their weight on their center toes. So do horses or tapirs eat meat or are they herbivores too? 

Like their rhino cousins, horses eat a diet of only plants. Horses eat a lot of grass and hay, but they will sometimes eat fruits or vegetables to help enhance their diet. Horses have a long and sensitive digestive tract, and they are not able to digest meat. 

Even though tapirs look a bit like pigs, they actually belong to the same family as rhinos and horses. And like rhinos and horses, they are also herbivores. These animals like to eat grasses, seeds, fruits, and low-lying leaves.