Body Size

Adult Black rhinos have a body length of around 300 – 375 cm, and a height to the shoulder of approximately 80 – 140 cm. The weight of an adult Black rhino ranges between 800 and 1400 kg. Adult males are usually larger than females. The anterior horn is larger than the posterior horn; averaging about 50 cm in length. Sometimes the beginning of a third horn is present. The horns also differ between the sexes, with males tending to have chunkier horns and the females often longer and thinner ones. The longest recorded horn is 135.9 cm.

General Description

The Black rhino’s skin colour varies between pale grey to dark brown to dark grey and is greatly influenced by the colour of the local mud in which it wallows. An external feature which more clearly distinguishes the Black rhino from the white rhino is the protruding prehensile upper lip.

Photograph of the upper jaw of a rhino skull.

Photograph of the upper jaw of a Black rhino skull.

The dental formula of the Black rhino is; incisors: 0/0, canines: 0/0, pre-molars: 3/3 and molars 3/3 with a total of 24 teeth (Nowak, 1999).

Black rhinos have three toes with three stout nails, which leave impressions on the ground to the front and side of a softer wrinkled sole. The front feet are larger than the back feet.

Photo of rhino skull from right side

Photograph of the right hand side of a Black rhino skull.

Black rhinos have two horns, which grow continually from the skin at their base throughout their life. The horn is continually worn away by rubbing. Each rhino develops its own rubbing habits and horn-wear patterns. Rhinos from different areas can have horns of different shapes.

A Black rhino’s sense of hearing is excellent, as is their sense of smell. These compensate for their poor eyesight which cannot easily detect an observer standing more than 30 m away. They can however detect movement at short distances.


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