PHYSICAL APPEARANCE - SUMATRAN RHINO

The Sumatran Rhinoceros is the smallest of the five remaining rhino species alive today. As its scientific name, Dicerorhinus sumatrensis, implies, this rhinoceros has two horns (“di”) instead of one. However, more characteristic than its size or horn-status is one particularly noticeable feature of this rhino its body is hairy.

This gives the small specimen an appearance of being shaggy, even soft, as opposed to the prehistoric toughness of its close relatives. The hair is long and coarse, and covers skin that has a particularly red undertone to it. The younger the rhino, the more hair it is likely to have. Older rhinos may have very little, if any, hair left on their bodies.

The Sumatran Rhinoceros may be the smallest of all the rhinos, but it remains a large animal. The length of the body and head (excluding the tail) averages 2.4 to 3.2 metres (which is equivalent to between 7.7 and 10.4 feet) long. At shoulder height, the Sumatran Rhino is approximately 1.3 metres (or around four feet) high. It weighs anything between 500 and 1 000 kilograms, or about 1 100 to 2 200 pounds. This smaller stature is one of the major contributing factors to the Sumatran Rhino’s being fast and agile.


Sumatran Rhinoceros in Malacca Zoo.

The bigger of their two horns (the anterior horn) will reach an average length of about 20 centimetres (or almost eight inches), while the smaller horn behind the large one (the posterior horn) is much smaller and is aptly described as being more of a stub than a formal horn. The male Sumatran Rhinos have larger horns than their female counterparts.

The body is characterised by two folds thick folds of skin;one of which is just behind the front legs and the other is just in front of the hind legs. There is also another, smaller fold around its neck.

Its upper lip is hooked, not flat, which enables it to grasp long grasses, leaves and twigs with ease and dexterity. The Sumatran Rhino is particularly fond of fruit, and needs this lip to permit it to grab hold of fruits of various shapes and sizes.

This rhino has three toes on each foot, and each toe and padding is protected by a thick hoof. This allows the animal to search its natural habitat for food, water and shelter without injuring soft foot pads on twigs, thorns or other tough objects.

The magnificent Sumatran Rhino has been classified as being “Critically Endangered”. This means that it is the responsibility of humans to protect this extremely rare, precious species before it is lost to us forever.

 

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