By Amelia Meyer
All of the different species of rhino comprising the Indian, Sumatran, Javan, White and Black rhinos are herbivores. This means that they only eat vegetation, and will never eat any form of meat.
They do not, therefore, need to hunt for their food, but will spend most of their time browsing and / or grazing through their natural habitat in search of plants and grasses to eat.
The specific types of food that each of the species favour depend very much on the immediate environment of the animals and the types of plants available therein.
In terms of the plants that they eat, rhinoceroses are not particularly fussy. They are known to eat a wide variety of different fruits, stems, twigs, grasses and leaves.
The Sumatran Rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis)
Sumatran Rhinos are opportunistic feeders, meaning that they will seize any opportunities to feed, as and when they arise. This makes their diet particularly varied, since they will eat what is available at almost any given time. Since they live in a more tropical environment than most of the other species, the Sumatran Rhinos enjoy the leaves and fruit of this type of foliage.
The Javan Rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus)
The Javan Rhino is a browser that prefers lowlands and bodies of water. As such, their diet consists of new shoots;young, moist foliage;twigs and fruit that has fallen from the tree or shrub. Their diet is, therefore, quite diverse.
The Indian Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis)
Indian Rhinoceroses tend to graze on grasses, rather than browse for vegetation that is situated higher up from the ground (twigs and fruit, for example). Notably, the Indian Rhino favours wetlands and spends plenty of time in the cool water. Therefore, it will also feed on aquatic plants, which are usually succulent and juicy.
The White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum)
The White Rhino is distinctive for its flat, wide upper lip. This is an integral part of its feeding adaptation, since it enables the animal to graze on grasses, even when they are fairly short. This upper lip allows it to get low down to the ground and pull the grass out with ease. As such, the White Rhino is a pure grazer.
The Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis)
This rhino species has a very distinct hooked upper lip, which helps it to pull the leaves off of twigs and branches, effectively stripping the wood completely. They are also known to dine on succulents and tasty herbs that they can pull out by hooking their upper lips around the plant and tugging. During the wet seasons, when plants are lusher, the Black Rhino has been shown to eat the entire plant, rather than just the leaves and fruits. The Black Rhino is known to eat more than 200 different plant species. Unlike their White Rhino counterparts, they do not eat much grass at all.
Rhinos will drink water several times a day, if it is readily available to them. However, in areas in which water is not as readily available, the rhino can last for several days without it, surviving off the moisture from the vegetation it consumes.