Black and White Rhinos: What's the Difference?


When you go on an African safari, you can see countless animal species on your trip, but two of the most interesting are the black and white rhinos. Because both creatures have three horns, it can be easy to confuse the two, but there are actually some big differences between these species that you may find interesting. Learning how to tell these two rhino species apart will help you make sure you see each on your trip. Learn the differences between the white and black rhinos before you book an African safari so that you’ll be ready for your vacation.

Rhino Sizes
Although there are several important differences between the white and black rhino, the easiest to spot for non-zoologists is their size. White rhinos are the second largest rhino species in the world, trailing slightly behind the greater one-horn rhino. A male white rhino can grow up to six feet tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 5,100 pounds, and the females of the species can weigh up to 3,700 pounds and stand five feet eight inches at the shoulder. Males can be 13 feet long and females 12 feet long.

Black rhinos are smaller than their white counterparts in terms of weight. An adult black rhino, male or female, can weigh up to 3,100 pounds. Black rhinos can be as tall as six feet and up to twelve feet long, just like white rhinos.

Lip Shape
Besides weight, the primary difference between these two rhino species is the shape of their lips, which impacts how they feed. Learning these two lip shapes will make it easier to identify each species on your safari.

The pointed upper lip of the black rhino means this species eats by browsing, much like elephants. The black rhino uses the shape of its lip to grab leaves from bushes and trees, which is similar to how an elephant uses its trunk. So, if you see a rhino eating from a tree, it’s a black rhinoceros.

White rhinos, on the other hand, have an upper lip that is square shaped, which causes them to graze for their food. These rhinos get their food close to the ground, and use their square lip to cut grass for consumption. If you’ve ever seen a cow grazing in a field, you have some idea of what it looks like when a white rhino eats.

Group Behavior
Another way to identify these two rhinos is whether they travel alone or in a group. Black rhinos prefer solitude and will generally travel on their own. The only exception is whether it’s a female black rhino and her offspring. You will usually see white rhinos in a group. If you’re on your African safari and see a rhino on its own, it is likely a black rhino. If you see a group of rhinos in the same area, then you’re looking at white rhinos.

Rhinos are some of the most interesting animals in the world, and the best way to see these creatures is on a safari.
Book your African safari today so that you can see both black and white rhinos in the wild.