how rhino horn grows

Rhino horn is made of keratin, the same substance as human hair and fingernails and other animal’s claws and hooves. Calves are born without horns, but within just a couple of months a tiny stub appears – from then on, the sky’s the limit!

WHITE RHINO

approx 6 MONTHS

A calf’s front horn becomes visible
between one and two months old. The horn grows most quickly in the first year. Thereafter the growth rate slows down.

APPROX 3 YEARS

The rhino’s back horn is visible from around a year old and its front horn has lengthened and started to curve. A female’s front horn is typically more slender than a male’s.

APPROX 7 YEARS +

An adult white rhino has the longest front horn of any rhino species in the world. The front horn of an adult white rhino averages 90cm (35in) in length and can reach 150cm (59in). 


DID YOU KNOW? 

With optimal nutrition, rhino horns can grow continuously by about 40-60mm each year. In Botswana, however, the growth rate is expected to be slower due to the lower nutrient levels in vegetation that grows on Kalahari sands. 


BLACK RHINO

APPROX 1 year

A calf’s front horn becomes visible
between one and two months old. Its
back horn becomes visible by about three months.  By 12 months, its back horn is still quite flat but the front horn may have a slight curve.

APPROX 3.5 years

Up to 3.5 years old, a calf is still dependent on its mother. Its back horn is now a more evenly shaped triangle. The front horn has lengthened and widened at the base.

APPROX 7 YEARS +

On a mature rhino of seven years or more, the front horn has lengthened and curved, and may show signs of wear. The back horn often becomes more pointed, curved and/or chunky.

Reproduced courtesy of Keryn Adcock, African Rhino Specialist Group


DID YOU KNOW?

White rhino horns are larger and heavier than black rhino horns. Horns are used as weapons against predators and help mother rhinos to keep their calves safe. They may also be used during encounters with other rhinos to demonstrate dominance or make a threat display.



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