How Do Rhinos Mate?

August 10, 2023

Rhinos are big, hulking mammals and like all large mammals they’re not too shy about getting down to business. If a male feels challenged for dominance by another stud or if he smells a female in heat he’s going to make a go of things. He’s not just expressing his testosterone he’s also protecting his territory and the females that are inside it. This can involve a lot of posturing and some very short but very serious horn to horn fights.

A territorial male will start marking his land by spraying dung and urine around. This signals to other rhinos that he’s claimed the area and that any reproductive cows within it are his. He’ll then follow up by scent-marking the females that have caught his attention, crooning and mock charging their suitors in an attempt to get them to accept his advances. When he does succeed in securing the attention of a receptive female she’ll rest her rump on his horn to acknowledge his courtship. This rump-resting is the precursor to romping which involves a whole lot of awkward probing before the two rhinos can merge into a hefty grey embrace for several minutes.

It’s important to remember that these rhinos are all armed with huge, intimidating horns and adolescent males can get seriously hurt during the battle to establish dominance and secure breeding rights to a female. This is why the removal of horns from these animals is so controversial. It’s a huge price to pay for the survival of a species that adapted its horns in the Pleistocene to successfully defend its habitat against predators.


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