Sumatran Rhinoceros

Dicerorhinus Sumatrensis

Last updated: April 29, 2021
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Bruce1ee - Public Domain

The smallest species of rhino!


Sumatran Rhinoceros Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Dicerorhinus Sumatrensis

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Sumatran Rhinoceros Conservation Status

Sumatran Rhinoceros Locations

Sumatran Rhinoceros Locations

Sumatran Rhinoceros Facts

Main Prey
Grass, Fruit, Berries, Leaves
Tropical bushland, grassland and savannas
Human, Wild cats
Average Litter Size
  • Solitary
Favorite Food
The smallest species of rhino!

Sumatran Rhinoceros Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Black
Skin Type
Top Speed
30 mph
30-45 years
500kg - 800kg (1,100lbs - 1,760lbs)
2m - 2.5m (6.6ft - 8.2ft)

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The last ‘prehistoric’ rhino is now one of the world’s most endangered species 

The Sumatran rhinoceros is the last “hairy” rhinoceros left on Earth. The smallest species of rhinoceros, the Sumatran rhino may very well be the most endangered large mammal in the world today.

Incredible Sumatran Rhino Facts!

  • The Sumatran rhino is believed to be the closest living relative to Wooly rhinos that were covered in fur and went extinct 8,000 years ago.
  • The Sumatran rhino may be the most endangered large mammal in the world, with potentially as few as 30 individuals remaining
  • Among rhinos, the Sumatran is by far the smallest species surviving today. On average, Sumatran rhinos weight just ¼ the size of white rhinos!

Sumatran Rhino Scientific Name

The scientific name of the Sumatran rhinoceros is Dicerorhinus sumatrensis. The genus Dicerorhinus is Greek for “two horns”, although the Sumatran rhinoceros is the last living species of this genus.

Samatrensis means “of Sumatra” as the species was first located on the island (though its original range stretched far beyond Sumatra).

Sumatran Rhino Appearance

The Sumatran rhinoceros is the smallest of the five rhinoceros species with a body length of less than 250cm (about 8.2 feet). At their shoulders, a Sumatran rhino is approximately 150 cm (5 feet) in height.

The smallest of all rhino species, Sumatran rhinos weigh between 500-800 kg (1,100 lbs – 1,760 lbs). It is unique among rhino species in that it has a reddish-hair that can cover a large portion of its body.

The Sumatran rhinoceros has relatively poor eyesight, relying more on hearing and smell to detect what is going on around them. The ears of the Sumatran rhinoceros possess a relatively wide rotational range to detect sounds and an excellent sense of smell to readily alert them to the presence of predators.

Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus Sumatrensis) - standing up

©Light And Dark Studio/

Sumatran Rhino Horn

The Sumatran rhinoceros uses it’s horns for defense, intimidation, digging up roots and breaking branches during feeding. The horns of the Sumatran rhinoceros are made from a substance called keratin and are therefore very strong. The horns of the Sumatran rhinoceros are used in ancient medicine and many Sumatran rhinos have been illegally hunted for them.

Unlike the other Asian rhinoceros species, the Sumatran rhinoceros has two horns like the white and black rhinos found on the African continent. However, its horns are generally much smaller than those species.

While the largest ever recorded Sumatran rhino horn measured 32 inches (81 cm), their horns generally measure less than 10 inches (25 cm) in length. The front horn of Sumatran rhinos is longer, while the back horn is often less than an inch (2.5 cm) in length.

Sumatran Rhino Behavior

The Sumatran rhinoceros is a solitary animal and only comes together with other Sumatran rhinos to mate.

Sumatran rhinos spend long portion of their day in mud wallows they utilize their feet and horns to deepen. Layers of mud not only help protect the Sumatran rhino from biting insects, but also regulate skin temperature. Sumatran rhinos kept in captivity that lacked sufficient daily wallowing suffered from chronic skin problems as a result.

The Sumatran rhino is also very diligent about marking its territory and trails through feces, urine, and even scraping trees. The large territory of each Sumatran rhino (up to 50 square kilometers for males) helps explain why sightings of these animals is so rare.

Sumatran Rhino Habitat

The Sumatran rhinoceros primarily inhabits dense lowland rainforests, tall grass and reed beds that are plentiful with rivers, large floodplains, or wet areas with many mud wallows, swamps and cloud forests. The range of Sumatran rhinoceros once stretched from India, through south-east Asia and down to Sumatra but today, the Sumatran rhinoceros is only found on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

Sumatran Rhino Diet

The Sumatran rhinoceros is a herbivorous animal meaning that it sustains itself on a purely plant-based diet. Sumatran rhinos browse the densely vegetated sub-tropical forest for leaves, flowers, buds, fruits, berries and roots which they dig up from the ground using their horns

Sumatran Rhino Population — How Many Sumatran Rhinos Are Left?

Today, the Sumatran rhino may be the most endangered large mammal on Earth. In 1986, the IUCN estimated there were between 425 and 800 Sumatran rhinos were left. By 2009, the International Rhino Foundation estimated its population had shrunk to as few as 250 individuals.

Today, they estimate fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos are left, and that number could be as low as 30 individuals that live across four fragmented national parks.

While the Sumatran rhino populations today continue decreasing due to loss of habitat and poaching, the species has long been on the brink of extinction. A study from Current Biology estimated that only 700 individuals were left after major climate changes about 9,000 years ago and have struggled to rebound since.

Sumatran Rhino Predators

Due to its large size, the Sumatran rhinoceros’ only real predator in the wild are large wild cats such as tigers that will prey on the Sumatran rhino calves and weak individuals. With the Sumatran Tiger numbering no more than 500 individuals across the island and isolated into small, isolated pockets, its encounters with Sumatran rhinos today are likely rare.

Humans are the biggest threat to the Sumatran rhinoceros as they have been hunted to the brink of extinction for their horns.

Sumatran Rhino Reproduction and Life Cycles

The female Sumatran rhinoceros gives birth to a single calf after a gestation period that is over a year long (approximately 15-16 months). The Sumatran rhinoceros calf remains with its mother until it is at least 2 years old and big enough to become independent.

The longest surviving Sumatran rhino in captivity is estimated to be about 35 years of age, as of 2020. It is believed that in the wild, Sumatran rhinos can live to about 45 years of age.

Sumatran Rhinos in Zoos

In 1984 a program to capture and breed Sumatran rhinos was launched. Unfortunately, of the 46 captured for breeding purposes only five are still alive today, and only four calves were born and survive today. The last Sumatran rhino in the Western hemisphere – 8-year old Harapan – was moved back to Indonesia from the Cincinnati Zoo in 2015.

Sumatran Rhino Facts

  • The most prehistoric rhino
    • The Sumatran rhino is the last surviving member of the Dicerorhinini group which emerged roughly 20 million years ago! It is considered the closest living relative to Wooly rhinos that went extinct approximately 8,000 years ago.


  • Extinct in Malaysia


    • No sightings of the Northern Sumatran rhino, which once lived on mainland Asia have been seen since 2007. In 2019, the Sumatran rhino was declared extinct in Malaysia.


  • Hope in Borneo: The first sighting in 40 years!


    • After more than 40 years without a sighting in Indonesian Borneo, a Sumatran rhino was captured and relocated for protective and breeding purposes. The rare sighting shows how remote of locations Sumatran rhinos live in. However, it’s still unclear if a viable breeding population survives on the island.


  • Just ¼ the size of the white rhino!


    • As the largest of the rhino species, the White rhino can weigh up to 7,920 lbs (3,600 kg). By comparison, Sumatran rhinos weigh up to 1,760 lbs (800 kg), or only about a quarter the weight! It is believed the Northern Sumatran rhino that once roamed from India to Malaysia was larger, but with it believed to be extinct, only the smaller subspecies of Sumatran rhinos surviving in Indonesia remain today.



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Sumatran Rhinoceros FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Why are Sumatran rhinos hairy?

The Sumatran rhino is the last member of a group of hairy rhinos. The hair provides an additional benefit of helping cake mud to the rhinos body, which protects it from insects and helps cool its body.

How many Sumatran rhinos are left?

Official estimates place the surviving Sumatran rhino population at fewer than 80. However, its believed as few as 30 Sumatran rhinos may be left today.

Are the Sumatran rhinos extinct?

No. the species was declared extinct in Malaysia in 2019 and the Northern Sumatran rhinoceros, a subspecies, is believed to be extinct. The greatest challenge to the Sumatran rhino today is its remaining population is spread out across four national parks that are remote from one another. In addition, feels that don’t breed at a young age tend to suffer from tumors on their reproductive organs that further reduces the breeding population.

Are Sumatran Rhinoceroses herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Sumatran Rhinoceroses are Herbivores, meaning they eat plants.

What Kingdom do Sumatran Rhinoceroses belong to?

Sumatran Rhinoceroses belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What phylum do Sumatran Rhinoceroses belong to?

Sumatran Rhinoceroses belong to the phylum Chordata.

What class do Sumatran Rhinoceroses belong to?

Sumatran Rhinoceroses belong to the class Mammalia.

What family do Sumatran Rhinoceroses belong to?

Sumatran Rhinoceroses belong to the family Rhinocerotidae.

What order do Sumatran Rhinoceroses belong to?

Sumatran Rhinoceroses belong to the order Perissodactyla.

What genus do Sumatran Rhinoceroses belong to?

Sumatran Rhinoceroses belong to the genus Dicerorhinus.

What type of covering do Sumatran Rhinoceroses have?

Sumatran Rhinoceroses are covered in Leathery skin.

In what type of habitat do Sumatran Rhinoceroses live?

Sumatran Rhinoceroses live in tropical bushland, grasslands, and savannas.

What do Sumatran Rhinoceroses eat?

Sumatran Rhinoceroses eat grass, fruit, berries, and leaves.

What are some predators of Sumatran Rhinoceroses?

Predators of Sumatran Rhinoceroses include humans and wild cats.

How many babies do Sumatran Rhinoceroses have?

The average number of babies a Sumatran Rhinoceros has is 1.

What is an interesting fact about Sumatran Rhinoceroses?

The Sumatran Rhinoceroses is the smallest species of rhino!

What is the scientific name for the Sumatran Rhinoceros?

The scientific name for the Sumatran Rhinoceros is Dicerorhinus Sumatrensis.

What is the lifespan of a Sumatran Rhinoceros?

Sumatran Rhinoceroses can live for 30 to 45 years.

How fast is a Sumatran Rhinoceros?

A Sumatran Rhinoceros can travel at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

  1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animal, The Definitive Visual Guide To The World's Wildlife
  2. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals
  3. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia
  4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species
  5. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals
  6. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals
  7. David W. Macdonald, Oxford University Press (2010) The Encyclopedia Of Mammals

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