Baby Rhino: 5 Calf Pictures & 5 Facts

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: October 11, 2021
Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: October 11, 2021

Rhinos grow up to become the second largest land animals after elephants, but they’re born as adorable calves. Let’s look at five incredible baby rhino facts – all with pictures of course! – and discover what makes rhino calves so unique!

1. Baby Rhinos have a Gestation Period Almost Twice the Length of Humans!

Rhino Baby - A calf exploring a turtle
A rhino calf sniffing a turle

Humans have a gestation period – the time it takes from conception to when a baby is born – of about nine months. For a rhino, the gestation period is 15 to 16 months! Female rhinos will wait between 2 and 3 years before giving birth to another calf.

2. Rhino Babies Can Weigh the Same Size as a Full-grown Adult!

Rhino baby - a female rhino with her calf
A female rhino with her calf

On July 29, 2019, a rhino baby was born in the San Diego Zoo Safari that weighed 148 pounds just two days after birth! The baby, named Edward, already weighed 220 pounds by mid-August. That is to say, baby rhinos can weigh the same amount as humans just days (or weeks) after their birth!

3. Baby Rhinos have a Defense Against Attacks!

Rhino baby - an Indian rhino calf
Mother Rhino looking after her new born baby

While baby rhinos often weigh more than 100 pounds upon birth, that’s still a relatively small meal for predators like lions and tigers that live in the range of different rhino species. Thankfully for baby rhinos, they have a unique defense against would-be predators like lion, tigers, and leopards!

The skin of a rhino can be up to two inches thick, giving them a form of “armor plating” against predators like big cats! Baby rhinos are born with thick skin which helps defend them as they rapidly grow in the weeks and months after their birth. Still, predators will attack juvenile rhinos, attacks from prides of lions have been recorded on rhinos that weigh more than 2,000 pounds.

4. Baby Rhinos Take a Couple Days to Walk

Rhino baby - running calf
A white rhino calf running

A rhino calf won’t be able to immediately become mobile like many other species of mammals, instead it took a calf two-to-three days to become steady on their legs. During this time, it’s up to their mom to take care of them! Male rhinos leave shortly after mating. Female rhinos are fiercely protective of their young during this period.

5. Baby Rhinos are on the Rebound!

Rhino baby - A white rhino mother and her calf
White rhino populations have rebounded from 100 to more than 20,000

The population of white rhinos has rebounded steadily over the past 30 years. For example, while their population may have dipped as low as 50 to 100 in the wild, today it’s estimated there are around 20,000 white rhinos.

(Unfortunately, the northern white rhino population is now functionally extinct, as most the rebound has been in South Africa.)

White rhino breeding has been a success story in zoos across America. For example, the Virginia Zoo welcomed its first birth of a white rhino in July 2021. Earlier that same month, ZooTampa welcomed its own white rhino birth.

Several zoos and the world and the United States have successful white rhino breeding programs. The San Diego Zoo has placed particular emphasis on breeding white rhinos. The most recent birth at the San Diego Zoo came on August 22, 2021.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is a baby rhino called?

A baby rhino is named a calf, which is similar to other ungulates such as hippos and elephants. Another famous “calf” is from cows, which once again are an ungulate!

How big is a baby rhino?

Calves of rhinoceros species can weigh between 70 and 150 pounds. Remember that there are five different species of rhinos, with varying weights and physical descriptions. The smallest rhinoceros species are the Sumatran and Javan rhinoceros. Black rhinoceros calves weigh between 80 and 110 pounds.

For example, a black rhino born in Des Moines’ Blank Park Zoo weighed 80 pounds when born in 2016. Finally, white and Indian rhinos have the largest offspring which can range between 140 and 150 pounds at their largest weights.

How long do baby rhinos nurse?

Weaning in rhinos begins at two months, but may continue up until they’re nearly a year old.