Stag Beetle vs. Rhino Beetle: What Are The Differences?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: October 24, 2022
© Mark Brandon/
Share this post on:


Beetles are some of the most numerous and common insects in the world. While some of them may look alike, they have their fair share of differences. If you see a beetle with a large structure on its head, it could be a stag beetle or a rhino beetle. What are the differences, though? That’s what we’re going to show you as we consider the stag beetle vs. rhino beetle.

Today, you’ll learn several ways that these creatures are special and a few ways that they are similar.

Comparing a Stag Beetle and a Rhino Beetle

The major differences between stag and rhino beetles are size and morphology.
Stag BeetleRhino Beetle
SizeWeight: up to 0.15 ounces or slightly more
Length: 1-5 inches, but most of them average 2 inches in length
Weight: 0.2-1.2 ounces with an upper limit of 8 ounces
Length: 0.5-3 inches, but they can reach 7 inches in the largest species
Morphology– Known for their large mandibles that they use to fight other beetles for resources
– Females have smaller mandibles, and they can generate more power
– Wide, segmented body, two pairs of wings
– Most often brown or black, but they can be red or green as well  
– Rhino beetles generally have horn structures used to attack other males
– The Hercules beetle and Japanese rhinoceros beetle have large horns
– Most are yellow, green, black, and gray
– Cylindrical body
– Possess a hard exoskeleton
– Typically have chitinous forewings and membranous hindwings
Diet– Herbivorous
– Consume rotten wood in their larva stage and their adult stage
– Also consume decayed fruit and sap as adults
– Most rhino beetles are herbivorous
– The beetles eat rotten wood when they’re young.
– Adults eat tree sap, some fruit, and nectar
Species– Lucanidae family
– Aesalinae, Lampriminae, Lucaninae, and Syndesinae subfamilies
– Roughly 1,200 species around the world
– Stem from the Dynastinae subfamily of Scarabaeidae
– They are related to the scarab family
– 225 genera and 1,500 species of rhinoceros beetles exist
Range and Habitat– Found throughout the world
– Notable species are found in the U.S., Europe, and Southern Asia
– Can be found in many habitats, but they tend to stay near wooded areas  
– Lives on all continents but Antarctica
– Can be found in wooded habitats, grasslands, and more
– Rhino beetles are popular pets in Asia

The Key Differences Between a Stag Beetle vs Rhino Beetle

The most significant differences between a stag and a rhino beetle can be found in their morphology and size. The largest rhino beetles are larger than the biggest stag beetles. The Hercules beetle measures up to 7 inches in length while the Megasoma actaeon weighs up to 8 ounces.

Only The Top 1% Can Ace our Animal Quizzes

Think You Can?

Meanwhile, the average stag beetle often measures between 1 and 5 inches with 2 inches being the average length, and they weigh up to 0.15 ounces or slightly more in the case of larger species.

Meanwhile, the biggest disparity in their morphology comes from the structures on their heads. The rhino beetle is named for the large horns that many species possess, and they’re used by males to fight off other males. Stag beetles have enlarged mandibles that they use for the same purpose.

Basically, the stag beetle’s mandibles are situated horizontally while the rhino beetles have horns that jut forward from their heads. These are the most obvious differences between the two beetles. Yet, we can go into greater detail about those differences and include others, and that’s exactly what we will do in the following sections.

Stag Beetle vs Rhino Beetle: Size

The Five-horned rhinoceros beetle
Rhino beetles are larger than stag beetles.

©Mark Brandon/

Rhino beetles are larger than stag beetles in most cases. The rhino beetle family includes the Hercules beetle and the Megasoma actaeon, two of the largest beetles in the world by length and weight, respectively. The average rhino beetle weighs between 0.2 and 1.2 ounces compared to the stag beetle’s weight of up to 0.15 ounces.

While the rhino beetle measures between 0.5 and 3 inches in length, it can grow upwards of 7 inches long. The stag beetle can reach lengths of 5 inches with its mandibles, but they average 2 inches in length.  

Stag Beetle vs Rhino Beetle: Morphology

Stag Beetle
Stag beetles use mandibles to fight off other males.

©Czesznak Zsolt/

The stag beetle and rhino beetle are similar in many elements except in the unique structures on their heads. The male stag beetle has enlarged mandibles that it primarily uses to fight off other males that are trying to encroach upon its resources. The stag beetle’s name is derived from these mandibles that are somewhat analogous to stags’ antlers.

Rhino beetles are known for their large horn structures, some of them measuring upwards of 1/3 of their total body size. These horns are also used to fight other males. Some of them curve from the top of the head toward the bottom, and others have a deep curl to them and then curve upwards.

Aside from that, these creatures are mostly similar. They have segmented bodies, four wings, a chitinous exoskeleton, and similar colors. Stag beetles are usually brown or black, but they can also include colors like green and red. Each of those colors is found in the rhino beetle. All told, these beetles have some similarities, but they are still very different due to their respective head structures.

Stag Beetle vs Rhino Beetle: Diet

The stag beetle and the rhino beetle both eat the same foods as larvae and adults. They start their larval stage by consuming a lot of rotten wood. As adults, they don’t eat as much, but they subsist on decayed fruit and tree sap.

Stag Beetle vs Rhino Beetle: Species

The stag beetle comes from the Lucanidae family, but the rhino beetle comes from the Scarabaeidae family. Rhino beetles come from the Dynastinae subfamily, and they have 1,500 species spread across 225 genera.

The stag beetle belongs to the Aesalinae, Lampriminae, Lucaninae, and Syndesinae subfamilies, and there are roughly 1,200 species throughout the world. The divisions between these species are quite deep at the family level.

Stag Beetle vs Rhino Beetle: Range and Habitat

Both the stag beetle and rhino beetle are found throughout the world. Noteworthy stag beetles are found in the U.S., Europe, and Southern Asia. Meanwhile, the rhino beetle’s most famous member, the Hercules beetle, is found in South America and Central America.

Both species prefer to live in wooded areas, but they can be found in woodlands, grasslands, and even deserts. Since these species are large and mostly incapable of harming people, they’re popular pets for people that want a long-lived insect sidekick!

All in all, the morphology and size of these two beetles are the easiest ways to tell them apart. However, they are not the only differences. By looking closely at these insects, you can probably determine what sort of beetle you’re seeing.  

Up Next:


Share this post on:
About the Author

I've been a freelance writer since 2013, and I've written in a variety of niches such as managed service providers, animals, and retail distribution. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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