A surly heavyweight — the rhinoceros

   The rhinoceros is found today in the warm regions of Asia and Africa and also in Indonesia. This big, clumsy animal has a thick hide that makes it invulnerable to attack by even the largest flesh-eaters. The head, which is concave in front, is armed with one or two horns. These structures are outgrowths of the skin; they consist of compacted masses of hair. The horns continue to grow during the lifetime of the animal. The rhinoceros, or rhino as it is often called, is a plant-eater; it feeds on grasses and foliage of various kinds. It belongs to the family Rhinocerotidae, a name derived from the Greek and meaning "nose-horned animals."
   The rhinoceros has a most unusual partnership with a bird called the tick bird, which spends its time removing ticks and insects from the rhino's hide. Thus it provides food for itself and contributes to the comfort of its big companion. At the approach of an enemy such as man, the bird sounds a warning with loud screeching and much flapping of its wings. It is a most effective sentinel.
   Most rhinoceroses have uncertain dispositions. They are not very intelligent and have poor eyesight and appear to be at a loss when confronted by a prospective enemy, such as man. They are likely to seek refuge in flight; but they are quite as apt to make a sudden charge. Since a rhinoceros cannot turn quickly, it is usually possible to side step its charge unless one yields to panic.
   The commonest rhino of Africa is the black rhinoceros, which stands some five feet at the shoulder and weighs up to three thousand pounds. It has two horns, the front one being the larger of the two. Generally it is a solitary creature, except at mating time. Mating can take place at various times during the year. A single calf is born after a gestation period of some eighteen months. The mother suckles its young for two years or so.
   The largest rhino is the white, or square-lipped variety, found in Central Africa. The animal is not really white, but a rather sooty gray in color. It weighs up to four tons and stands six and a half feet at the shoulder; like the black variety, it has two horns. Sometimes it lives in a small group.
   The great Indian rhinoceros, which ranges over the plains of northern India, Nepal and Assam, has only one horn. Its hide is in, the form of plates, hinged at the joints; hence it is sometimes called the "iron-plated rhino." The skin is dark gray in color. Other rhinos include the Javan, which has one horn, and the Sumatran, which has two.