Rhinos may be majestic but they’re not big communicators.
When you’re out in the wild it’s rare to hear the sound a rhino makes. However, these special animals do have a wide range of vocalisations.
This article explains the sounds that rhino make and why they use them.
The sounds made by rhinos
Rhinos are usually quiet animals but they make a variety of sounds in different circumstances.
These include grunting, growling, mooing, panting, squealing, screaming and trumpeting.
Squealing and Trumpeting
This high-pitched sound is used for many reasons when a rhino is excited. Rhinos are naturally bashful creatures and these squeals are most commonly heard between a calf and its mother.
Sometimes these squeals come out a little like a trumpet, which is also one of the most important sounds that an elephant makes.
Grunting and Growling
Male rhinos grunt and growl at their rivals when they attempt to show dominance. It can sound like they are fed up with life, almost like an annoyed teenager huffing when they get frustrated.
These grunts can continue for a long time and may be heard in the night when you’re on a safari.
Mothers use panting to call their calf, indicating that it needs to come closer to her. It’s a form of warning and is heard when a rhino encounters danger.
Panting at different speeds and in different rhythms, rhinos can convey different messages that are unique to their relationship. So the panting between one mother and calf won’t be the same as another.
Just like humans, rhinos scream when they are frightened. It’s likely they do this when confronted by poachers.
Mothers will also scream to their calf when predators are around and they must get to safety.
Other forms of rhino communication
As they are mostly solitary animals, rhinos don’t have cause to use their sounds very often. Most commonly they’re used in a parental way, or when two rival males are fighting.
Rhinos mostly communicate through scents. They have an exceptionally detailed sense of smell and deliberately spray their faeces and urine as a mean of communicating with others in the area.
Every pile of faeces is a form of identity and holds important information about the rhino. When they encounter a pile of dung, rhinos will smell it before walking through it. After scattering the dung they usually add their own faeces to the pile.
Have you heard the sound a rhino makes?
Did you hear the sounds of a rhino on a safari?
What was it like?
Research shows that rhinos also use infrasonic sounds that are below the range of what humans can hear.
So these incredible animals are communicating below the depths of our own understanding.