White rhinos are pale gray and are not named for white skin, but as a mistranslation of “wide,” referring to their wide mouths.
White rhinos are so called, not because they are white, but because their faces are wide. This mistranslation refers to the rhino’s flat, broad mouth with flat lips that allow for grazing. The lips are used to gather browse and grass, taking the place of the incisors. Their square-shaped lips allow them to consume vast amounts of grasses, which is why they are often cited as the largest pure grazer in the world.
White rhinoceroses actually have pale gray to dark brown skin which is dense, tough, and has plate-like folds. The epidermis of white rhinos is 1 millimeter thick and their dermis is 18 millimeter thick, on average. The skin is generally hairless except for ear fringes and stiff bristles terminating the long, thin tail.
• Image | © Art G., Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
• Sources | (Dulal, 2017; Estes, 1991; Groves, 1972; Nowak, 1999; Pienaar, 1994; Skinner & Chimimba, 2006)