The rhino’s thick skin protects it from sharp grass and thorns. The skin, which can be 1 ½ centimeters thick and hangs in folds on the rhino’s body, takes on the appearance of armor and protects the rhino from serious injury.
Although the rhino’s skin is thick, it is also very sensitive to insect bites and sunburn. Rhinos spend a lot of time wallowing in mud, coating their skin to protect it from bugs and the sun. Because the rhino’s skin is often home to ticks, flies, fleas and lice, rhinos have a symbiotic relationship with small birds called oxpeckers. The birds eat the ticks and insects, and they also alert the rhino to potential danger by making a lot of noise when they sense a threat.
The rhino’s horn is another way it protects itself. The horn can be up to 3 feet long, and the rhino uses it to fight off attacking lions and other rhinos. When provoked, rhinos can charge at speeds of 30 mph with their heads lowered to gore the enemy with the horn. Rhino horns are made of keratin, just like human hair and fingernails, and they are highly desired for their medicinal uses.