White Rhino Wallowing

One of my favorite activities to do when I have white rhinos in bomas is to get out the hose and create a shower and temporary mud wallow for them.  It is usually a matter of seconds before a rhino walks over and plops down in the mud, rolling side to side, sometime all the way onto his or her back, wriggling and rolling before she or he stands up, covered in mud.

Wallowing in the mud isnít just a fun way for white rhinos to pass the time. The cooling effect of the mud provides relief and the mud coat they gain provides a layer of natural sunscreen. Rhino skin is hardier than human skin but it is not immune to damage from the sun. 

Wallowing in the mud also helps protect rhino skin from insects such as biting flies and ticks. Rhino skin is thick but vascular and bites from certain insects will cause it to bleed. They are susceptible to certain tick-borne disease, so controlling external parasites is a necessity.

While sun damage is rare, dehydration and hyperthermia are concerns and can be fatal, especially in young animals who lose a mother to poaching or are otherwise orphaned. Fortunately, it is unusual to have to teach a rhino to wallow. If you provide the mud, they will generally jump in!








Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.