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Video: Why do Rhino Calves Eat Poo?

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Kariega Video Showing Interesting Rhino Fact

This video shows Thembi (Hope), a four month old white rhino calf, feeding on her mother's dung. The Kariega ranger explains that the calf is eating the dung to get useful microorganisms. These are needed to help her digest grass once she is weaned from her mother's milk.

Thembi was born on 13 January 2015 at Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa. Her mother, Thandi (Love), was the first-ever rhino to survive a brutal poaching attack in March 2012. Both her horns were hacked off and she was left to bleed to death. Read more about this incredible rhino's story of bravery and survival.

White Rhino Calf Develops a Healthy Digestive System

Rhino calves feed on their mother’s droppings as a way to help mature their digestive systems. At birth their systems do not have the bacteria needed to help digest the grass material that they will feed on for the rest of their lives. The bacteria needed for this is found in their mother’s dung so by eating this for several months the calf can build up enough necessary bacteria to become a grazer like her mother, with a digestive system strong enough to cope with breaking down plant matter in their diet. It is common to see white rhino calves feeding on dung from a few months old until they are about seven months old.

Coprophagia (which means consumption of feces) is not uncommon in the animal kingdom. Animals such as rabbits, dung beetles, elephants and hippos also take part in this practice. Did you learn any new fascinating facts while out on a game drive at Kariega? We would love to hear your stories. Feel free to share them with us via our Facebook page.