Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rhinoceros Beetle

We were walking in our neighborhood this evening when I glanced down just in time to spot a rhinoceros beetle in the edge of the grass. He was probably just coming out of hiding for an evening's prowl. (They are nocturnal.) B carried him on the rest of the walk and back home in a clean handkerchief. When I opened it at home, we saw that he has a broken leg on his left side. It was not in the handkerchief so we assume that he had already lost it when we found him.


We can safely say "him" since it is the males of the species that have the large horns on the front. These are used to compete with other males for the mating rights with females. Perhaps this one just tried to arm-wrestle instead.


The horns are also used for digging when a quick cover is needed.

Rhinoceros beetles are part of the scarab beetle family and the name rhinoceros beetle refers to one of over 300 different scarab beetles.   In parts of Asia, these guys are the focus of gambling activity, as the males will knock each other off a log in a fight.


Rhinoceros beetles have been called the strongest animals on the planet, as they can reportedly lift 850 times their own weight.

In spite of their fierce appearance they are completely harmless and can not hurt you by biting, stinging or with their horns. They are sometimes kept as pets, since, unlike their cousins, the dung beetles, they are considered "clean." They eat rotting fruit and sap.

Though his horn and beautiful mahogany color and his bright yellow eyes on the ends of stalks make him interesting, he still looks a little too much like a roach to look much like a pet.  After a visit to kindergarten, this big guy will be set free.

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