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The Mighty Oxpecker

Rhinos are often accompanied by an oxpecker, which perches on the rhino's back.

Oxpeckers, which are also called tickbirds, have sharp claws that allow them to grab onto the backs of large mammals.

But these hitchhiking tickbirds don't cause their hosts any pain; they're barely noticeable. They benefit from the relationship but also contribute in many ways.

Using their broad, thick beaks, oxpeckers pick at scabs on the rhino's back and feed on the blood. They also pick out ticks and other parasites from the rhino's skin.

Oxpeckers are so adapted to life on their host's back that they even mate there.

And because the oxpeckers are so at home on the rhino, they make for great security guards. When intruders get close, the oxpecker shrieks to alarm the rhino of unwelcome company.

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