Stag Beetle Vs Rhino Beetle: What Are The 5 Key Differences?

If you are considering getting a beetle as a pet, you should know all about the choices you have. In this article, we compare stag beetle vs rhino beetle on the five main points of dissimilarity.

The idea of having insects as pets is becoming popular. People love having tiny creatures as pets who look amazing and are a joy to watch.

Most bugs do not require much attention from your end, and they don’t occupy a large space in your home.

Moreover, feeding them is easy, and they typically don’t seek as much attention as dogs and other common pets.

Speaking of insects as pets, stag beetles and rhino beetles are two of the biggest names on the list. People pay a lot of money to acquire exotic species of these beetles.

If you are thinking of giving it a try, it is wise to understand the differences between stag beetles and rhino beetles, and we will help make your choice easier in this article.

What is a Stag Beetle?

Stag beetles are a family of (mostly) big insects with large mandibles. These jaws can sometimes be as big as the beetle’s body (as in the case of giant stag beetles).

Because of their disproportionate size, they are sometimes compared to the antlers of a stag.

These beetles have a glossy back with a tough exoskeleton and a pair of brown-colored wings.

The males are bigger than the females and are usually 1.37-2.95 inches; the female stag beetles usually grow from 1.18-1.96 inches.

You can often find the larger males wrestling each other, using their mandibles to impress the females for mating.

Female beetles mostly stay on the ground, searching for suitable spots to lay eggs.

Stag beetle vs rhino beetle
Stag Beetle

What Is a Rhino Beetle?

The Rhino beetle is one of the biggest insects in the United States. These have a sturdy, fearsome appearance and are also commonly known as Hercules beetles here.

They are found in different body colors, but usually, the females are blackish-brown.

As the name suggests, they have large horns that the males use to fight each to earn mating rights.

The males are huge, and the biggest beetles can be around 7 inches long! Many of these beetles have distinct spots on their elytra.

Rhinoceros Beetle

What Are The Similarities Between The Two?

Stag beetles and rhino beetles are often compared to each other because of their diet, habits, and similar body structures. Here are some of the things that are common to both species.

  • The males have horns and mandibles that they use to wrestle other males to impress the females and earn mating rights.
  • Both beetles in the larval stage rely on dead wood, tree sap, and decaying fruits to fulfill their diets.
  • Both species have similar boy structures; the bodies are segmented with a tough exoskeleton and wings.

Key Differences

Despite the number of similarities mentioned above, both these insects are very different from each other. In the upcoming sections, we will discuss these differences in detail.

#1. What do they look like?

The other most visible difference in appearance is the structure of the horn and the mandibles.

Stag beetles have mandibles placed horizontally, but rhino beetles have massive horns jutting forward from their head. A few shorter horns in the same region accompany th central horn.

Male Stag Beetle

#2. Which is bigger?

A fully grown rhino beetle can be quite bigger than a stag beetle.

Fully grown larger species of Japanese rhinoceros beetle and Hercules beetles can easily reach 7 inches in length, while the larger species of stag beetles can grow up to 5 inches at best.

Also, due to their enormous size, rhino beetles are usually heavier than stag beetle.

The horns of the rhino beetles are quite big, and they can be almost 1/3rd of their body size.

Lastly, rhino beetles can lift really heavy weights (850 times their size) – they are much better lifters than stag beetles.

#3. What do they eat?

Both of these insects are similar when it comes to eating habits. Both beetle larvae are known for consuming dead and decaying wood.

In fact, the females prefer to lay eggs near areas with an abundance of dead wood.

Both species eat a lot during the larval stage to build fat storage in the body. Once they become adults, they rely on the stored fats to survive.

In rare cases, you can spot these adults feeding on tree sap.

#4. Where do they live?

The two species are present almost everywhere. Giant stag beetles can be spotted in the U.S.; the rainbow stag beetles are from Australia and Japan. A few others are commonly seen scurrying around Southern Asia, the UK, and other parts of Europe.

The Hercules beetle usually lives in areas of Central America and South America.

Wooden areas with a lot of decaying wood are the ideal habitat for both these insects to grow.

They can also thrive in grasslands and deserts. Because they are easy to create a home for, people love to keep them as pets.

#5. Which family of insects do they belong to?

While appearance-wise, the two insects look similar, they are from completely different insect families.

The Rhino beetles belong to Dynastinae subfamily, which itself is part of the larger family of Scarabaeidae. 

There are 30,000 beetles under the Scarabaeidae family, with all having similar characteristics: scalloped legs and three-segmented antennae.

You will be fascinated to know that there are 1,500 species of rhino beetles.

Stag beetles are a part of the Lucanidae family and belong to the Lampriminae, Syndesinae, and Aesalinae subfamilies. There are around 1,200 species of these insects worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the strongest stag beetle?

Different stag beetles have different levels of strength, and it is tough to pick one as the strongest.
The giraffe stag beetle is the biggest one in the family, and it can be considered strong.
The horned dung beetle is regarded as the strongest insect on earth. These insects can lift 1141 times their own body weight.

Can rhinoceros beetles hurt you?

Rhinoceros beetles have a sturdy and intimidating look, and due to the presence of horns, they can look quite harmful.
But these insects won’t cause any harm to you. These insects might start hissing when you go close to them, but they won’t bite or hurt you.

Is a Hercules beetle a stag beetle?

No, a Hercules beetle is a type of rhino beetle. These beetles are counted among the biggest ones on earth. The males can grow up to 7 inches and have long horns on their heads.
The females are comparatively darker in color and do not have horns. Like stag beetles, they prefer to live in areas with abundant rotting wood.

What beetle can lift 1000 times its weight?

The horned dung beetle can lift weights that are more than 1,000 times its weight. These beetles are considered the strongest insects in the world.
The Hercules beetle is also for its impressive strength; it can lift things that are 850 times heavier than their weights.

Wrap Up

Stag beetles and rhino beetles are highly popular pets. People pay good money to acquire these beetles, and why not? 

They do not hurt humans and can be a lot of fun to watch as they scurry about their lives. 

Since both have similar habits and traits, it is crucial to understand the significant differences in size, feeding habits, and suitable habitats if you want to keep them as pets. 

Remember having proper about your pets will help to keep them healthy and safe.

Thank you for reading.

Reader Emails

Considering their popularity, it is no surprise that many of our readers have shared with us their experiences of meeting both these types of insects in the past.

We have also been asked about the differences between the two many times by our readers.

Please go through some of the emails, detailing these insects, along with some interesting photographs of both.

Letter 1 – Stag Beetle: Lucanus elaphus

 

not sure what this is.. Hello… I don’t know anything about bugs, but this huge thing greeted me on my deck railing last week, near Richmond, VA. It was close to 2 inches long and didn’t move when I approached to take the pictures. Unfortunately, the pictures are a little fuzzy, as I was handholding the camera. Any ideas? I’ve never seen anything like this before. Guy Hello Guy, What an impressive Male Stag Beetle, Lucanus elaphus, you have. We have gotten photos of Stag Beetles in the past, but always from the genus Pseudolucanus. Your specimen has impressive mandibles. These beetles occur in the South. They are usually found around the stumps of oak trees, but they do fly and are attracted to lights. Females which have smaller jaws, are reported to be very rare.

Letter 2 – Stag Beetle from Romania

 

Stag Beetle July 20, 2009 Hello again, I think you already have tons of stag beetle photos, but I wanted to share this pic I made last year. I’m a big beetle fan and can’t help taking pictures when I meet one. Of course, after the ”photo shoot” my fetching model was set free :). Love your site by the way, it has become a daily visit. Keep up the lovely work! Sonia Romania
European Stag Beetle
European Stag Beetle
Thanks Sonia, For sending us a photo of a European Stag Beetle, Lucanus cervus.  Here is a link with information on this magestic beetle.

Letter 3 – Stag Beetle: Roadkill in a Parking Lot???

 

Very weird bug Location: Maryville TN May 31, 2011 9:45 pm I saw this bug (dead) in a parking lot today (May 31, 2011) in Maryville TN and took a picture because I had never seen anything like it before. Can you tell me what it is? Thank you! Signature: Sherry
Stag Beetle: Road Kill or Insecticide???
Hi Sherry, Your photo of a dead Giant Stag Beetle, Lucanus elaphus, found in a parking lot saddened us as these are magnificent beetles.  Though we would hope this large male Giant Stag Beetle died of natural causes, we fear it may have become accidental road kill, or even worse, unnecessary carnage. Hi, Daniel — Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know about this beetle. Sherry

Letter 4 – Stag Beetle from Australia: Syndesus cornutus

 

Small australian stag beetle Location: Mount Gambier S.A Australia February 21, 2012 4:53 am Hello! I was wondering if you could identify this stag beetle for me? I left the light on in the kitchen at night and it was sitting on the windowsill in the back yard(in summer). I went outside and chaught two of them to take a closer look at.(i could only find two) a day or so after they died sadly 🙁 . The largest is 14mm (quite small) and the othe 12mm. they are brownish red and both have the lareish antler like mandibles. I cant find a picture or anything about this cute little Beetle… Thanks Signature: Liam
Possibly Stag Beetle
Dear Liam, We agree that this is most likely a Stag Beetle, however, we did not have any luck with an online identification either.  We are posting this as unidentified in the hopes that we might eventually be able to provide you with a species name.
Possibly Stag Beetles
Comment from mct5548 It seems to be the genus Syndesus MacLeay, which is indeed a stag beetle. Two species occur in Australia, S. cornutus and S. macleayi. Ed. Note:  We found this link on Alain Galant’s website and the beetles look like a spot on match to us.  http://web.me.com/alain.galant/LES_LUCANIDAE_DU_MONDE/Syndesus_Cornutus.html

Letter 5 – Stag Beetle from Malaysia is Odontabilis species

 

Subject: What kind of beetle did I photograph? Location: Kinabalu Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia November 26, 2012 6:17 pm Dear sir, I’m curious what kind of beetle I photographed during my trip to Malaysia. This picture was taken in Kinabalu Park, Sabah, Borneo. The phone over which the beetle walks has dimensions 119 x 60.4 x 14.2 mm (4.69 x 2.38 x 0.56 in), giving a clear image of the size of this beetle. Hope you can give me an answer 🙂 Signature: Regards,
Stag Beetle
This is some species of Stag Beetle.  We will try to do additional research to see if we can determine the species. Thanks to a comment by Mardikavana, we know that this is a male Odontabilis species.

Letter 6 – Stag Beetle from Malaysia: male Cyclommatus canaliculatus

 

Subject: A Lucanid, but further…? Location: Kampong Lubok Gayau, Lundu, Sarawak, Malaysia December 31, 2013 9:56 pm We live in Lundu, Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, just about on the jungle. One morning I found this lovely critter clinging to the shower curtain. Length, about 50mm. While I’ve got family, Lucanidae, and possibly genus, Prosopocoilus, can yuo assess my information… and maybe even give me species? Signature: Otto
Stag Beetle
Stag Beetle is male Cyclommatus canaliculatus
Happy New Year Otto, Right now we only have time to confirm that this is a Stag Beetle in the family Lucanidae, and we can post your letter and photo, but we don’t have the time to research its species identity.  We have a prior commitment to attend to and we will continue to research this matter when we return.  Meanwhile, one of our readers might provide a comment or provide a link with a proper identification. Update:  January 2, 2013 Thanks to a comment from Mardikavana, we now know that this is a male Cyclommatus canaliculatus.  We were able to find a photo on Wikimedia Commons and one on Beetle Space. Daniel, Fantastic!  Many thanks. Otto

Letter 7 – Stag Beetle from Germany

 

Subject: bug ID Location: Kaiserslautern Germany March 6, 2015 5:18 pm While visiting my son in Germany last June, I encountered this bug on the patio. I’ve never seen a bug like this and would like to know what kind it is. Signature: C. Holloway
Stag Beetle
Stag Beetle
Dear C. Holloway, Your magnificent beetle is a Stag Beetle, Lucanus cervus.  This Stag Beetle is the subject of a wonderful watercolor painted in 1505 by Albrecht Dürer and currently in the collection of the Getty Museum. Thank you very much. That is quite interesting and pretty exciting!

Letter 8 – Stag Beetle from points unknown

 

Subject: What specie of Beetle is this? Location: Work yard July 10, 2016 3:51 pm Dear, Bugman I was at work wen i noticed this big bug t first i thought it was a hornet but it till i relised it was a lot bigger that i wassnt so i took a snap of the bug and it looks to be a beetle if this is a bettle what type of beetle is this as i am from the uk and i never thought we had any. Signature: Yours faithly Tiarone Trimmer
Stag Beetle
Stag Beetle
Where is the work yard?  Zimbabwe?  Belize??  Other??? Ed. Note:  The location field in our standard form is meant to give us a general indication of where in the world the sighting occurred.  Locations like “bathroom” or “work yard” are not very helpful.  As most of our identification requests from May through October come from North America, we suspect this is case with this Stag Beetle, which we identified to the family level because of the shape of the antennae, which is illustrated on the BugGuide site.  Most of the head is obscured by what appears to be a spider web.  Though Tiarone has indicated “i am from the uk” there is no indication that the sighting occurred there.  If this is a North American sighting, it might be Lucanus placidus which is pictured on BugGuide.  

Letter 9 – Stag Beetle from South Korea

 

Subject:  Albino stag beetle? Geographic location of the bug:  South Korea, Jeju Date: 01/30/2018 Time: 03:51 AM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  In my garden, it just snowed. But the next morning, I found this little poor stag beetle( possibly dorcus hopei?) . But instead of going to hibernation, it wasn’t moving. I took him in, warmed him up and he begun to move. I have him as pet. But why was it white?(Not snow for sure) How you want your letter signed:  Stag beetle lover
Stag Beetle with encrustation
Dear Stag beetle lover, This is NOT an albino Stag Beetle.  It appears to be a normally colored Stag Beetle with some type of mineral encrustation.  Do you use salt to remove snow?

Letter 10 – Stag Beetle Grub

 

Subject:  Beetle Larvae Geographic location of the bug:  Inside A Rotten Pine Log In Northeast Ohio Date: 01/09/2019 Time: 09:53 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  This beetle larvae was found in a old rotten pine log in northeast ohio. It is almost 1 inch long. I need your help in identifying it. How you want your letter signed:  yes
Stag Beetle Grub
Based on this BugGuide image, we are pretty confident this is a Stag Beetle larva.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

22 thoughts on “Stag Beetle Vs Rhino Beetle: What Are The 5 Key Differences?”

  1. Ive been reseaching stags and i think it looks like one, but with one? mabie its a new species? anyway what do you guys think it is?
    🙂
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Thanks Liam for again asserting the possibility that this might be a Stag Beetle. Mardikavana who frequently assists us with beetle identifications does not believe it is a Stag Beetle. We thought the antennae appear to resemble those of a Stag Beetle. We truly need an expert opinion on this identification.

      Reply
  2. It seems to be the genus Syndesus MacLeay, which is indeed a stag beetle. Two species occur in Australia, S. cornutus and S. macleayi.

    Reply
  3. This is male Cyclommatus canaliculatus. Distributed according to wikipedia in Malaysia, Java, Borneo and Nias. So the location fits also.
    Prospocoilus males have wider bodies and more straightforward antlers compared to Cyclommatus species.

    Reply
    • Hi again Mardikavana. We actually did look at some images to try to provide an identification, and we even looked at some images of Cyclommatus canaliculatus, but though they looked similar, there is one feature on the beetle in the photo that was submitted that is lacking on the internet images. The inner edge of the mandibles are noticeably serrated between the head and the first “point”. Do you have any thoughts regarding that? Thanks again.

      Reply
  4. Hi,
    From the photograph, it looks like a male subspecies Odontolabis femoralis waterstradti, Von Rothenburg, 1900.

    The clear identification making is the reddish patch on the head and the pattern of the mandibles.

    Regards…

    David

    Reply
  5. Hi,
    From the photograph, it looks like a male subspecies Odontolabis femoralis waterstradti, Von Rothenburg, 1900.

    The clear identification making is the reddish patch on the head and the pattern of the mandibles.

    Regards…

    David

    Reply
  6. This is definitely a stag beetle (i.e. in the Family Lucanidae) and is the common and widespread (in the S.E. of Australia) Syndesus cornutus.
    Cheers,
    Allen Sundholm

    Reply
    • You are correct. The written query is somewhat incoherent, and though Tiarone is from the UK, the sighting might not be in the UK. European Stag Beetles, Lucanus cervus, are now quite rare and in fact extirpated from much of the original range, but this might be a female. More information on the European Stag Beetle can be found on The People’s Trust for Endangered Species.

      Reply
  7. Yes. I do use rock salt. Good news!! I finally scrubbed the salt off! Now it’s a beautiful stag beetle. I’m thinking about letting it go in springtime.

    Reply

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