Dik-dik is considerably smaller in size than other African antelope species. The height of a dik-dik is 50-70 cm and the weight is 3-6 kg. A dik-dik can live approximately 10 years. As mentioned earlier, dik-diks are named for the females’ alarm calls. Dik-diks whistle through their long and tubular snouts to alert others about predators.
There are some important differences between a male and a female dik-dik. Male dik-diks have a small horn that is slanted backward. The horns of the males can grow up to 7.6 cm. Their crown-like hairs partially hide their horns. Dik-diks’ upper-body color is grayish-brown and the lower portion of their body is yellowish-brown. They have a special gland called the “preorbital gland” inside the corner of each eye. The secretion of this gland helps them to mark their territories.
Dik-dik has a special adaptation to control its body temperature in extreme weather conditions.
Range & habitat
Dik-diks are native to eastern and southern Africa. In eastern Africa, they live in shrublands and savannas. Dik-diks are also found in dense forests and open plains where tall grass is abundant. The size of their territories is close to 5 hectares.
There are a total of 4 species of dik-diks. These are:
- Günther’s dik-dik
- Kirk’s dik-dik
- Silver dik-dik
- Salt’s dik-dik
You can know more about these dik-dik species below as well as about their range and habitat.
Günther’s dik-dik (Madoqua guntheri)
Günther’s dik-diks are found in the arid zones of East Africa. Günther’s dik-dik is one of the smallest antelopes in Africa. It is generally found in the lowlands of Ethiopia, northern and eastern regions of Kenya, Somalia, southeastern Sudan, and Uganda. These dik-diks don’t live in coastal areas.
Kirk’s dik-dik (Madoqua kirkii)
Kirk’s dik-dik also lives in Eastern Africa. Kirk’s dik-diks are primarily found in eastern and southwestern Africa.
You can also find this dik-dik species in Etosha National Park, Namibia.
Silver dik-dik (Madoqua piacentinii)
Silver dik-diks live in low and dense thickets of the southeastern coast of Somalia and Shebelle Valley in southeastern Ethiopia. It is the smallest dik-dik species and its height is only 30-33 cm. Its weight is 2-3 kg.
Salt’s dik-dik (Madoqua saltiana)
Salt’s dik-dik can be found in semidesert, bushland, and thickets in the Horn of Africa. It is also found in northern Kenya and eastern Sudan. This dik-dik is named after the discoverer of Abyssinia, Henry Salt.
Like other antelopes, dik-diks are herbivorous animals. They mainly eat leaves, shoots, fruit, and berries. Dik-dik doesn’t prefer grass. They generally eat a little amount of grass if there are no other resources available. A dik-dik doesn’t need to drink water as it gets a sound amount of water from food. Dik-diks also ruminate or “chew the cud”. A dik-dik digests its food with the help of micro-organisms in its stomachs.
Behavior & lifestyle
Dik-diks are shy animals. They remain active from dawn until mid-morning and mid-afternoon until after dark. Dik-diks remain active in this manner to avoid the midday heat. They are monogamous. The parent dik-diks don’t form a group with their calves. The parents drive out their calves at an early age.
Like other antelopes, dik-diks also mark their territories. They mark their territories using dung and urine. However, fights for territorial authority are rare among dik-diks.
Female dik-diks become sexually mature earlier than males. The female gestates two times in a year. Each time the female bears only one offspring. The survival rate of young dik-diks is 50-50. That’s why the mother hides the offspring for a time after birth. The offspring grows quickly and reaches its full size by seven months. At that age, the parents force it to leave the territory.
Several predators prey on dik-diks. Primarily, leopards, caracals, lions, hyenas, wild dogs, and last but not least humans hint dik-diks. Monitor lizards, cheetahs, jackals, baboons, eagles, hawks, and pythons also feed on dik-diks.
Fun dik-dik facts
Here is a list of “Top 5 Fun Dik-dik Facts” that caters to the topmost facts about these small antelopes.
- Dik-diks can reach their speed up to 42 kilometers/hour.
- Dik-diks can keep their head high while eating to detect predators. Apart from that, they have excellent eyesight!
- Unlike other animal species female dik-diks are larger than males.
- A dik-dik inserts grass stems and twigs into their preorbital gland to scent-mark its territory.
- Dik-diks can tolerate temperatures close to 40 °C.
- Dik-diks have one of the funniest animal names!
Meet the dik-dik
Do you know Gazelle is also an antelope? You can read about Gazelle here.
Did you enjoy learning more about the dik-dik? Have you ever met this unique creature face-to-face? Tell us about your dik-dik experience in the comment section below. Because those who care share!
- Grubb, P. (2005). “Genus Madoqua“. In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 683–684. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- “9 Fun Facts About the Dik-Dik“. mentalfloss.com. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
- Dik-dik. African Wildlife Foundation. Web. 4 February 2010.
- Brynn Schaffner and Kenneth Robinson. Savanna. Blue Planet Biomes.
- Living Africa: Wildlife Bovid Family. library.thinkquest.org
- Brotherton, PNM; Pemberton, JM; Komers, PE; Malarky, G (1997). “Genetic and behavioural evidence of monogamy in a mammal, Kirk’s dik-dik (Madoqua kirkii)“. Proceedings: Biological Sciences. 264 (1382): 675–681. doi:10.1098/rspb.1997.0096. PMC 1688408. PMID 9178540.
- Richard Estes (1992). The Behavior Guide to African Mammals: Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, Primates. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-08085-0. dik-dik.
- Dik-Diks – Territorial Behavior – Male, Territory, Offspring, and Female. Science.jrank.org. Retrieved on 2012-05-26.