Dik Dik Animal – Interesting Facts About The Smallest African Antelope
Last Updated on May 26, 2023 by Shu
Do you know what a Dik Diks is? Perhaps you have never heard of them and are intrigued? Or maybe you are looking to brush up on your pub quiz knowledge? Whatever your reason is, we have the answer for you!
In the Western world, African Dik Diks are a bit of a mystery. These animals aren’t something that we see everyday, and often we find ourselves wondering more about them.
We wonder about their habitat, lifespan, diet, and if there is anything unique or interesting about them.
But no matter what we do, we just can’t seem to find the answers that we need. Well, no more! Today, we are here with everything you need to know about them! Keep reading to learn what they are and to read a whole host of interesting facts about them!
Dik-Dik (Common Name – Madoqua)
The Dik Dik animal , also known as Madoqua, is a type of small antelope found in Eastern and Southern Africa.
It is said that they get their name from their whistling sound. A dik-dik makes an alarm call by whistling through its nose when it is alarmed. When the call is made, it sounds like “dik dik.” This shrill sound informs other dik-diks and larger animals that danger is nearby.
The first record of this specie was created in 1668 by Sir Walter Raleigh during his expedition to Cape Town, South Africa. During that time he saw what looked like sheep but were small and had no antlers. He called them “Dikkies”. In 1883 the genus name Capra was given to these animals as they closely resemble sheep.
A true caprine species, the goat-like appearance caused some controversy at this time because it was thought that caprins could not interbreed with wild goats.
In fact, they’re some of the smallest antelopes you’ll ever see. In terms of size, they are no larger than hares. As small animals, dik-diks often have many predators, which is why they are cautious and skittish.
They can be spotted by the spots on their back, which may change color seasonally. The male has a wide forehead and is horned while the female is without horns and has dark brownish fur with white markings on her face.
They have a distinguishing feature – elongated snouts with bellows-like muscles that pump blood through them to prevent overheating. This blood is cooled by airflow and evaporation before it is recirculated. dik-diks, however, can tolerate temperatures of up to 40 °C (104 °F) without panting.
Dik Dik Species
There are four species of dik-dik:
- Guenther’s dik-dik – their population is 511,000 individuals in eastern Africa including Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia.
- Kirk’s dik-dik – has a population of 971,000 individuals in the eastern part of Africa (Kenya, Tanzania) and in the west (Namibia).
- Silver dik-dik – Data Deficient.
- Salt’s dik-dik – the population is 485,600 individuals in the eastern part of Africa (Somalia and Ethiopia).
Source: African Wildlife Foundation
Where Do They Live?
They live in dry savanna areas including arid, dense thorn scrub, thickets, open woodlands, riverine woodlands, and plains. They spend most of their time resting and sleeping.
In South Africa, there are five different regions to find them. From north to south are the Northern Kalahari, Northern Transvaal, North West, Southern Kalahari, and Southern Transvaal. All 5 regions have unique characteristics.
For example in the northern Kalahari region, the grass and vegetation are short so they must walk further and longer distances than in other regions to find food.
Also, rainfall is greater than in any other region and drought occurs more often. All regions suffer from poaching and habitat loss. According to some scientists, their populations have declined since the 1980s.
How Do They Mark Territory?
Their territory is marked by defecation. Females defecate and urinate first at a specific site, while males stand directly behind them. He curls his upper lip and shows his teeth as he sniffs her droppings and urine. After scraping her feces with his front legs, he deposits his own feces and urine over them.
There is a bare black spot below the inside corner of each eye contains a preorbital gland. The scent glands secrete a dark and sticky secretion. In order to scent-mark their territory, males from each territory poke their eyes into grass stems and twigs to warm other males.
What Is The Lifespan Like?
When they are in captivity usually live between 4 to 12 years. Because of their social behavior, females are often kept separate from males.
Usually, both parents raise young and help out during pregnancy. It takes 3 months for the baby to be born and then another month before it starts eating solid foods.
By 8 weeks old, calves will begin grazing on leaves and shoots and by 9 to 10 months old they should start to compete for food. They are considered livestock and they can be handled safely by anyone who knows how to handle an animal properly.
Due to their social behavior, owners must keep a close eye on their animals. When they get stressed they become aggressive and territorial. When they act aggressively they will charge at anything that moves, including humans.
Interesting Facts About Them
Here are some interesting facts about them:
- Females are bigger than males.
- Their horns are straight and grow longer as they get older.
- Their small size makes them easy targets for predators. They are hunted by big cats (lions, tigers), jackals, monitor lice, hyenas, birds of prey (eagles, hawks), wild dogs, snakes, and humans.
- They run in a zigzagging pattern when they’re startled or threatened, making a high-pitched whistle. This shrill noise helps alert other animals of nearby danger, so they’ll be ready to fight back if necessary.
- They live in a territory. Males mate with females once or twice a year, and females only give birth to one child at a time.
- When a newborn baby is born, the mother takes it away from the father.
- They are herbivorous mammals. Their diet includes foliage, shoots, fruits, and berries.
- An adult can weigh between 20 and 56 pounds, though most weigh around 40 pounds.
- The average length of an adult horned antelope is 2.6 inches long.
- Adult females have 5 mammary glands in total. They produce milk just like cows do.
- Males usually start breeding at 8 years old. They’re one of the rare monogamous pairs.
- Some males stay with the same group throughout their entire life. These are known as bachelor herds.
- On the other hand, some bachelor herd members will leave to join another herd later in life. Those are called migrant herds.
- Youngsters learn how to walk upright with their short legs from the first few weeks of their life.
- By five months old, the calves start eating solid food. By 7 months of age, the babies begin to explore their surroundings while nursing.
- At 1 year old, they can walk and run. At two years old, they reach sexual maturity.
- They become very aggressive when there are too many males chasing after the same female.
- Despite being aggressive towards each other on occasion, They are usually peaceful animals.
- Unlike the Impala, which has a white chin and face, a Dik Dik has a brown head and chest. This coloration provides camouflage against rocks and dirt.
- They’re good swimmers and jump over rivers where water levels are higher.
- These animals belong to a family that includes the bongo, sitatunga, and tiang. They’re found on almost all African plains except the Sahara Desert.
- In the wild, herds spend most of their time grazing on pastures near water sources. This allows them to drink easily whenever necessary.
- When the weather starts getting hotter and dryer, the herds move closer to water. Here they find places to rest under shade trees or bushes so they can keep cool.
- They are rarely hunted in Africa. Some people do catch them and sell them as pets when they appear in markets along the border between Angola and Namibia.
- The newborn baby fawn starts growing new hair immediately after giving birth.
- Females have rounded bodies and a broader neck. Males usually have more pointed faces, longer necks, larger heads, and thinner tails than females.
- Some experts believe that this specie originated from a type of antelope called Rusa deer. These two kinds of antelopes look very similar.
- Males fight aggressively by biting each other, kicking, charging, wrestling, and even biting off parts of one another’s bodies. These fights sometimes continue for hours. This is done as a warning to potential rivals not to approach them during copulation. Females also use sex as a form of intimidation. If she succeeds in defeating her opponent, she’ll win more access to mates.
- Like many other antelopes, their’ ancestors originated in Asia. Scientists believe that these early antelopes migrated out of India into present-day Africa during periods of cold climate.
These fascinating animals are native to South Africa and are classed as one of the most romantic animals in the world because they live in pairs and tend to mate for life.
They’re super cute, too, and there are around four subspecies in existence. We hope you enjoyed learning about Dik Diks.