Mammals World Wildlife

Dik-dik

Dik-dik looking at the camera

Conservation status: Least Concern

Scientific name: Madoqua

A Madoqua, is a small type of antelope, which is formerly known as the dik-dik. Despite its unusual name and size, this is a shy critter with an impressive lifestyle and handy physical characteristic that help it survive in the wild.


The origin of the name dik-dik

The name dik-dik originated from the sound that both male and females make when they are in danger.

 

The population size of dik-diks is considered large enough that they are classified as least concern. However, like all other critters in the world, dik-diks have to constantly be alert of the dangers in their surrounding, such as predators, habitat loss, and being hunted by humans for their skin.  

Dik-dik physical characteristics

On average, this critter can weigh between 3 – 6 kg (6.6 – 13.2 lb) and often range between 50 – 70 cm in height. They have small bodies, with short fur and an elongated hairy snout.

How can you tell the difference between a female and male dik-dik?

At first, it may not seem completely obvious which gender is which, because they both look alike. However, there are two physical characteristics that differentiate between them.

Firstly, females have bigger bodies, and secondly, male dik-diks are the only ones that can grow small horns when they reach puberty.

Male dik-dik

The dik-dik diet

This small critter eats a variety of leaves, herbs, fruits, berries, flowers and pods. Surprisingly, this critter doesn’t have to drink water as often as other animals. Dik-diks can stay hydrated through its herbivore diet of plants and juicy fruits.  

Fascinatingly enough, dik-diks have pointy shaped heads that allows them an easier access to flowers, fruits and berries that grow in thorny bushes, which not many animals are able to reach without getting injured.

With the help of their pointy shaped heads, they are also able to keep an eye for any predators while they enjoy their meal.

Female dik-dik

Remarkably, dik-diks have a similar digestive system as cows! They have four chambered stomachs, they have to regurgitate their food, and then chew it multiple times in order to make sure the food is digested properly.

How long does a dik-dik live?

On average, this tiny mammal can live up to 10 years in the wild, and up to 17 years in captivity. The reason why they live significantly longer in captivity is because they are protected from predators and humans that want to hunt them.

A dik-dik’s threats

Dik-diks have to constantly be vigilant of predators. They have to keep an eye on multiple large animals, such as:

  • Humans
  • Wild dogs
  • Eagles
  • Hawks
  • Cheetahs
  • Pythons
  • Hyena
  • Lions

When a dik-dik sees a predator, it makes an alarming sound to alert others, and then it runs away. Remarkably, a running dik-dik can reach a speed of up to 42 km/ h (26 mph).

 

The dik-dik reproduction

Female dik-diks are known to be monogamous critters, while the male are considered polygamous, and try to mate with as many females as possible.

Fawn dik-dik

They often become ready to reproduce during the dry season of the year, which is between June and December. On average, females breed twice per year, with a gestation period of 5.7 months; resulting to giving birth to one offspring, also known as a fawn.

A dik-dik offspring

When a dik-dik gives birth, the fawn will rely on its mother until it sexually matures. Females will be sexually mature around 6 months, and 12 months for males. When these offsprings have reached maturity, the parents will force them to explore and find other groups of dik-diks to socialise and create their own herds.

Do dik-diks fight?

It’s unusual for females to be involved in fights, but it’s common for males to have a few confrontations. Whenever they fight, it’s often involving their territory.

A fight commonly consists of vigorously nodding their heads and walking enough distance to charge at each other. This process often lasts until one of them gives up, by stomping the ground and urinating.

Where do dik-diks live?

There are five different species of dik-diks: the salt’s dik-dik, Gunther’s dik-dik, Silver dik-dik, Kirk’s dik-dik and this dik-dik. These critters are all scattered around different countries of Africa, such as Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Angola, Namibia, Tanzania and Ethiopia. However, this type of dik-dik can be found in Somalia.

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