Kirk's dikdiks are tiny antelopes that exhibit in shades of color depending on habitat—the drier semidesert areas usually have paler individuals. Dikdiks have large dark eyes surrounded by a white ring. A black spot below the inside corner of each eye contains a preorbital gland that produces a dark sticky secretion. Dikdiks insert grass stems and twigs into the gland to scent-mark their territories.
To prevent overheating while minimizing need for water, the dikdik has evolved a particular cooling mechanism. Their elongated snouts have bellows-like muscles by which blood is pumped. Airflow and subsequent evaporation cools this blood before it is recirculated to the body. However, this panting is only implemented in extreme conditions—dikdiks can tolerate temperatures of up to 104° Fahrenheit.
Dikdiks live in various habitats with good cover and plentiful browse, but without tall herbage. They are known to move to different ranges when grasses grow too high and obstruct their view.
Dikdiks form monogamous pairs in fixed territories of low bush along dry, rocky stream beds. They mark their territory with dung deposits and with secretions from the preorbital gland.
Sight, scent and hearing are well-developed, and dikdiks are very alert. They respond to the alarm calls of other animals. When in danger they tend to hide instead of flee.
Dikdik females give birth to a single offspring after a gestation of 6 months. Both parents care for the young, who often stays with them until the mother’s next birth. At this point, the parents will chase off the subadult.
Dikdiks eat foliage, shoots, fruit and berries. They are water-independent, getting water from the vegetation they eat. Appropriately, they are largely nocturnal, avoiding the heat of the day and unnecessary water loss.
Predators and Threats
People have long hunted dikdiks, setting snares along their pathways. Small bones from the dikdik's legs and feet are used in traditional jewelry. Their skins are often made into suede for gloves.
Did You Know?
- When frightened or disturbed, the dikdik produces a whistling sound through the nose that sounds like "zik-zik," from which its name is probably derived.
- Salt is important to the dikdik's diet, but it does not need to drink as sufficient liquid is contained in the plants it consumes.