Kirk's Dik Dik


Scientific Name: Madoqua kirkii

Geographical Range: Two distinct populations in East and Southwest Africa.

Habitat: Variety of habitats ranging from dry scrub lands to moister thickets and grasslands.

Diet in the Wild: Tree and shrub leaves, buds, flowers, pods, grass, and herbs. Needs much salt and little water.

Conservation Status: Not in danger.

Location in the Zoo: African Savannah

Physical Description:

Body Length: 55-77 cm / 1.8-2.5 ft.
Shoulder Height: 35-45 cm / 14-18 in.
Tail Length: 4-6 cm / 1.6-2.4 in.
Weight: 2.7-6.5 kg / 5.9-14.3 lb.

 Kirk's dik diks are grayish to reddish brown on their backs, and greyish to white on their undersides. The undersides, including the insides of the legs and bottom of the chin, are white.   Only males bear the short ringed horns, which may grow up to 11.4 cm / 4.5 inches long.  These may be slightly hidden by the erectile forelock. They also have large eyes surrounded by whitish rings of fur and an elongated nose.

Social Organization

Family group: Permanent breeding pairs.

Dik diks are shy creatures, who pair for life and maintain family territories. Their distinctive zig-zag path of escape and the 'dik-dik' call of alarm have earned them their name. Dik diks form permanent pair bonds and all families have territories which the male of the adult pair defends the intruders. Once the offspring become mature individuals, they are kicked out of the family group in order to form their own pair bonds and hopefully establish new territory. The female/male relationships are much stronger than the parent/offsping relationships. Adult partners spend much more time together.

Special Adaptations:

Dik diks are primarily active in the morning and late afternoon. They are elusive creatures, spending much of their time hidding in bushland. In order to conserve water, dik diks have very dry faeces and the most concentrated urine of all ungulates. This enables them to survive long periods without access to water. Their long proboscis (nose) acts as a heat exchange system to cool blood traveling to the brain.  Also, when startled they will take off in the zig-zag path of escape.


Reproductive Behavior:

Dik-diks practice obligate monogamy. Obligate monogramy exist when both parents are necessary for survival of the young. The main responsibility of males appears to be defense, although male grooming has also been observed. Males spend most of their time with the female making sure that other males do not try and steal her away. Adult males and females sharing a pair bond are very close. It is easier for the male to take care of one female because females are so scattered over the area. There are no male/male and female/female relationships among dikdik species. There is strong competition among males for a chance to mate with a specific female. However, the female decides who she wants to make with after observing their dominance behaviors.

Birthing peaks occur from November-December and April-May.  Dikdiks;s are live bearers. Females may bear up to two young per year. After birth, kids lie concealed away from their mother for 2-3 weeks. She and her mate spend more time feeding and bringing food back to the youngster until they are able to seek food for themselves. Females nurture their young by suckling them, sniffing, and licking them anogentially. Then after a few minutes, the mother carries the young off to a new hiding place on the territory.  Although they grow up with their parents, the young are ejected from the home territory at 7-8 months.

The Animal at the Zoo:

At the Fort Worth Zoo, you will find the Dik Dik in the same area with the Kudus and Gerenuks.While observing the Dik Dik, the majority of the time it was walking around eating
leaves and grass as seen in the picture above. Being that it is the only one at the zoo, the Dik Dik does not interact much with the Kudus and Gerenuks. It is relatively small compared to  Kudus and Gerenuks.  At times it is hard to spot the Dik Dik not only because it is small in size, but also because it likes to hide in the bushes are lay down beside the trees.  I oberserved the Dik Dik one time running and playing around with the other animals while I was at the zoo. It uses its front limbs and hind limbs to stott at a fast pace. Dik Diks are interesting little, "big" creatures.

Male Dik-Dik

Page Author:
Nicky Davis:

Sources and Links:

Davidson College

Brent Huffman

BBC- Science & Nature- Wildfacts- Kirk's Dik Dik

Diane Wilson & Dr. Rod East


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