9 Fun Facts About the Dik-Dik

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Meet the miniature antelope so nice, they named it twice.

1. Dik-diks get their name from their alarm call.

When frightened, they run in a zig-zag pattern at speeds up to 26mph and whistle through their noses, producing a sound similar to "dik-dik." The warning doesn't just protect other dik-diks—it alerts larger animals of danger, too. Incidentally, the dik-dik's scientific name, Madoqua kirkii, is much less fun to say.

2. The Italian pop group Dik Dik is no relation.

Their biggest hit is a 1966 Italian cover of "California Dreamin'." Play it loudly in the grasslands of Africa, and you'll frighten a dik-dik.

3. Dik-diks are probably smaller than your dog.

These little ungulates live in Eastern and Southern Africa, but they'd be the perfect New York City apartment pet. Fully grown, they reach 12 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 7 to 15 pounds. Alas, they probably can't fetch.

4. Their size makes for a wide variety of predators.

Most of them are the usual suspects: leopards, cheetahs, jackals, as well as monitor lizards. The biggest threat is humans who hunt dik-diks for their skin, which is then turned into gloves. The antelope's so small, each hide produces only one glove.

5. Still, they're not the tiniest antelope species.

Mirko Raner

That honor goes to the rabbit-sized West African royal antelope, which weighs under 10 pounds and stands 10 to 12 inches high as an adult. Awww!

6. Dik-diks live in pairs, not herds.

Most antelope live in herds, because there's strength in numbers. Not so with dik-diks. Once they find that special someone, they spend the rest of their days as a couple—usually about four years in the wild. Dik-diks mate for life. They kick their offspring out of the territory when they reach adult size at seven months old, which usually coincides with mom's next pregnancy. Mothers run off female offspring, and fathers run off sons.

7. It's easy to tell males and females apart.

In a pair, the slightly larger dik-dik is the female. Or you could just look for small ribbed horns, which are only found on males.

8. Dik-diks mark their territory with tears.

Well, preorbital glandular fluid, to be exact. It comes from the black spot in the corner of their eyes. Dik-diks bury their heads in grass, poking their eyes with it to spread the sticky secretion. They also use their urine and feces to make a place smell like home.

9. Speaking of bathroom habits, they don't let water go to waste.

Dik-diks drink very little water. To make the most of every dew drop, they excrete the driest poop and most concentrated urine of any ungulate. Maybe they're not such great apartment pets, after all...

All images courtesy of iStock unless otherwise noted.