Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin

Kirk's Dik-dik

Madoqua kirkii


The body of the Kirk’s dik-dik is 520-670 mm long with a shoulder height of 305-405 mm. This species has yellow-gray to red-brown fur with gray-white fur on the belly. Sexual dimorphism can be seen in the dik-dik by the ringed horns with a stout base displayed by the males, sometimes the horns are covered by fur on the forehead.


Kirk’s dik-dik can be found in southeastern Somalia, central and southern Kenya, northern and central Tanzania, southwestern Angola and Namibia. This species prefers arid bush country with heavy shrubbery to hide in.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

This species has a high metabolic rate and thus requires them to consume a lot of food per body weight. Feeding occurs from dawn to mid-morning and mid-afternoon until dark. Grazing by other species such as zebra and kudu allows abundant food at ideal height for dik-dik to graze. Dik-dik consume vegetation that is low in fiber and easily digested. This species does not need a lot of water, consuming only dew from vegetation, and 80% of their diet consists of the shrubbery of arid bush country.


Dik-diks form permanently mated pairs. Females produce a single offspring 169-174 days after mating. Females may produce young twice a year, usually during the rainy season, November- December and April- May. Females nurse their offspring for about six weeks. Dik-dik reach full adult size after seven months and then mothers run off daughters and fathers run sons out of their territory. Female dik-diks reach sexual maturity at 6 months of age while males do not reach sexual maturity until 12 months of age.

Months and Times of Activity

This species is very shy, concealing themselves most of the time in brush. Kirk’s dik-dik is a nocturnal species, which means they are active mostly at night. 24 adult  dik-dik can be found per square kilometer, males defend their territories by dashing at other males. With each dash, the males stop short, nod their heads and turn around to repeat the process until one gives up. When the dashing is finished the males paw the ground, urinate and defecate.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

•    This species is capable of running 42 kilometers an hour.
•    Dik-dik are known for the calls made when they are startled, “dik-dik” calls are sounded while leaping in a zigzag pattern.
•    Most ruminant species are born with their legs outstretched forwards, but the dik-dik is born with forelegs laid back along-side its body.
•    The elongated snout of the dik-dik forms a proboscis, an adaptation for cooling body temperature. The proboscis allows venous blood to cool through the mucous membrane into the nasal   cavity during breathing and nasal panting.
•    To read legends featuring this animal go to;
•    Children’s book featuring this animal: Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik by Marie Javins


Scheibe, E. 1999. "Madoqua kirkii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 04, 2014 at