Many animals can honk or roar, but only a dik-dik can dik-dik. Three of these tiny antelopes, which get their name from the noise they make when startled, have recently arrived at Paignton Zoo and can be seen in their new home near Baboon Rock.
As well as being a great example of onomatopoeia, dik-dik (or, more precisely, Kirk’s dik-dik) are fascinating animals and we’re sure our visitors will find them as intriguing as we do.
Quick (quick) dik-dik facts:
- Dik-dik are tiny. A fully grown dik-dik stands about 40cm tall and weighs around 5kg. This makes it bigger than a domestic cat but smaller than most breeds of dog.
- Because they’re so tiny, there are lots of things that eat them. Visitors may be surprised by the size of the fence around their new home but fences are designed to keep things out as well as in! Our zoo site is visited by occasional cats and foxes so we need to make sure they’re safe from harm.
- They’re monogamous. Most antelope live in herds, but dik-dik tend to live in pairs that stay together year after year.
- They cry to let other dik-dik know where they live. Well, kind of. They have a gland under each eye (called the preorbital gland) that secretes a dark, sticky fluid. They scent mark their territory by poking their glands onto sticks and twigs.
- You can easily tell the boys from the girls. Females are larger, and only male dik-dik have horns.
- They don’t waste a single drop of water. Because they come from very dry environments they conserve as much of the water they drink as possible. They are thought to produce the driest poo, and most concentrated wee, of any hoofed animal!
- We guarantee you’ll think they’re cute. With huge eyes, voluminous eye lashes, and a wiggly nose, they’re definitely in the running to become one of your new favourite animals at Paignton Zoo.
- Our dik-dik are likely to be quite shy until they settle into their new home. They have plenty of places to hide so make sure you look amongst the plants and grasses. With a bit of patience, you’ll hopefully be rewarded with a glimpse of these amazing antelopes.
Our Kirk’s dik-dik are part of a European Studbook which aims to ensure that the captive population in European zoos is fit and healthy. Thankfully, wild dik-dik are not considered threatened at the moment, but in a rapidly changing world, this situation could easily change. Conservation is about keeping common species common, as well as bringing rare species back from the brink; studying these animals in zoos give us the knowledge we need to do exactly this.