The adorable dik-dik, a pleasing antelope, is as cute as it is tiny. While it might seem like a deer at first, the dik-dik barely reaches a height of one foot! Isn’t there something utterly lovable about mini animals that makes us all gushy-mushy? But there are things about the antelope that will take you for a surprise ride – some of them as enchanting as their little size, others a bit more questionable!
The first thing you noticed are probably its doe-eyes. Nature’s trick fools us into believing that dik-diks have two pairs of eyes – one large and one small. This, however mesmerizing, isn’t exactly true. But their arresting eyes do serve a very special purpose. You see, to mark their ‘property’, their dwelling, a dwarf antelope(and sometimes its family) would rub its eyes against the grass and straws and twigs. This is because, just like tear-glands in us humans, dik-diks have inorbital glands that secrete a fluid with its own distinct scent. Once the scent has covered the perimeter of the area a dik-dik wants, it is in its name.
But that’s not the only way dik-diks mark their property.
Fair warning, things are about to get a little dirty.
The dik-dik is polygamous and mates for life. So when a male of this antelope family has found his female partner, they decide to own property. To ‘mark’ the land as theirs, they have a pee-and-poop ceremony.
The female comes forward first, and urinates. And then she defecates. Then her partner comes forward, smells her, um, excreta, curls his upper lip, scratches off her poop with his hind legs, and proceeds to do the same two things his partner had done.
And that’s how you mark property – not with documents, but with DNA.
Hey, we warned you.
While this ceremony isn’t exactly adorable, we like to think of the dik-dik family going around, rubbing its eyes on the boundary of the property, all of them bunny-sized. The dik-dik kids take part in this smell-to-mark ceremony, too. In fact, a dik-dik baby will live with its parents for some months after its birth, and then the parents chase it away from their land.
Okay, how human is that? We only understand at 18, ouch!
Apart from this, another thing you’d love about these little dik-diks is that these mini creatures run in a zig-sqg pattern. And they make a dik-dik sound – that’s what gave them their name.
The dik-diks have excellent vision, and can run at a speed of 42km/h. This is how they stay safe from predators – jackals, big cats, hyenas, dogs – everyone wants a piece of dik-dik.
But only the land gets it.
Dik-diks are cute and harmless, but judging these adorable animals by their looks could be your last mistake!