The Dik-Dik: Funny name, serious relationships

While being with one person is the going thing in our society, it’s actually rare for mammals to do so. In the wild less than 3% of mammals are monogamous –bonding and mating with a single partner.

The fact that the dik-dik does this, is just that little bit odd.

Found in East and South West Africa, dik-diks are pretty funny looking things. They’ve got these elongated, prehensile noses that condense water and help them stay cool in extremely hot temperatures. They also have two big dark eye spots below their eyes, which are actually glands producing a secretion they use to mark their territories with.

Photo: Katherine Munday

Stranger still though, are the partnerships dik-diks form.

Animals are usually monogamous because the female needs help raising the young or because males don’t have the opportunity to mate with more females. This less romantic idea that males would have many partners if they could, was originally thought to explain monogamy in the dik-dik, but studies have shown this isn’t the case.

Instead the bond between them appears much deeper.

When male dik-dik’s had the scent of other females placed in their territories those already paired off wouldn’t leave, staying with their female. It was only the unpaired males that left to investigate, no doubt looking for a lady of their own.

Photo: Katherine Munday

So it appears male dik-diks stay loyal to their female, even in the face of temptation. Thankfully for the female dik-diks, they can sleep easy  knowing their man isn’t out with some other antelope.



Kamau, J., Maina, J., & Maloiy, G. (1984) The design and the role of the nasal passages in temperature regulation in the dik-dik antilope (Rhynchotragus kirki) with observations on the carotid rete. Respiration Physiology, 56(2), 183-194. Retrieved via Science Direct

Komers, P. (1996). Obligate monogamy without paternal care in Kirk’s dik-dik. Animal Behaviour, 51(1), 131-140. Retrieved via Science Direct

Kranz, K. (1991). Monogamy in the dik-dik. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 29(4), 87-105. Retrieved via Science Direct


  1. Haha it seems so. I know, I was surprised too! I knew it was a low percentage, but 3 is teeny.

    Interesting enough, some people think that humans aren’t supposed to be monogamous, it’s just become socially acceptable – but with all the time and money it takes to raise kids, monogamy makes way more sense to me. What do you think?

    And thanks for sharing the link! I loved the gibbons best, funnily enough my display picture thing is actually a pair of gibbons at the moment, they’re too adorable haha.


  2. […] Compromise and self-sacrifice are inevitable in serious relationships, and guys or girls who have yet to fully develop into themselves risk unknowingly giving up bits of themselves to their partners. True love is unselfish. The Dik-Dik: Funny Name, Serious Relationships | Odd Organisms […]


  3. […] Serious Relationships: What is the Rush? Posted by Bryan Mercier on Jun 11th, 2013. In my last post, we briefly observed how rushing into relationships and taking them too quickly blurs our vision of reality and can lead to poor decision … The Dik-Dik: Funny Name, Serious Relationships | Odd Organisms […]


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