They let off a single, sharp whistle when startled and may retreat in a series of stiff-legged bounds. Each time its hooves hit the ground, it gives off a further short whistle, and it is from this that it is thought to have derived its name. The force of its legs hitting the hard terrain is protected by the animal’s shock absorbers: well developed, rubbery pads which are at the back of each hoof.
They occur singly, in pairs, or in family parties of three, except during the dry season when groups of up to six may be seen together. Dik-diks are territorial, and mark their territories using a secretion produced by glands which are found in front of their eyes, as well as with dung and urine. Their main predators are leopards and caracals.
The Damara Dik-Dik (also known as Kirk’s Dik-Dik) has an elongated, mobile muzzle, which it uses to search for its favourite food: it stands on its hind legs if necessary to reach for a succulent shoot, flower or fruit. Due to its small body size it has to feed on plant parts with a high nutrient content.
When feeding dik-dik tend to have an active period, followed by rest: these alternate throughout the day. Although the main periods of activity are during the morning and late afternoon, it is possible to see individuals feeding even during the heat of the day. Dik-dik are independant of drinking water, but will drink from puddles when it is available.