Guenther’s dik-dik (Madoqua guentheri)
Standing just over a foot (30 cm) tall, Guenther’s dik-dik (Madoqua guentheri) are miniature antelopes that have a very distinctive appearance, with their long noses, big eyes, tufted topknot, and long back legs. The ability of Guenther’s dik-diks to survive without access to water makes them perfectly suited for life in the heat. Of all ungulate mammals ever studied, the dik-dik’s body makes the most economical use of water. Even its pronounced nose decreases water loss and cools the blood going to the brain.
Their hindquarters are usually located at the same level or higher than the shoulder. Their pelage is soft, with coloration ranging from yellowish gray to reddish brown on the dorsal side and white to grayish on the ventral. They have a short tail (3 to 5 cm long) which is hairy on the dorsal side and naked on the ventral side.
Males have black horns that are short (up to 9.8 cm long) and are either straight or curved backward from the profile. These horns become more circular towards the tips and are ringed. Sometimes they are hidden by a tuft of hair on the forehead.
Their eyes are large and black. Eyelids and preorbital glands are also black. The ears of dik-diks are large and white on the inside. Their legs are slender and long, with black hooves pointed anteriorly. Accessory hooves are diminutive. Since the females are larger and do not possess horns, Guenther’s dik-dik are sexually dimorphic. Both sexes have a crest of hair, but the crest of males is typically more brightly colored and longer.
Another distinguishing feature of Guenther’s dik-diks are their elongated snout that can be turned in all directions. Madoqua guentheri can be distinguished from a similar species, Madoqua kirkii, by their longer nose. This snout results in reduced nasal and premaxillary bones. It is thought that their nose is a thermoregulatory device. Arterial blood is diverted to membranes in the snout and, through an evaporative process, is cooled.