Behavior

Most neotragines are solitary, but some are found more often in pairs or small groups of three to five animals (up to

Kirk's dikdiks (Madoqua kirkii) are skittish, and flee in a zig-zag pattern. (Photo by Ann & Steve Toon Wildlife Photography. Reproduced by permission.)

12). All are nonmigratory and nearly all are territorial or defend exclusive home ranges. Defense of a territory often, but not always, involves scent marking with feces and urine placed on conspicuous dung middens, as well as the careful placement of secretions of the preorbital and other glands. Scent marking can occupy more time than feeding in the life of many neotragines and some species mark as many as 45 times per hour. Males commonly engage in battles over territory ownership, dominance, and females, but these fights only rarely involve contact between the combatants and instead are built around threats. Threats are signaled through postures, vocalizations, and also with aggression towards inanimate objects such as bushes. Fights that escalate to contact between males commonly result in the wounding of one or both combatants.

The neotragines are best known for their reliance on olfactory communication, but they also display a range of vocalizations. The most commonly encountered of these is the alarm whistle. This shrill whistle varies in structure and tone but some form of it is used by most species in this group to alert conspecifics (those of the same species) to the presence of a potential threat. Other vocalizations include barks, bleats,

Richardson/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.)
Kirk's dikdik (Madoqua kirki) watches for predators. (Photo by Joe McDonald. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

mews, and at least two species have been observed to emit a strangely human-sounding scream on being captured.

Daily activity patterns are linked closely to environmental conditions. In hot, dry climates or during the dry season in variable environments, animals are crepuscular and nocturnal. Avoiding the midday heat is essential to maintaining water balance, and animals in extreme environments will seek out cooler, shaded areas and remain inactive for hours. In more temperate areas, animals are active at various times both day and night.

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