STATUS IN THE WILD: Least Concern
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
The blue duiker is one of the smallest duikers in the world. It is usually brown or gray in coloration, with a bluish sheen along the back. The under parts of the body and tail are white, which allows light to reflect off the dark floor. This can make the tail look like lights are flashing off and on. Blue duikers have large eyes, small ears, and a wide mouth that helps them feed on larger fruits. All duikers have a great sense of smell and possess large, slit-like pre-orbital glands in front of the eyes, which are used for scent marking.
Like other duikers, this antelope has a stocky body, large hindquarters, an arched back, and short slender legs. This body type is great for movement in the dense undergrowth. The name “duiker” comes from an Afrikaans word meaning “diver”, which explains how they dive into the bushes for cover when disturbed. This diving is usually followed by a loud sneezing whistle by the male. The males and females can both have small horns; however, the female’s horns are typically smaller and usually hidden by the shape of their head. Females may be slightly larger than males in body size.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
Blue duikers are most active at dawn and dusk, when they go foraging for fruits and leaves. This term is known as crepuscular. They are monogamous, with pairs mating for life and living in a small territory. They defend their area from other blue duikers and constantly scent mark the area to warn others.
Breeding occurs year round, with a single young being born after gestation between one hundred ninety to two hundred twenty days, but twins can sometimes occur. The babies are able to run within half an hour of being born and will usually stay hidden in the undergrowth for the first few weeks of life. The young are weaned around five months of age and are sexually mature around one year of age, at which point the parents drive them away from the area. The females reach sexual maturity slightly faster than the males.
They are found in all areas of central and southern Africa.
Blue duikers prefer various types of forested habitats. They are very adaptable and can survive even if the habitat is disturbed or somewhat suburban, as long as there is sufficient cover to hide and graze in.
These animals are omnivorous, but most of their diet includes fruits, nuts, and seeds. They will also eat leaves, flowers, fungi, insects, and eggs and have been known to eat the fallen fruits from monkey troops in the trees.