An Ultimate Ungulate Fact SheetReturn to Artiodactyla

Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Mammalia
      Order: Artiodactyla
        Family: Bovidae
          Subfamily: Antilopinae
            Genus: Neotragus

Neotragus moschatus

      Suni antelope


Neotragus moschatus [Von Dueben, 1846].  
Citation: In Sundevall, Ofv. K. Svenska Vet.-Akad. Forhandl., Stockholm, 3(7):221.
Type locality: Tanzania, Chapani Isl., 2 mi. (3 km) from Zanzibar.

Click on the pictures above for a larger view of the photographs

General Characteristics

Body Length: 57-62 cm / 1.9-2 ft.
Shoulder Height: 33-38 cm / 13-15 in.
Tail Length: 8-13 cm / 3.2-5.2 in.
Weight: 4-6 kg / 9-13 lb.

The general coat colour is reddish brown, with the back darker than the flanks and legs, and the head and muzzle reddish.  The underparts, including the chin, throat, and insides of the legs, are white.  There is a lighter ring around the eye.  The legs are ringed with a black band just above the hooves.  The wideset, black-coloured horns, borne only by males, are ridged for most of their length, and grow 6.5-13.3 cm / 2.6-5.3 inches long, slanting back in line with the face.

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Gestation Period: About 6 months.
Young per Birth: 1
Weaning: About 2 months.
Sexual Maturity: 1-1.5 years.
Life span: Up to 10 years.

Most births occur from November to March.  Slightly darker than adults, the young are kept hidden.

Ecology and Behavior

The suni is primarily active during the evening and night, sleeping the rest of the day in a shady, sheltered area.  These shy antelope have excellent camouflage, which they use to their advantage.  When danger starts to approach, the suni freezes, remaining hidden until the threat is nearly on top of them, at which point it leaps up and dodges around bushes and shrubs, quickly vanishing into the undergrowth.  Males defend territories of about 3 hectares, scent-marking the boundaries with preorbital gland secretions.  On the peripheries of each defended area may be individual or communal dung piles.  Each male generally associates with a single female, even if several others share his territory.  Weak barking and sharp whistling have been reported.

Family group: Pairs or small groups of a single male and a few females.
Diet: Leaves, buds, shoots, fungi, fruits, rarely grasses.
Main Predators: All predators the size of the suni and up, including cats, birds of prey, and snakes.


Dry country with dense, tangled underbrush in southeastern Africa.

Range Map (Redrawn from IEA, 1998)

Conservation Status

The suni is classified as a low risk, conservation dependent species by the IUCN (1996).


Suni is a native name from south-eastern Africa.  Neos (Greek) new; tragos (Greek) a he-goat: when the genus was formed in 1827, its recent members were thought to be new kinds of antelope.  Moschatus (New Latin) musky: the preorbital glands produce a musky secretion, and the body has a general pungent smell.

Literature Cited

IEA (Institute of Applied Ecology).  1998.  Neotragus moschatus.  In African Mammals Databank - A Databank for the Conservation and Management of the African Mammals Vol 1 and 2. Bruxelles: European Commission Directorate. Available online at

Kingdon, J. 1997. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals.  Academic Press, London and New York: NaturalWorld.

Nowak, R. M. [editor]. 1991.  Walker's Mammals of the World (Fifth Edition).  Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Walther, F. R.  1990.  Duikers and Dwarf Antelopes.  In Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals.  Edited by S. P. Parker.  New York: McGraw-Hill.  pp. 325-343

Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder [editors]. 1993. Mammal Species of the World (Second Edition). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Available online at

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© Brent Huffman,
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