This species has a brown back, rufous chest, and pale belly. As usual for buttonquails but not for most birds, the female is larger and brighter than the male. This species is shy and difficult to flush.
Most of the range is occupied by the subspecies T. h. nanus, which has brown irides and a black rump, and is sometimes split into a distinct species. The nominate subspecies, T. h. hottentottus, the Hottentot buttonquail, which is confined to coastal fynbos in South Africa, has pale irides and a paler rump.
- Madge and McGowan, Pheasants, Partridges and Grouse ISBN 0-7136-3966-0
- Sinclair, Ian; Hockey, Phil and Tarboton, Warwick (2002). SASOL Birds of Southern Africa. Struik. ISBN 1-86872-721-1.
- Black-rumped buttonquail - Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds.