Jackal facts for kids
Jackals are canids found in Africa and Asia. They are nocturnalcarnivorous and eat small mammals, birds and reptiles. To hunt, they can run at speeds of 16km/h (10mph).
Jackals are monogamous (each male lives with only one female). A pair defends its territory from other pairs: they mark the territory with urine and feces. The territory may be large enough to hold some young adults who live with their parents until they have their own territory. Sometimes, jackals join small packs, for example to hunt a big animal, but normally they hunt alone or as a pair.
Jackals are not a clade. They have several times developed from canid ancestors. There are four species of jackals:
- Black-backed Jackal (Canis mesomelas) - the common jackal, live in many African habitats;
- Golden Jackal (Canis aureus) - live in northern and central Africa and southern Asia;
- Side-striped Jackal (Canis adustus) - live in central and Southern Africa;
A canid from Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis), is sometimes called simian jackal, but it is really a wolf. The Ethiopian wolf is one of the rarest and most endangered of all canids.
Images for kids
The golden jackal is more closely related to wolves and coyotes than to other jackal species
Black-backed Jackal near Wolfsnes, Western Etosha, Namibia
Jackal Animal – Interesting Facts You Should Know About
There are many animal species in the world and they are all interesting. Oftentimes, you may note that animals that exist on the opposite side of the planet are from the same family, as even those you know quite well. For example, like a household pet or dog. Today, we will be looking at one such, the jackal animal.
They are often found on the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa.
Interesting Facts About The Jackal
For one they are not a large breed animal. They are considered to be of medium-sized and some are smaller. In Swahili, they are called a ‘Bweha.’
Generally, there are three types of jackals. These include:
- Canis mesomelas or Black-backed Jackal
- Canis adustus or Side-striped Jackal
- Canis aureus or Common Jackal
- Oriental Jackals
- Asiatic Jackals
- Golden Jackals
Just as how coyotes are a common breed of animal in the United States and North America, at large, so too is the jackal a common sight in Africa.
The Jackal Animal Description
The three main types of jackals differ in sizes. But, on average, they weigh 15 to 35 pounds and are 70 to 86 centimeters in length. They also get up to 15 – 20 inches high.
A jackal looks similar to your household pet, the dog.
They are great t running for long distance and they maintain a speed of about 10 miles an hour. Their feet have adapted to covering these distances. It has fused leg bones and big feet.
You will find that the Black-backed and the Common Jackals tails are black tipped.
However, the Side-striped has a white tipped tail. It also has white stripes, which run down the length of its body, on its side. Its overall appearance seems duller than the other jackals.
Also, have a sandier colored coat. They are also much heavier and shorter in appearance.
But, the Black-backed Jackal has a rusty colored frame, with silver and black mantle stripes. It stands out and this type of jackal I also more slender with larger eyes
The Habitat Of The Jackal
You will find that this animal prefers to live in the wooded savannas, grassy plains and deserts of the continent on which it resides. Each species has a particular preference.
For example, you will find the Side-striped Jackal in mountains bushland and marshes.
On the other hand, the Black-backed Jackal prefers savannas and woodlands. While the Common Jackal can be found in semi-arid deserts, steppes and deserts.
The Food Preference Of The Jackal
These nocturnal creatures are omnivorous scavengers. You can consider them good hunters because of their curved canine teeth and long legs. They feed on reptiles, amphibians, birds and small mammals.
These smaller sources of food are much easier because they take them out by just biting them on back of the neck. Sometimes, you will see them shake their prey that way as well.
However, when it comes to bigger prey like will hunt with another of its kind. This makes it more likely for them to be able to take down livestock, gazelles and antelopes.
But they do scavenge for carcass as well. Fruits, vegetation and insects are sometimes included in their diet.
If they realize that another animal is in its territory or approaching its meal, they will bury the carcass until later.
On the flipside, the jackal is preyed upon by three other predators. These include the hyena, the leopard and eagles. Eagles have a taste for newborn jackal pups.
The Behavior Pattern Of Most Jackal Animals
When a jackal finds a mate, their relationship tends to be of a monogamous nature. And they are especially fierce when it comes to protecting their territory. However, there are instances when young adults still roam the lands of their parent’s territory, until they have secured one of their own.
Boundaries are generally demarcated by the scent of both males and females.
Animals are nocturnal and they roam more during the night. But, you will more than likely see the diurnal Black-backed Jackal.
For the most part, these animals adapt really well. They adjust to changes in their environment with little trouble.
They make a habit of moving through and checking their territory. When you see these animals trotting, sniffing and smelling what is around them, they are ensuring no other jackal is trespassing in their territory. And yes, they are checking for food as well.
The Communication Of Jackals
If they come upon prey, they can get quite vocal, more so than normal. They use high-pitched howls, growls and noisy yaps. Even when they communicate with each other, they are very vocal.
If you are not a part of their family, a jackal will ignore your attempts to communicate with it.
There is one special jackal, which has a call that mimics the hoot of an owl. This is the Side-striped Jackal.
The Reproduction Of Jackals
There are no relationship issues among the jackal animal clan because they mate for life. These predators find a mate and stick with them for life.
Within two months, a female can give birth to three to six pups, once she has mated.
These young pups tend to weigh about 200 to 250 grams when they are born.
The first two weeks are critical for them because they cannot see. After that time, they will be able to move around somewhat on their home in the thicket.
But, their parents provide regurgitated food. After four months, they are weaned. Jackals mature relatively quickly, within a year or two. By then, they branch out and start their own families.
The little pups stick to the safety of the ticket, though their parents move them around often. This helps to outsmart any predator that might be lurking afoot.
Once their eyes open, they become very playful with their siblings and start to learn hunting tactics from their parents.
They pick up how to mark and watch their territory.
When you watch them play, as pups, they appear clumsy as they are in the beginning phases of developing much-needed skills to make them successful at hunting throughout life.
They run and bump into each other and stumble as they bite, paw and wrestle.
But as they get bigger and stronger, they get better at pouncing, wrestling and ambushing. There is lots of fun to be had when you are chasing your siblings around and playing tug of war.
The Young Jackal Animal Must Branch Out
Though they are fiercely protected by their parents, these animals must leave home at some point. They tend to do so around eight months.
By then, they venture out to seek new territory.
But these animals know how to support each other. When it is needed, they help to keep watch over their parent’s newborns. This sometimes means leaving their territory for a while.
This is one of the best strategies, which they employ, for when it comes to protecting the young, the strength of their pack and helping the little ones to survive.
Overall, a jackal lives for upwards of twelve years.
Just as we have the things that we say to our family members and they understand. The Jackal has a particular yipping sound. Generally, this is only understood by members of their own family.
Take A Safari And Check Out The Jackal
Some of the people who travel to Africa, on vacation, like to take safaris. It is a great way to check out the wildlife and experience the land.
You tend to see animals in the wild and it can be an awe-inspiring experience.
There are many animals to view, but the jackal is special as well.
If you go out on safari, the best time to see them is at night. Because remember they are mostly nocturnal. In Uganda, the Karamajong people call the Side-striped jackals "o loo" because they hoot like owls.
They are opportunists as well. So be safe when you venture out on your trip. Keep all limbs in the vehicle and listen to your guide as you learn and experience this jackal animal.
Enjoy the moment and the wonderous world and existence of the jackal.
Facts About Jackals
Jackals are a type of canine, animals that are related to dogs, coyotes, foxes and wolves. They look like a cross between a German shepherd and a fox. They have the fox's small face, delicate legs and fluffy tail, with the German shepherd's long, alert ears.
Size and description
There are three species of jackal. There's the black-backed jackal; the golden, or common, jackal; and the side-striped jackal. All three species are about the size of domestic dogs. They grow to 27 to 33 inches (70 to 85 centimeters) shoulder to rump, with a tail length of about 10 inches (25 cm).
They stand about 16 inches (40 cm) at the shoulder and weigh 11 to 26 lbs. (5 to 12 kilograms), according to the Animal Diversity Web. (ADW).
The distinguishing characteristics of each species are denoted in their common names, according to the ADW. The black-backed jackal has black hair running from the back of the neck to the tail. The rest of the body is reddish-brown or ginger and the chest is white. Side-striped jackals are light gray to tan with a white stripe from elbow to hip and black side stripes. The golden jackal's coat is usually yellow to pale gold and brown-tipped, but the color can vary with season and region.
Jackals live primarily in Africa, but in different regions.
The black-backed jackal stays mostly in savannas and woodlands. There are two discrete populations. One lives at the southern tip of the continent in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The other is found along the eastern coastline, including Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. The populations are separated by the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, an area with harsh terrain that is difficult to cross.
The side-striped jackal likes it a little on the wetter side. It is found predominantly in tropical Africa and prefers moist savannas, marshes, bushlands and mountains, according to the African Wildlife Federation.
The golden jackal likes it dry, in deserts, open savannas and arid grasslands. It is the northernmost species, living in North and East Africa, as well as southeastern Europe and South Asia to Burma.
Some jackals are social creatures, while others are not. Some live together in small groups called packs, while others live alone or in pairs. Packs typically include around six members.
Jackal pairs do everything together, including eating and sleeping. They are also very territorial and defend their territory as a team. They also hunt together. According to the ADW, jackal pairs who hunt together are three times more likely to get a successful kill than a single jackal.
Jackals are often both diurnal and nocturnal. This means that they are active during dawn, dusk and night. Side-striped jackals are the exception. They are strictly nocturnal.
As omnivores, jackals like to eat both meat and vegetation. Their diet consists of leftovers from other animals' kills, ground-dwelling birds, reptiles, antelopes, fruits, insects, berries and grass. They're not picky, though. They will also eat human trash if something more suitable isn't available. Jackals will even eat decomposing or diseased flesh, according to Animal Planet.
Jackals have one mate for life, and both parents help take care of the young. After a gestation period of 57 to 70 days, the female will give birth to two to four babies in her underground den. They are born with their eyes sealed shut and it take them around 10 days for their eyes to open.
Baby jackals are called pups. Pups eat mother's milk and regurgitated food until they are weaned at 2 months.
Most jackal pup deaths happen before they are 14 weeks old. Many are swooped up by eagles and eaten. To protect her pups, a mother jackal changes her den every two weeks.
Pups start hunting at around 6 months, but mom and dad still take care of them as long as they need it. Jackals become sexually mature at 6 to 11 months of age. Some jackals leave their parents at 11 months. Some stay and babysit, protect and feed their younger siblings. Jackals typically live 10 to 12 years.
Here is the taxonomy for jackals, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS):
Kingdom: Animalia Subkingdom: Bilateria Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Infraphylum: Gnathostomata Superclass: Tetrapoda Class: Mammalia Subclass: Theria Infraclass: Eutheria Order: Carnivora Suborder: Caniformia Family: Canidae Genus: CanisSpecies:
- Canis adustus (side-striped jackal)
- Canis aureus (golden jackal)
- Canis mesomelas (black-backed jackal)
The three species of jackal are not endangered and are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature' Red List of Threatened Species as least concern. This means that their populations are mostly stable and they are found in multiple regions.
Each jackal family has their own yipping sound that only members of their own family respond to.
Side-striped jackals can hoot like owls. Because of this, they are called "o loo" by the Karamajong people of Uganda.
Facts jackal fun
The Golden jackal has long, pointed ears and long hair. The coat of the animal is rather coarse and not very long. The tail is fluffy and long. Being the largest species of jackal, this animal, however, has lighter tread, shorter tail, more slender build and a narrower, more pointed muzzle, compared to other jackal species. The coloration of their fur depends on the season of year and region, varying from yellow to pale gold with a brown tip.
These jackals are widely distributed from North and East Africa to southeastern Europe and South Asia, including Burma. Their preferred habitat is steppe terrains, short and arid grasslands as well as dry, open country.
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Habits and Lifestyle
Living nearby human settlements, Golden jackals are strictly nocturnal. However, those living in other areas can be partly diurnal. The main social unit of these animals is a mated pair as well as a family, consisting of a mated pair and its young. Living in pairs, the jackals share most of their activity with the partners. Their behavior is strictly synchronized: they forage, hunt and rest together. As a matter of fact, hunting in pairs, they are three times more successful, than hunting alone. Jackal families hunt on a territory of about 2-3 sq. km. all year round. Looking for shelter, they frequently use caverns, dug by other animals. Golden jackals can also dig caverns themselves as well as use crevices in rocks. They are very friendly to their partners. Scratching one another all over their bodies is a common activity between mates. Nevertheless, once strange jackals encounter each other, their behavior shows subordination, domination and even readiness to attack.
Diet and Nutrition
Golden jackals are omnivores. These opportunistic foragers have a rather diverse diet. They feed on a wide variety of animal species such as young gazelles, hares, reptiles, ground birds and their eggs, fish frogs as well as insects. The usual diet Golden jackals also includes various fruits. During the winter months, they frequently eat rodents. In addition, they can consume carrion.
starts in early February and lasts around 26-28 days
Golden jackals have monogamous mating system with females, fiercely defending the territory from other females. Thus they try to restrict access of female intruders to the male, not sharing him and preventing his paternal investment. Usually, a jackal family contains one or two adult individuals called "helpers". These are the ones, who, reaching sexual maturity, continue living with the parents for about a year. They do not breed and help the parents in rearing the next litter. Breeding season takes place in the beginning of February or in the end of January (if the weather is warm enough), lasting about 26-28 days. After the gestation period of 63 days, the female gives birth in a den within the pair's territory. One litter can yield 1-9 babies, with an average of 2-4 pups. The female nurses the young for about 8 weeks, after which they are weaned. Females reach sexual maturity during the first year of their lives while male jackals become sexually mature within two years.
One of the serious concerns to their population is diseases. Rabies and distemper, for example, occasionally cause high numbers of mortality among these animals. On the other hand, they are hunted and persecuted as livestock predators and pests. However, the major threat is the alteration of traditional land use practices. Some parts of their habitat are presently turning to industrial areas and agricultural lands, which leads to reduction of cover and food shortages.
Golden jackals are common and widespread, found in large numbers throughout the area of their range. The overall number of their population is presently unknown but increasing. In India, for example, specific populations of Golden jackals are estimated to be about 80,000 individuals. On the IUCN Red List, the species is classified as Least Concern (LC).
Golden jackals are key scavengers in their home range. They consume garbage and carrion around villages and towns. Also, they control numbers of prey populations. Thus, they benefit agriculture, feeding upon rodents and lagomorphs.
Fun Facts for Kids
- They use vocalizations as a form of communication with other jackals of the community. Thus, when a prey is located, they usually emit yelling or yapping sound.
- Golden jackals are exceptional hunters, but they are able to survive in the absence of prey, feeding solely upon the grass.
- In order to protect the pups from predators, female jackal changes the location of the den every two weeks.
- Golden jackals can be tamed. Usually, tamed jackals, living in houses, have a behavior of a domesticated dog. However, they are still shy towards strangers, not allowing to caress them.
- 54% of their diet has an animal origin and 46% - plant origin.
- Choral howling of Golden jackals is a form of affiance, by which the pair demonstrates the bond between them.
Jackals have never really made the safari A list. Derided in Kipling’s Jungle Book as ‘dish-lickers’, they seldom get the attention they deserve on a Big Five safari. Yet in many areas, these are the most abundant of the mammalian carnivores and the closer you look, the more compelling they become. The black-backed jackal (Canis Mesomelas) species – named for the dark, white-flecked ‘saddle’ on its back – is one of three species in Africa. It occurs in two separate populations: one in East Africa, from Ethiopia south to Central Tanzania, and another in Southern Africa, from the Cape north to Zimbabwe. Versatile and resourceful, it is equally at home in the Drakensberg Mountains and the Namib Desert.
5 Fascinating facts:
- Black-backed jackals are highly vocal. Best known for their high wailing calls – often given in the early evening, when one individual answers another until an unearthly chorus builds up – they also utter a repeated yapping when tailing a predator; a call that sometimes betrays an irritated lion or leopard.
- Fossil deposits have revealed that the black-backed jackal is one of the oldest known dog species. It has remained pretty much unchanged since the Pleistocene epoch, up to 2.5 million years ago.
- Like all jackals, this species forms monogamous, life-long pair bonds. What’s more, youngsters from one year’s litter often act as ‘helpers’, suppressing their own breeding ambitions and remaining with their parents for a year or more in order to help them raise the next litter. This habit is known to have a greater bearing on pup survival rates in black-backed jackals, than in any other jackal species.
- Black-backed jackals are among the most significant vectors of rabies in southern Africa. They have been associated with epidemics, which appear in four- to eight-year cycles.
- In the folklore of the indigenous Khoikhoi people of south-western Africa, the black-backed jackal often travels in tandem with the lion, which it frequently outsmarts or betrays using its superior intelligence.
5 Fascinating Facts About ...
Mike is an award winning wildlife writer, editor of Travel Zambia magazine and author of the Bradt Guide to Southern African Wildlife.More from this Author
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They usually live singly or in pairs but are occasionally found in loose packs of related individuals where their behavior is highly synchronized. They are among the few mammalian species in which the male and female mate for life. Mated pairs are territorial, and both the female and male mark and defend their territory.
Litters average two to four pups. It takes about ten days for the infants' eyes to open, and for the first few weeks of life, they remain in the thickets or holes where they were born. At about three weeks old, they begin to spend time outside playing with their littermates. At first, the games are clumsy attempts at wrestling, pawing, and biting. As they become more coordinated, they ambush and pounce, play tug of war, and chase each other. The mother changes den sites about every two weeks, so the young are less likely to be found by predators.
Jackal pups are suckled and fed regurgitated food until they are about two months old. By six months, they are hunting on their own.
Sometimes pups will stay with their parents and help raise their younger siblings. Most jackal pup deaths occur during the first 14 weeks of life, so the presence of helpers increases the survival rate.