Jackals are native to Southeastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. Jackals are omnivores. They hunt small mammals, bird, reptiles and amphibians, scavenge from kills made by larger animals, and will eat insects, fruit and plants. This makes them very adaptable. Jackals also hunt cooperatively—some packs will take down a larger animal like a gazelle.
Jackals are territorial and mark and defend their territory. They are very vocal and make calls specific to their family. Jackals yip, howl, growl. Side-striped jackals however have an "owl-like hoot" rather than a howl.
Golden Jackals live the farthest north of all jackals. They can be found in all the regions above and prefer dry open, grassy plains and steppes. Around humans, Golden Jackals are usually nocturnal. Golden Jackals range from 17 to 22 pounds.
There are two others species of Jackal found in Africa. The Side-striped Jackal likes dense undergrowth near waterways. They are the largest of the jackals at 15 to 26 pounds. The Black-backed Jackal (pictured) is usually the one most frequently seen. They weigh from 11 to 22 pounds at maturity.
Jackals usually bear 2-4 pups, though can birth up to 9. Older siblings, who have stayed with the parents, will help raise these blind newborns. Pups get their sight in about ten days. Golden Jackals dig a den, or make one in a rock crevasse or cave, or where another animal has had a den. Black-backed Jackals prefer abandoned ant bear dens with multiple exits.
Fun Jackal Facts
- Jackals mate for life.
- The Egyptian god Anubis was depicted as a man with the head of a jackal.
- Jackals kill small prey with a bite at the back of the neck. They may also shake the animal.
- The Golden Jackal is also called the Asiatic, Oriental or Common Jackal.
- There are 13 subspecies of Golden Jackal.
African Wildlife Foundation