10 Surprising Things You Should Know About Jackal

10 Surprising Things You Should Know About Jackal

Black-backed jackal, Canis mesomelas, a young one playing with a root as a puppy plays with a ball at Rietvlei Nature Reserve, Gauteng, South Africa

Photo by Derek Keats

“When the tiger kills, the jackals profit”, this old proverb portrays jackal in a very poor light as being nothing more than a scavenger. They are, in fact, very fascinating creatures that will engage you ever more once you start knowing about their interesting life. So, to learn more about them, here are some things that you should know about jackals.

  • The jackal is a medium sized animal of the dog family, originally found in Africa, Asia and southeast Europe. There are 4 main species of jackal family. The golden jackal is the most northerly species of jackals that lives in Burma in Southeast Asia.
  • The jackal is a nocturnal animal that can easily maintain speeds of 17 km an hour for long periods of time. Even though the jackal belongs to a jackal pack, jackals often like to hunt alone or with only one other jackal. This means that their team of 2 animals has a higher chance of ambushing their prey, than hunting in large groups, where the jackals would have less success in being silent and stealthy.
  • Jackals are small canines that eat reptiles, small mammals or birds. Some species of jackal have been known to eat even poisonous snakes. Jackals are carnivorous animals and they will often scavenge the remains of killed animals made by other larger predators.
  • Jackals live in crevices in dens and rocks made by other animals in order to keep them cool while they sleep. Even though many of them are nocturnal animals, particularly those jackals that inhabit areas close to people, some of them in more remote areas are slightly more diurnal and may be out hunting during the cooler times of the day.
  • Jackals are very territorial animals; each member of their group marks its boundaries with urine.  Fights with intruders are rare; they are usually warned off but if needed, they have no hesitation in defending their marked territory. 
  • Yearlings or the little grown up pups take care of the baby jackals. Most pup deaths happen during the first 3, 5 months of birth and therefore it is needed to get a guardian’s help in order to increase their survival rate.
  • According to the traits ingrained in jackals’ behavior, they make interesting and varying sounds. These sounds are specific to each jackal family. That means it is rare for different jackal families to come into accidental contact with one another. 
  • The infant jackal is nurtured by its mother until the age of 2 months. When the young one reaches 6 months, it becomes ready to hunt on its own.
  • Leopards, eagles, and hyenas are their most common predators. Eagles are known to prey on pups.

JackalPhoto by Jean & Nathalie

  • Even though, some jackals may form small groups, especially while scavenging for food, they are usually either paired up with a mate or live solitary life.  In fact, the jackal is one of the few mammal species that mate for life with their partner.