Common Jackal) Canis aureus
With a body length of up to
3-1/2 feet, not including a tail of up to 12
inches, height of 16 inches at the shoulders, and
weight of 33 pounds, this is the largest of all
jackals. It has long legs and a long, pointed
muzzle. The coat is usually yellow to pale
gold and brown-tipped, but the color can vary
with season and region. The golden jackal can be
distinguished from other jackal species by the
black tip to the tail.
Distribution and Habitat
The only jackal outside of sub-Saharan Africa,
the golden jackal ranges across North and East
Africa, Southeastern Europe, and South Asia to
Burma. Although it prefers dry open country, arid
short grasslands, and steppe landscapes, it can
be found in a variety of habitats.
Habits and Behaviors
The basic social unit of the golden jackal is
a mated pair or a mated pair and its young.
Golden jackal pairs forage, hunt, and rest
together. Members of the same family also
cooperate in sharing larger food items and
transport food in their stomachs for later
regurgitation to pups or to a lactating mother.
Hunting families hold territories of about a
square mile throughout the year, portions of
which are marked with urine, either by the male
or the female jackal, to ward off intruders.
jackals are strictly nocturnal in areas inhabited
by humans, but may be partly diurnal elsewhere.
They dig caverns for shelter, or use crevices in
rocks, or caverns that were dug by other animals.
A very vocal
species, golden jackals use a variety of barking,
growling, cackling, and whining calls. The most
distinctive is a high-pitched, wailing howl,
often given in chorus at dawn and dusk, and
thought to reinforce family bonds and/or
advertise territory ownership.
Golden jackals are opportunistic foragers with
a very varied diet, which consists of young
gazelles, rodents, (especially during winter),
hares, ground birds and their eggs, reptiles,
frogs, fish, insects and fruit. They also take
part in the kills of larger animals, such as
those of the lion, and will readily move in on
the carcass as soon as the original predator
walks away. Should other animals arrive at the
scene, the jackals bury their pieces of meat.
Around humans, they scavenge in garbage,
searching out scraps of food, and may prey on
small or newborn livestock.
Mating pairs are strictly monogamous. Births
occur mainly in January-February in East Africa
and in April-May in Southeast Europe, but take
place throughout the year in tropical Asia.
The gestation period is 63 days. Young are
born in a den within the parents' marked
territory. Litters can contain one to nine pups,
but two to four is the usual number. Pups' eyes
open after about ten days. The pups are nursed
for about eight weeks, and then weaned. The young
are fed by regurgitation and begin to take some
solid food at about three months. Sexual maturity
comes at eleven months, but the young typically
remain with the adults for up to two years,
during which time they help feed and guard the
next litter of pups.
genus & species Canis aureau
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Canis_aureus/
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