Jackals are members of the canine family, just like wolves and dogs. They’re native to southeastern Europe, Asia and Africa. There are three main species of jackals. The first is the golden jackal, the second is the side-striped jackal and the third is the black backed jackal. Take a look below for 27 more interesting and bizarre facts about jackals.
1. Golden jackals live in open savannas, deserts and arid grasslands.
2. Side striped jackals inhabit savannas, marshes, bushlands and mountains.
3. The black backed jackals, which are sometimes called silver backed jackals, inhabit savannas and woodlands.
4. On average, wild jackals live between 8 and 10 years. Captive jackals tend to live up to 16 years due to better living conditions and no predators.
5. They vary in size and color depending on the species. On average, they grow up to between 38 and 51 centimeters, or 15 and 20 inches, in height when measured at the shoulder. They will grow up to between 70 and 86 centimeters, or 27 and 34 inches, in length and they will weigh between 7 and 16 kilograms, or 15 and 35 pounds.
6. Their body is covered with a golden or silver colored black fur. They’re known for having bushy tails.
7. They have long legs and curved canine teeth, which makes them well adapted for hunting. They have large feet and fused leg bones, which gives them a good body for long distance running. They’re capable of running at speeds of 16 kilometers, or 9.9 miles, per hour for extended periods of time.
8. Jackals are nocturnal animals, which means that they’re most active during the night. During the day, they will conceal themselves in brushes or thickets and wait until dusk to hunt.
9. They’re known as opportunistic omnivores, which means that their diet is both plant and animal based. Their diet consists of small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, scavenged kills made by larger animals, insects, fruits and plants.
10. They’re territorial and monogamous pairs will fiercely defend their territory from other animals.
11. They live in pairs, or sometimes, in small packs. Living in a pack ensures some protection against predators and an easier time in hunting larger prey. However, their most common social unit is a monogamous pair.
12. Jackals communicate with each other using loud yells or yaps, growls and high pitched howls. They communicate the most when they find prey.
13. Female jackals gestate for 8 to 9 weeks, after which a litter of 2 to 4 pups is born. Pups are usually hidden in underground dens, rock crevices or caves. The female jackal will change the location of the den every 2 weeks, to try and prevent large predators for sniffing out her pups.
14. The jackal pups are suckled and fed regurgitated food until they’re 2 months old. By the third month, they no longer use the den and start to follow their parents, learning how to defend their territory and how to hunt. By the sixth month, they’re hunting on their own.
15. Some jackal pups will stay with their parents to help raise newborn pups. They will bring back food to their younger siblings or babysit them while the parents hunt for food.
17. The Ethiopian wolf has sometimes been regarded as a jackal due to its size and shape, which is why it’s been called the “red jackal” or the “Simien jackal.”
19. The jackal is mentioned about 14 times in the Bible. It’s used a literary device to illustrate desolation, loneliness and abandonment, with reference to its habit of living in the ruins of former cities and other areas that have been abandoned by humans.
20. Jackals have long been the subject of superstition about death and evil spirits.
21. Ancient Egyptians believed that the jackal headed god, Anubis, guided the dead to those who judged their souls.
22. The Serer religion and creation myth states that the jackal was one of the first animals created by Roog, the supreme deity of the Serer people.
23. In India and Pakistan, the jackal is often compared to a lion in terms of courage. One famous saying from the region is, “One day life of a lion is better than a hundred years life of a jackal.” The quote comes from Tipu Sultan.
24. The three species of jackals are not endangered and are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species as least concern.
25. Each jackal family has their own yipping sound that only other members of their own family respond to.
26. Side striped jackals can hoot like owls. Due to this, they’re called “o loo” by the Karamojong people of Uganda.
27. In Bengali tantrik traditions, jackals are considered as representative of Goddess Kali. It’s said that the goddess appears as a jackal when meat is offered to her.