Golden jackal (Canis aureus)

Golden Jackal is a medium sized jackal from Canidae family, known by different other names like Asiatic Jackal, common jackal and gold-wolf. It is a native to parts of Africa, central Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. It is more linked with the coyotes and grey wolves instead of other jackal species. It is highly opportunistic when it comes to feeding. Several mentions of this jackal have been made in ancient texts in India and Egypt.

Golden jackal (Canis aureus) Scientific Classification

Animalia
Chordata
Mammalia
Carnivora
Canidae
Canis
Canis aureus

Table Of Content

Scientific Classification

Golden jackal (Canis aureus)

Animalia
Chordata
Mammalia
Carnivora
Canidae
Canis
Canis aureus

Description

Some of the bodily attributes of golden jackal are:

Size

Length of the adults ranges between 70 and 85 cm, with a shoulder height between 44 and 50 cm.

Weight

Females are lighter with weight between 7 and 11 kg in contrast to the males who weigh around 6 and 13 kg.

Golden jackal Picture

Golden jackal

Color

Fur color may vary, according to seasons. Overall, they appear golden or yellowish with the fur ranging from creamy to yellowish-brown shades. It has a back which is spotted with black, white as well as brown but ears, limbs and head are reddish brown in color.

Looks

It has a bushy short tail and long legs. The tip of the tail is black and this feature sets it apart from the other species of jackals.

Range

Golden Jackals are distributed over a huge range in Africa, Europe, central Asia and Indian subcontinent. From Senegal to Egypt, northeastern and northern Africa has a large population of these animals. In Europe its range comprises parts of Ukraine along with Hungary Slovakia, Austria and Balkans. A significant rise in the number of jackals in Italy can also be noticed. Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, India, Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka have fair distributions.

Habitat

In the biomes inhabited by the golden jackals, construction of dens differs from one place to another. They prefer making dens in dense shrubs or leveled grounds including slopes. These burrows are almost 2 meters long, having a depth of more than 1 meter. In some areas, they are made in roots of trees and cavities of uprooted trees. They keep these hidden on the banks of rivers, below huge rocks.

Behavior

Some of their Hunting/eating behaviors are:

  • In Transcaucasia, jackals forming a pack of more than 10 members have been found to hunt together during summers.
  • It is cautious during solitary hunting spree, when it sniffs and carefully follows sounds to spot its prey.
  • After finding a prey, it doesn’t pounce directly, but first hides itself and then suddenly attacks.
  • While on prowl for water fowl or rodents, they chase their prey along the narrow streams by continuously following it from both the sides.
  • It generally kills smaller victims by shaking it but for bigger ones, instead of killing them it slits open its belly.
  • They have a weird habit of hoarding their food when it is in excess, which happens most of the time.
  • It even raids dung piles to hunt for dung beetles, while on insect hunting spree.
  • They are also able to catch flying insects by jumping in the air.
  • They are intimidated by lions but can scare or dominate smaller victims and even vultures by depriving them of their kill.
  • It is a known fact that they hunt and feed with some animal species, like spotted hyenas but from a safe distance.
  • On being thrown out of a pack, they might form a commensal relation with a tiger wherein it benefits from the kills of the tiger.
  • Golden jackals are great trackers and attackers of prey, for which they a sometimes followed by spotted hyenas.

Other behavioral traits include:

  • Greeting behavior comprises playful biting of neck and face.
  • This jackal usually is found with a partner but those in families comprising 4 to 5 members or living single are also common.
  • They signify their territorial range by scent marking, which is common in other animals as well.
  • Apart from making their own den, they often choose to inhabit dens and burrows abandoned by foxes or other animals.
  • Howling in chorus is a common feature amongst them as it strengthens ties among them.
  • They shed their fur around two times in a year, during autumn and spring.

Diet

Diet of these animals is based on seasons and region they are living in. In India, they survive largely on birds, rodents, fruits and reptiles. Ducks, moorhens, hares, pheasants and rodents that look like mouse are being fed upon in the Caucasus region and south of it. A varied diet of fruits which include watermelons, pears, muskmelons, nets and many others is also consumed in these areas. Roots and bulbs of plants are also eaten in some areas close to the Vaksh River. Its feeding pattern changes in the Karakum Desert, where it hunts for snakes, lizards, muskrats and gerbils. Hence it is understandable how they survive on a variety of food as per their availability.

Pictures of Golden jackal

Golden jackal Picture

Sounds

They emit sounds like that of the dogs. 7 types of sounds have been noted so far which is a characteristic mark of the subspecies. It resorts to long howls for calling each other and also on hearing sirens and sounds of church bells. Vocalizations are prominent in the evenings, afternoons and dawns. The leader of the pack emits a distinctive sound ‘okkay’ while initiating an attack.

Adaptation

It takes advantage of its flexible body and long legs for hunting and traveling with ease over several kilometers.

Reproduction

They practice monogamy, which implies that they remain loyal to their partners. For giving birth to babies, they mark a given territory and safeguard it from the predators. The female undergoes around 63 days of incubation to give birth to the pups in the den made underneath the earth.

Life Cycle

When the pups are born, they have to wait for almost 10 days to see. Complete weaning occurs in the next 4 months, after which it attains the hue of the adults and a dark fur coat. They put up with the adults till the age of 2. By the time they reproduce their own, they help in raising the other litters born during that time.

Life Span

In captivity, their life span might be 15 to 16 years but in the wild, it might be of around 8 years.

Sub-species

Around 12 sub-species of this animal have been reported to exist.

As Pets

The pups can be easily tamed and raised.

Housing
Golden jackal can be kept in enclosures.

Feeding

It can be fed with rodents, fruits and dead animals.

Images of Golden jackal

Golden jackal Image

 Care

They can be cared like a pet dog.

Predator

Apart from wild predators like leopards and wolves, they face enormous threats from habitat destruction and humans. In the presence of predators, they even have to strive to acquire food. Nevertheless, rabies and diseases are also common threats to their lives.

Conservation Status

According to IUCN Redlist, this species of jackal is not endangered but listed under Least Concern animals.

Interesting Facts

Some fun facts that kids love to know about them are:

  • It can overpower animals that are three times heavier than them.
  • Golden Jackal’s facial structure, tooth and skull structure show wolf like features.
  • If it attacks a bigger prey, it slashes its belly and eats the organs.
  • It can eat a snake alive, starting from the tail.
  • As per reports, an Ethiopian wolf was adopted by a pack of these jackals.
  • In India, jackals dismissed from the packs are called kol-bahl.
  • Anubis, the Ancient god of Egyptians was shown as a jackal or a man with a jackal’s head, bearing significance in their lives.
  • It is associated with Hindu gods and has been variedly depicted in literature and images.
  • Folklores from India and in several ancient texts like the Jatakas, tales were told related to these jackals that were represented as cunning animals.
  • Some times on being caught they would act like dead, to escape the plight.
  • They can even mate with dogs and reproduce.
  • It even has a horn like structure which is hidden under the fur.

Pictures

See how the Golden jackal looks in the pictures listed here.

Photos of Golden jackal

Golden jackal Photo

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