Where do jackals live?
The golden, or common, jackal lives in open savannas, deserts, and arid grasslands. Side-striped jackals are found in moist savannas, marshes, bushlands, and mountains. The black-backed—also called sliver-backed—jackal lives primarily in savannas and woodlands.
Tags: Kenya, Niger, Tanzania, East Africa, West/Central Africa, Kilimanjaro, Regional Parc W, Samburu, Virunga, Jackal
View Africa | Habitat
What is a jackal?
The three jackal species differ mainly in color and choice of habitat. The sandy-colored golden jackal prefers open, grassy plains, while the side-striped jackal lives along waterways with dense undergrowth. This jackal is drabber in color, has a white tip on the tail, and had indistinct stripes along the sides of the body. The black-backed jackal is recognized by the mantle of black hair on the back that contrasts with the rust-colored body. The tail is black-tipped, as is that of the golden jackal. The black-blacked jackal is usually the most frequently seen, as it is more diurnal than the other two species.
Jackals are cooperative, cunning hunters.
Jackals can best be described as opportunistic omnivores. They cooperatively hunt small antelopes and also eat reptiles, insects, ground-dwelling birds, fruits, berries, and grass. They will pick over kills made by large carnivores and even frequent rubbish dumps in pursuit of food.
They have family values.
Jackals usually live singly or in pairs but are occasionally found in loose packs of related individuals. They are among the few mammalian species in which the male and female mate for life. Mated pairs are territorial, and both the female and male mark and defend their territory.
Litters average 2 to 4 pups. It takes about 10 days for the infants' eyes to open, and for the first few weeks of life, they remain in the thickets or holes where they were born. At about 3 weeks old, they begin to spend time outside playing with their littermates. At first, the games are clumsy attempts at wrestling, pawing, and biting. As they become more coordinated, they ambush and pounce, play tug of war, and chase each other. The mother changes den sites about every 2 weeks, so the young are less likely to be found by predators.
The pups are suckled and fed regurgitated food until they are about 2 months old. By 3 months, they no longer use the den but start to follow their parents, slowly learning the territory and observing hunting behavior. By 6 months, they are hunting on their own. Their parents, however, continue to feed, groom, and play with them.Jackal pups are roped into baby-sitting younger siblings.
Sometimes pups will stay with their parents and help raise their younger siblings. Most pup deaths occur during the first 14 weeks of life, so the presence of helpers increases the survival rate.