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Jackal: Wikis


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A Black-backed Jackal in Cape Cross, Namibia
Side-striped Jackal
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Canis
in part

Golden Jackal, Canis aureus
Side-striped Jackal Canis adustus
Black-backed Jackal Canis mesomelas

A jackal is a member of any of three (sometimes four) small to medium-sized species of the family Canidae, found in Africa, Asia, and southeastern Europe.[1] Jackals fill a similar ecological niche to the Coyote (sometimes called the American Jackal) in North America, that of predators of small to medium-sized animals, scavengers, and omnivores. Their long legs and curved canine teeth are adapted for hunting small mammals, birds and reptiles. Big feet and fused leg bones give them a long-distance runner's physique, capable of maintaining speeds of 16 km/h (9.9 mph) for extended periods of time. They are crepuscular, most active at dawn and dusk.

In jackal society the social unit is that of a monogamous pair which defends its territory from other pairs. These territories are defended by vigorously chasing intruding rivals and marking landmarks around the territory with urine and feces. The territory may be large enough to hold some young adults who stay with their parents until they establish their own territory. Jackals may occasionally assemble in small packs, for example to scavenge a carcass, but normally hunt alone or as a pair.



The English word "jackal" derives from Turkish çakal, via Persian shaghal, ultimately from Sanskrit sṛgālaḥ.[2][3]

Taxonomy and relationships

In 1816 in the third volume of Lorenz Oken’s Lehrbuch der Naturgeschichte, the author found sufficient similarities in the dentition of jackals and the North American coyotes to place these species into a new separate genus Thos after the classical Greek word θώς=. Oken’s idiosyncratic nomenclatorial ways however, aroused the scorn of a number of zoological systematists. Nearly all the descriptive words used to justify the genus division were relative terms without a reference measure and that the argument did not take into account the size differences between the species which can be considerable. Angel Cabrera, in his 1932 monograph on the mammals of Morocco, briefly touched upon the question whether or not the presence of a cingulum on the upper molars of the jackals and its corresponding absence in the rest of Canis could justify a subdivision of the genus Canis. In practice, he chose the undivided-genus alternative and referred to the jackals as Canis.

Oken’s Thos theory had little immediate impact on taxonomy and/or taxonomic nomenclature, though it was revived in 1914 by Edmund Heller who embraced the new genus theory. Heller’s name and the designations he gave to various jackal species and subspecies live on, though the genus has been changed from Thos to Canis.[4]

Modern research has clarified the relationships between the "jackal" species. Despite their outward similarity, they are not all closely related to one another. The Side-striped Jackal and Black-backed Jackal are close to each other, but separated from the other African and Eurasian wild dogs and wolves by some six or seven mya. The Golden Jackal and Ethiopian Wolf are part of a group also including the Grey Wolf, domestic dog and Coyote[5]. Breeding experiments in Germany with poodles, jackals, and later on with the resulting hybrids showed that unlike wolfdogs, jackal-dog hybrids show a decrease in fertility, significant communication problems as well as an increase of genetic disorders after three generations of interbreeding, much like coydogs.[6]

Species Trinomial authority Description Range
Side-striped jackal
Canis adustus
Side-striped Jackal.jpg
Sundevall, 1847 Central and southern Africa
Golden jackal
Canis aureus
Golden jackal small.jpg
Linnaeus, 1758 The heaviest of the jackals, and the only species to occur outside of Africa. Although often grouped with the other jackals , genetic and morphological research indicates that the golden jackal is more closely related to the gray wolf and the coyote.[7][8] Northern Africa, Southeastern Europe, the Middle East, Western Asia, and South Asia
Black-backed jackal
Canis mesomelas

Canis mesomelas.jpg

Schreber, 1775 The most lightly built of the jackals, and is considered the oldest living member of the genus Canis.[9] It is the most aggressive of the jackals, having been known to singly attack animals many times its own weight, and has more quarrelsome intra-pack relationships[10] Southern Africa and eastern coast of Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia

The Ethiopian Wolf (Ruppell, 1840) of the Ethiopian Highlands has at times been regarded as a jackal, and then called the Red or Simian Jackal, but is now usually regarded as a wolf.

Use in slang

The popular, although rather inaccurate image of jackals is as scavengers, and this has resulted in a somewhat negative image.

  • The expression "jackalling" is sometimes used to describe the work done by a subordinate in order to save the time of a superior. (For example, a junior lawyer may peruse large quantities of material on behalf of a barrister). This came from the tradition that the jackal will sometimes lead a lion to its prey. In other languages, the same word is sometimes used to describe the behavior of persons who try to scavenge scraps from the misfortunes of others; for example, by looting a village from which its inhabitants have fled because of a disaster.
  • In Nonviolent Communication, "jackal language" refers to communication that labels, judges, and criticizes.


  • The New Encyclopedia of Mammals edited by David Macdonald, Oxford University Press, 2001; ISBN 0-19-850823-9
  • Cry of the Kalahari, by Mark and Delia Owens, Mariner Books, 1992.
  • The Velvet Claw: A Natural History of the Carnivores, by David MacDonald, BBC Books, 1992.
  • Foxes, Wolves, and Wild Dogs of the World, by David Alderton, Facts on File, 2004.

See also

External links

  •, Jackal: Wildlife summary from the African Wildlife Foundation


  1. ^ Ivory, A. 1999. "Canis aureus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed January 18, 2007 at
  2. ^ American Heritage Dictionary - Jackal entry
  3. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary - Jackal entry
  4. ^ Thos vs Canis
  5. ^ Lindblad-Toh et al. 2005. Genome sequence, comparative analysis and haplotype structure of the domestic dog. Nature 438: 803-819.
  6. ^ Doris Feddersen-Petersen, Hundepsychologie, 4. Auflage, 2004, Franck-Kosmos-Verlag 2004
  7. ^ Lindblad-Toh et al. 2005. Genome sequence, comparative analysis and haplotype structure of the domestic dog. Nature 438: 803-819.
  8. ^ "Golden Jackal". Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  9. ^ Macdonald, David (1992). The Velvet Claw. p. 256. ISBN 0563208449. 
  10. ^ The behavior guide to African mammals: including hoofed mammals, carnivores, primates by Richard Estes, published by University of California Press, 1992, ISBN 0520080858

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JACKAL (Turk. chakal), a name properly restricted to Canis aureus, a wolf-like wild member of the dog family inhabiting eastern Europe and southern Asia, but extended to include a number of allied species. Jackals resemble wolves and dogs in their dentition, the round eye-pupils, the period of gestation, and to a large extent also in habits. The European species grows to a height of 15 in. at the shoulders, and to a length of about 2 ft., exclusive of its bushy tail. Typically the fur is greyishyellow, darker on the back and lighter beneath. The range of the common jackal (C. aureus) extends from Dalmatia to India, the species being represented by several local races. In Senegal this species is replaced by C. anthus, while in Egypt occurs the much larger C. lupaster, commonly known as the Egyptian wolf. Nearly allied to the last is the so-called Indian wolf (C. pallipes). Other African species are the black-backed jackal (C. mesomelas), Egyptian Jackal (Canis lupaster). the variegated jackal (C. variegatus), and the dusky jackal (C. adustus). Jackals are nocturnal animals, concealing themselves until dusk in woody jungles and other natural lurking places, and then sallying forth in packs, which sometimes number two hundred individuals, and visiting farmyards, villages and towns in search of food. This consists for the most part of the smaller mammals and poultry; although the association in packs enables these marauders to hunt down antelopes and sheep. When unable to obtain living prey, they feed on carrion and refuse of all kinds, and are thus useful in removing putrescent matter from the streets. They are also fond of grapes and other fruits, and are thus the pests of the vineyard as well as the poultryyard. The cry of the jackal is even more appalling than that of the hyena, a shriek from one member of a pack being the signal for a general chorus of screams, which is kept up during the greater part of the night. In India these animals are hunted with foxhounds or greyhounds, and from their cunning and pluck afford excellent sport. Jackals are readily tamed; and domesticated individuals are said, when called by their masters, to wag their tails, crouch and throw themselves on the ground, and otherwise behave in a dog-like fashion. The jackal, like the fox, has an offensive odour, due to the secretion of a gland at the base of the tail.

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Fox article)

From BibleWiki

There are at present two species of fox inhabiting Palestine: the Canis flavescens, found in the north, and the C. niloticus, common in the central and southern regions. But most of the passages of the Old Testament in which "shu'al" occurs seem to apply rather to the jackal (Canis aureus), the commonest beast of prey in Palestine.

On the other hand, there are two special names for the jackal in the Old Testament, both of which are found only in the plural, "iyyim" and "tannim" (Isa 13:22, Isa 34:13ff, Isa 35:7; Jer 9:10, Jer 10:22, Jer 44:33, etc.). It may be that "shu'al" in the Old Testament is intended as a general term for the whole family or for several species of the Canidæ, while "iyyim" and "tannim" denote the jackal specifically as the "howler" (comp. the Arabic "wawi," or "ibn awa") and as the animal with the outstretched body. According to Tristram, even at the present day the two animals are commonly confounded in Syria, though the inhabitants are aware of their distinction.

Thus the catching of 300 shu'alim in the story of Samson (Jdg 15:4) seems to refer to jackals rather than to foxes, since the former are gregarious and remain in droves, while the latter prowl singly and are taken alive with difficulty. So also in Ps 4311, the word probably applies to the jackal, as it is characteristic of the latter, but not of the fox, to feed on dead bodies. Lam 5:18 and Neh 3:35 are applicable alike to the fox and the jackal, as both are in the habit of burrowing among rocks and ruins; while Ezek 12:4 and Song 2:15 no doubt refer to the proverbial cunning of the fox and its fondness for grapes, though the jackal is equally destructive to vineyards.

That foxes and jackals were formerly, as now, common in Palestine, may be inferred from the names derived from these animals, as "Hazar-shual" (Josh 15:28) and "Shalim" (1Sam 9:4).

In Rabbinical Literature:

There is no ascertained reference to the jackal in the rabbinical writings, while the fox is often spoken of. The latter's term of gestation is six months; it prowls among ruins, burrows in the earth, is even found to inhabit a hollow gourd; kills poultry and young lambs and kids, and is noxious to vineyards (Bek. 8a; Mak. 24b; Ned. 81b; Ket. 111b; Ḥul. 53a; B. Ḳ. 92a; Eccl. R. 98a, etc). In proverbial expressions the cunning and treacherous fox is often contrasted with the kingly lion: "Be rather the tail [i.e., the last] among lions than the head of foxes" (Sanh. 37a; Ab. iv. 15). Of one who belied his great reputation it was said: "The lion has become a fox" (B. Ḳ. 117a; comp. also B. M. 84b; Meg. 16b; Ned. 81b; Ab. ii. 15). The "fox fables" ("mishle shu'alim"), of which 300 were known to R. Meïr (Sanh. 38b; Suk. 28a), had no doubt escapades of the fox for their themes (comp. Ber. 61b; Esth. R. iii. 1; Eccl. R. v. 14; L. Levysohn, in "Jüdisches Volksblatt," vol. iii.). See Aesop's Fables Among the Jews.

The fox was also employed in the magic of the time. The tail of a fox was suspended between the eyes of the horse to protect it against the evil eye (Shab. 53a); its tooth was carried to promote or prevent sleep, according as it was taken from a live or a dead animal (Shab. 67a, Rashi); while the passing of a fox on one's left side was considered an evil omen (Sanh. 65b).

Bibliography: Tristram, The Natural History of the Bible, p. 85; L. Levysohn, Zoologie des Talmuds, p. 77.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.

(Heb. shu'al, a name derived from its digging or burrowing under ground), the Vulpes thaleb, or Syrian fox, the only species of this animal indigenous to Palestine. It burrows, is silent and solitary in its habits, is destructive to vineyards, being a plunderer of ripe grapes (Song 2:15). The Vulpes Niloticus, or Egyptian dog-fox, and the Vulpes vulgaris, or common fox, are also found in Palestine.

The proverbial cunning of the fox is alluded to in Ezek 13:4, and in Lk 13:32, where our Lord calls Herod "that fox." In

Jdg 15:4f, the reference is in all probability to the jackal. The Hebrew word shu'al_ through the Persian _schagal becomes our jackal (Canis aureus), so that the word may bear that signification here. The reasons for preferring the rendering "jackal" are (1) that it is more easily caught than the fox; (2) that the fox is shy and suspicious, and flies mankind, while the jackal does not; and (3) that foxes are difficult, jackals comparatively easy, to treat in the way here described. Jackals hunt in large numbers, and are still very numerous in Southern Palestine.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

File:Golden Jackal
Golden jackals

[[File:|thumb|Black-backed jackal]]

Jackals are canids found in Africa and Asia. They are nocturnal carnivorous and eat small mammals, birds and reptiles. To hunt, they can run at speeds of 16km/h (10mph).

Jackals are monogamous (each male live with only a female), and a pair defends its territory from other pairs. They mark the territory with urine and feces. The territory may be large enough to hold some young adults who live with their parents until they have their own territory. Sometimes, jackals join small packs (groups), for example to hunt a big animal, but normally hunt alone or as a pair.

Today they are very common on safaris, and are also found next to human settlements (villages).

There are four species of jackals:

  • Black-backed Jackal (Canis mesomelas) - the common jackal, live in many African habitats;
  • Golden Jackal (Canis aureus) - live in northern and central Africa and southern Asia;
  • Side-striped Jackal (Canis adustus) - live in central and Southern Africa;

A canid from Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis), is sometimes called Simian Jackal, but it is really a wolf. The Ethiopian Wolf is one of the rarest and most endangered of all canids.


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