Black Backed Jackal Fact File


The black backed jackal has a reddish-brown coat. The flanks and legs are redder than the rest of the body. Their underpants are white. Throughout the coat are a mix of silver and black hairs. At the end of the tail is a black tip. On the backs of the ears there is a thick patch of yellowish brown fur. Across the majority of the back is the black stripe from which their name is derived. Coming from the sides of the black nose is a white line that runs to halfway round the face.

On the front feet there are 5 toes which the hind feet only have 4.

From the head to the end of the body the black backed jackal measures 96-110cm (38-43in). At the shoulders jackals stand 30-48cm (12-19in) tall. The tail is 26-40cm (10-16in) long). In East Africa jackals weigh 7-13.8kg (15-30lb). Those in Zimbabwe though are smaller with males weighing 6.8-9.5kg (15-21lb) and the females weighing 5.4-10kg (12-22lb).


The black backed jackal is an omnivore. During a study the primary component of their diet was found to be insects. They also feed on rodents, hares, young antelope, carrion, lizards, marine animals, mussels, and snakes.

Some black backed jackals have been seen taking down a rhinoceros that was wounded at the time. Frequently they eat small bits of grass.

black backed jackal

Scientific Name

Canis mesomelas

Conservation Status

Least Concern


30-48cm (12-19in)


7-13.8kg (12-30lb)


96-110cm (38-43in)


Wild 8 years

Captive 14 years



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The African Wild Dog is found in Central and Southern Africa.


They are found in savanna, woodlands, arid zones, scrublands, open plains and mountainous habitat.

black backed jackal


A pair of black backed jackals will mate for life living in a pack with their offspring. Throughout May to August mating will take place. During this time they become vocal and territorial making sure that no other jackals invade their territory.

To give birth the female finds a den. She may dig a tunnel of her own 1 to 2 metres deep. Otherwise she will find an abandoned aardvark burrow which has many entrances allowing for easy escape.

60 days after mating she gives birth to up to 4 pups. Most of the time only 1 to 3 of the pups are raised. The pups are dark brown in colour and blind. The eyes will open at 10 days old. For the first 3 weeks while the pups suckle mum stays in the den the entire time. The dad as well as the older siblings will go out hunting and keep the burrow safe.

After this 3 weeks they can begin to make forays out of the den to explore. At 3 months old they begin to join the parents on hunting trips and at 6 months old they will conduct their first hunt. By 6-8 months old they begin to find their own territory.

By 11 months old they can have their own pups. The pups which will one day become dominant males and females are the first to mature.

black backed jackal


Diurnal and nocturnal activity patterns have been observed for the black backed jackals. When they live near cities they are almost always nocturnal.

Leopards, lions, cheetahs, hyenas and humans prey upon the black backed jackal. Bateleur eagles and other jackals have been seen killing the pups.

Black backed jackals maintain a territory which is marked with faeces and urine. The pair that lives there will make sure that no other jackals enter that space.

Quick facts

Two subspecies of black backed jackal are recognised the cape jackal and the East African jackal

This species is also known as the silver or red backed jackal.

Photo Credits


By Sumeet Madhukar Moghe (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


By Nevit Dilmen (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Public Domain


Hoffmann, M. 2014. Canis mesomelas. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T3755A46122476. Downloaded on 01 May 2020.

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