Golden Jackal Fact File

Canis aureus

Credit: [2], CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Weight

7-15kg

(15-33lbs)

Length

0.6-1.1m

(2-3.5ft)

Lifespan

Wild 8-9 years

Captive 16 years

Diet

Omnivore

Scavenger

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

The golden jackal is found in a wide range across Asia, Europe and Africa. Recently the species has increased its range further west and north in to Europe having previously live close to the Mediterranean.

These animals are primarily scavengers and will seek out meat, fruits and vegetables. They will make use of human rubbish.


They will live in a family unit made up of a mating pair and their recent offspring. Previous offspring may remain within the pack to help raise the next litter.


As their range expands in to Europe so does their overall numbers. In some areas they are subject to hunting for sport and their skin.


Read on to learn more about these majestic mammals.

Appearance

What does the golden jackal look like?

Their body is covered by a coat of golden brown or yellow fur. Across the body this is short and coarse. Around the nose and ears along with on the underside is ginger colored fur.

Melanistic or all black individuals of this species have been recorded. An albino individual has also been recorded.

Each year this species undergoes two moults of their fur. One in spring and the other autumn.

At the end of their body is a tail which measures between 20 and 30cm (8-12in) long. This tail ends with a black tip.

An average golden jackal will measure 0.6-1.1m (2-3.5ft) long with a weight between 7 and 15kg (15 and 33lbs). They stand 50cm (20in) tall.

Diet

What does the golden jackal eat?


Golden jackals are omnivores. They opportunistically scavenge for meat from their environment. Some hunting of small mammals is also undertaken and they will gather fruits and vegetables. Often they don’t chew their food while eating.

Food may be buried. This allows them to return and eat it later without scavengers being able to take it.

In India lone jackals have been seen to follow tigers and eat their kills. They may even alert a tiger to a kill with a call.

Golden Jackal (Canis aureus)

Credit: Public Domain

Range

Where can you find the golden jackal?

This species if found across Asia, Europe and Africa. They are present in the following countries – Afghanistan; Albania; Armenia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Bangladesh; Belarus; Bhutan; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Cambodia; Croatia; Czechia; Denmark; Estonia; France; Germany; Georgia; Greece; Hungary; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Italy; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Lativa; Lithuania; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Lebanon; Moldova; Montenegro; Myanmar; Nepal; Netherlands; North Macedonia; Pakistan; Poland; Qatar; Romania; Russia; Saudi Arabia; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Sri Lanka; Syrian Arab Republic; Switzerland; Tajikistan; Thailand; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; Uzbekistan and Viet Nam.

Their range is gradually increasing in Europe with the species having moved in to new territories North and West of their historic range. This expansion is suggested to have been aided by the removal of the grey wolf from many areas of Europe.

Their current presence in Egypt is uncertain.

Habitat

What kind of environment does the golden jackal live in?

This species is found in a wide variety of habitats across its range. These include forest, savanna, shrubland and grassland.

They are often seen in rural and urban fringe habitats. At nightfall they may enter human inhabited areas to scavenge for garbage.

Their den may be formed through the male digging it or within an abandoned badger or fox den.

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Reproduction

How does the golden jackal produce its young?

Golden jackals are monogamous and form pairs which remain together for life. A female may have several males pursuing her during her first breeding season before she selects one to mate with.


A female will give birth to between 6 and 9 young known as pups. These are born after a 63 day gestation period. She gives birth in a secure den.


Females begin to wean their young on to meat after just 8-10 weeks. At this stage they cannot hunt. Instead adults regurgitate food for them after they return from their hunt.


Young may remain with their parents as adults. These individuals help to raise the next litter of pups which can allow their mother more time to hunt.


Females reach sexual maturity at 11 months old while females do not achieve this till 2 years old.

Behavior

What does the golden jackal do with its day?

These animals primarily live in pairs but in areas with abundant food they will create groups which have up to two individuals.

They live in groups made up of a breeding pair and their offspring. Offspring may remain with their parents and help raise the next little of pups.

Activity patterns vary across their range. Near humans they are nocturnal while in wilderness areas they can be active by day.

They produce a wide variety of call include howls to communicate with one another.

Golden Jackal (Canis aureus)

Credit: Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the golden jackal?

Natural predators of the golden jackal include striped hyenas.


Populations of the golden jackal are increasing and the species has seen large increases in its range over recent decades which appear to be continuing. This rise in population is aided by rising temperatures in Europe which remove snow the one environmental condition the species can not tolerate.


Some localized populations are decreasing. This decrease is occurring as a result of direct persecution primarily due to the taking of livestock as well as accidental entanglement in snares.


Some hunting occurs for sport and in areas there is a small trade in their skins and tails.

Quick facts

These are the jackals which were held to be sacred by the Ancient Egyptians.

This species may also be referred to as the common jackal, Asiatic jackal or reed wolf.

The species was first described formally for science in 1758.

Golden Jackal (Canis aureus)

Credit: [1], CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Jackson, T. and Chinery, M., 2012. The illustrated encyclopedia of animals of the world. London: Southwater.

Hoffmann, M., Arnold, J., Duckworth, J.W., Jhala, Y., Kamler, J.F. & Krofel, M. 2018. Canis aureus (errata version published in 2020). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T118264161A163507876. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T118264161A163507876.en. Accessed on 16 December 2021.

European Wilderness Society. 2021. Golden Jackal Archives. [online] Available at: <https://wilderness-society.org/tag/golden-jackal/> [Accessed 16 December 2021].

Thai National Parks. 2021. Canis aureus, Golden jackal. [online] Available at: <https://www.thainationalparks.com/species/golden-jackal> [Accessed 16 December 2021].

Ivory, A. 1999. “Canis aureus” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed December 16, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Canis_aureus/

Biomes, B., 2021. Blue Planet Biomes – Golden Jackal. [online] Blueplanetbiomes.org. Available at: <https://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/golden_jackal.php> [Accessed 16 December 2021].

African Wildlife Foundation. 2021. Jackal. [online] Available at: <https://www.awf.org/wildlife-conservation/jackal> [Accessed 16 December 2021].

Canids.org. 2021. Golden jackal | Canids. [online] Available at: <https://www.canids.org/species/view/PREKMW872861> [Accessed 16 December 2021].

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