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Golden jackal
Temporal range: Late Pleistocene – Recent
Jackal in evening breeze (cropped).jpg
Golden jackal in Kumana National Park, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka
Golden jackals howling
Scientific classification edit
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Canis
Species:
C. aureus
Binomial name
Canis aureus
Subspecies
  • C. a. aureus
  • C. a. cruesemanni
  • C. a. ecsedensis
  • C. a. indicus
  • C. a. moreoticus
  • C. a. naria
  • C. a. syriacus
Refer to the section "Subspecies" and the column "Distribution"
Range of the golden jackal

The golden jackal (Canis aureus) is a wolf-like canid that is native to Southeast Europe, Southwest Asia, South Asia, and regions of Southeast Asia. Compared with the Arabian wolf, which is the smallest of the gray wolves (Canis lupus), the jackal is smaller and possesses shorter legs, a shorter tail, a more elongated torso, a less-prominent forehead, and a narrower and more pointed muzzle. The golden jackal's coat can vary in color from a pale creamy yellow in summer to a dark tawny beige in winter. It is listed as 'least concern' on the IUCN Red List due to its widespread distribution and high density in areas with plenty of available food and optimum shelter.

The ancestor of the golden jackal is believed

The golden jackal (Canis aureus) is a wolf-like canid that is native to Southeast Europe, Southwest Asia, South Asia, and regions of Southeast Asia. Compared with the Arabian wolf, which is the smallest of the gray wolves (Canis lupus), the jackal is smaller and possesses shorter legs, a shorter tail, a more elongated torso, a less-prominent forehead, and a narrower and more pointed muzzle. The golden jackal's coat can vary in color from a pale creamy yellow in summer to a dark tawny beige in winter. It is listed as 'least concern' on the IUCN Red List due to its widespread distribution and high density in areas with plenty of available food and optimum shelter.

The ancestor of the golden jackal is believed to be the extinct Arno river dog that lived in Mediterranean Europe 1.9 million years ago. It is described as having been a small, jackal-like canine. Genetic studies indicate that the golden jackal expanded from India around 20,000 years ago towards the end of the last ice age. The oldest golden jackal fossil, found at the Ksar Akil rock shelter near Beirut, Lebanon, is 7,600 years old. The oldest golden jackal fossils in Europe were found in Greece and are 7,000 years old. There are seven subspecies of the golden jackal. The golden jackal is more closely related to the gray wolf, coyote, African golden wolf, and Ethiopian wolf than it is to the African black-backed jackal or side-striped jackal. It is capable of producing fertile hybrids with both the gray wolf and the African golden wolf. Jackal–dog hybrids called Sulimov dogs are in service at the Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow where they are deployed by the Russian airline Aeroflot for scent-detection.

Golden jackals are abundant in valleys and beside rivers and their tributaries, canals, lakes, and seashores. They are rare in foothills and low mountains. The golden jackal is a social species, the basic social unit of which consists of a breeding pair and any young offspring. It is very adaptable, with the ability to exploit food ranging from fruit and insects to small ungulates. They will attack domestic fowl and domestic mammals up to the size of domestic water buffalo calves. The jackal's competitors are the red fox, wolf, jungle cat, wildcat, in the Caucasus the raccoon, and in Central Asia the Asiatic wildcat. The jackal is expanding beyond its native grounds in Southeast Europe into Central and Northeast Europe, occupying areas where there are few or no wolves.