Golden jackal (Canis aures)

Source of the photo:
Author of the description: 
Pelikán Judit
Aranysakál (Canis aures)

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Canis
Species: C. aures


From among the four species of jackals the golden jackal is the most wide-spread. From South Estern Europe trough Dalmatia, North Africa, Burma, Asia. In central Europe getting more and more wide-spread, it is native in Hungary.
It mostly likes dry, opened lowlands. It lives in short grassed areas, small bushy forest.

Physical description

Lenght: 80-95 cm
Lenght of tail: 20-30 cm
High at the shoulder: 35-50 cm
Weigh: 8-10 kg

It is easy to recognize that it belongs to the family of dogs, so it is generally true, that it’s behaviour shows awakeness. It’s body is strong, legs are long and thick, it’s tail dowdy and goes down to it’s heel.
It’s whole body looks like a sprinter’s body. It’s long and muscular legs and light body helps him cover the long distances easily. His whole body is covered by hair. He can’t withdrow his nails. His nose is more narrow than face of the wolf, but it’s blunter than the face of the fox. He has very short ears, which are splaied and are only quarter as long as his head. It’s colour is a mix of golden, grey, yellowish and redish. His ear is red and the end of tail is dark. It is also important characteristic that two of it ’s fingers are grown together.


As different live in different areas they do not threathen each others hunting ground.
The golden jackal usually hunts in pairs or in groups mostly at night. One hunting area can be as big as 2,5 km2. If they hunt alone 80% of their attacks fail while if they hunt together this figure is only 30%. Only a low percent of their food is carcass. It’s hunting instict is very important. When hunting, it relies on speed and excellent hearing. It has a strange habit it pretends to be dead and when prey gets close it jumps up and chatches it.
The nutrition of the jackal very complex: fruits, insects, birds, rodents, amphibiants, reptiles and even young gazellas. When hunting for smaller animals it hunts exactly like a fox: it jumps on the prey and kills it by one bite. It’s different with bigger animals: the jackals run after them till they get tired and chatches them after that. First the jackal start eating is stomach the prey so it dieds quickly. What they can’t eat immidietly they take with themself, hide it and eat later.
The desert jackal also covers its liquid needs by eating the prey. It’s nutrition liquid is present as body liquid: blood.

Behaviour, habits

It’s a social animal. It lives in small groups, family whith one bellwether in some goups on the north. The members of the groups share food and protect each other. The development of social life is on the level of wolfs.
They signal the end of their area by pissing it around. They never fight they only scare each other by threathening movements.
They talk like dogs by using different voice levels. This special voice is like a mix of fox barking and kids crying.
From among all wild dogs the jackal is the most daring and intrusive. He is not afraid of human kind furthermore it enters small villages, big townes and also small houses. He steals everything he can move.
The territory of family 2,5-4 km2, which is diveded into 2-3 parts, which they walk around every second day.
They live seperatly from wolfes. They do not have any natural enemy.
On the Serenngeti-plateau the gonlden jackal lives with side-striped jackal.


Breeding season: October, in Europe: January-March
Gestation period: 63 days
Litters: even 9 pups
Lifespan: 8-9 years, in captivity even 14 years

They reproduce once every year. In european communities the breeeding period lasts from January to March. Littering period is from March to May. On the non european areas littering is october, when the weather is dry. The golden jackals lives in kind of marriage. Reproduction period is difficult for the male jackals, while the female is heating the male taking care of her, so no other male can reproduce with one female.
Short before lambing period the female tries to find a cave and a little jackals are born there. The six or more pups are born with hair but they are blind and graceless at the begining. In the first three weeks they are fed with breast milk. Pups come out of the cave after three weeks, after that they quite often move to new places.
After 8 weeks they are able to eat solid food and they need more and more nutrition after that. One of the parents takes the hunted animal to the cave his on stomach. The pups lick the face of the parent till he retches predigested food.
After 8 weeks the pups are sepereted from parents but they need them for at least five more month for nutrition. Female get sexually matured after one year, while males after two years.
Pups are grown up by female. When feelings any kind of danger, female moves the pups to different cave. They can frigthen even a four times bigger enemy. Lot of pups die because their cave is fludied. 1-2 young jackals stay with family and help them grow up the next pups. They protect the cave and hunt for food this is how help the parents. They never leave the pups alone. Those who help the parents will later inherite a part of teritory.
The golden jackals are careing parents, live in small family and grow they kids.

Role in the ecosystem

As a result of being unkown the specie deserves focus both in term of nature protect and wild farming. Their status needs to be monitored continously in order to decide on hunting status. It is native not a pest not invadive. In the hunting period the number of member of species can be controlled, afterthat it is totally protected.
In the near past the living area of golden jackals was defined by the Danube as the northern border. The golden jackal is native in the areas of Romania for a long time. Some people think that the romanian population died or migrate and reapparead only at the begeaning of the twentieth century. The past decades the spread of golden jackal was not limited by anything as wolfes died in southestern part of Romaia, so jackals could take the empty ecologic hole in which wolves live earlier. They usually eat small mammals, birds or dead animals, but they eat everything they enjoy. They have found ideal living areas in the reed, next to the swamps.
The golden jackal is a bioindicator, is presents confirms fertility of territority. Adds to the natural selection of wild animals, they allways hunt weeker animals. As they do not have natural enemies in the areas they occupy sometimes they couse ecology problems but after a while ecology will balanced itself.

Protect status

From among the four jackal species the golden jackals, the black-backed jackal, the side-striped jackal are not indangered, while the ethiopian wolf is protected by low.
In Hungary hunting of golden jackals is prohibitid in breeding period. It is esential to maintain the number of animals as it is native predator. As they reproduce very quicly, the number of species should be monitor and if their is a need hunting can be allowed all year.

Relationships with humans

Jackals caught when beeing pups are getting gentle quickly and are more friendly then foxes. They get used to their farmer follow him like a dog and act like a dog. Jackals caught when they are older get used to farmer in a more difficult way. At the begining they bite but they get mild in a wild. In captivity they can reproduce and they can also be traversed with dogs.
It can be hunted from 15 June to 28 February.

Source of description: 

Csodálatos állatvilág, Közönséges vagy aranysakál
Dr. Lanszki József: Ragadozó emlősök és táplálkozás-ökológiájuk
Brehm: Az állatok világa
A tudás fája c. magazin, Állatok, növények kategória, A vadkutyák
Cristopher O’Toole-John Stidworthy: Ragadozók
Paul Bennett: Élet a sivatagban