|Species|| C. adustus|
Jackal refers to three species of canine found in Africa and southern Asia. Described as a possible ancestor to the domestic dog, jackals have been the subject of human religious beliefs, superstition, and persecution.
Jackals are medium-sized wild dogs, weighing between 15-25 pounds, and are up to 42 inches in length. A sandy or tan color is common to all three species, with the black-backed and side-striped jackals sporting an additional dark-colored mantle on their backs, giving them a distinctive two-toned appearance.
They are opportunistic predators, hunting small game such as birds, rodents, small reptiles and insects. When hunting small prey, jackals will stalk silently, then utilize a sudden pouncing movement; the prey is then stunned or killed quickly by a vigorous shaking in the jaws. Hunting pairs may cooperate in getting food, with one digging at a rodent's burrow while the other waits to capture the escapee.
Jackals also scavenge the remains of kills by larger predators, as well as scavenging human habitations, seeking food deposited in garbage dumps. In recent years they have attacked livestock, resulting in a severe drop in numbers due to human persecution.
Two species of wild dog have also been referred to as jackals, due to similar size and habits:
- Coyote or prairie wolf, Canis latrans, sometimes called the "American jackal"
- Ethiopian wolf or red jackal, Canis simensis