Jackal - Encyclopedia


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JACKAL (Turk. chakal), a name properly restricted to Canis aureus, a wolf-like wild member of the dog family inhabiting eastern Europe and southern Asia, but extended to include a number of allied species. Jackals resemble wolves and dogs in their dentition, the round eye-pupils, the period of gestation, and to a large extent also in habits. The European species grows to a height of 15 in. at the shoulders, and to a length of about 2 ft., exclusive of its bushy tail. Typically the fur is greyishyellow, darker on the back and lighter beneath. The range of the common jackal (C. aureus) extends from Dalmatia to India, the species being represented by several local races. In Senegal this species is replaced by C. anthus, while in Egypt occurs the much larger C. lupaster, commonly known as the Egyptian wolf. Nearly allied to the last is the so-called Indian wolf (C. pallipes). Other African species are the black-backed jackal (C. mesomelas), Egyptian Jackal (Canis lupaster). the variegated jackal (C. variegatus), and the dusky jackal (C. adustus). Jackals are nocturnal animals, concealing themselves until dusk in woody jungles and other natural lurking places, and then sallying forth in packs, which sometimes number two hundred individuals, and visiting farmyards, villages and towns in search of food. This consists for the most part of the smaller mammals and poultry; although the association in packs enables these marauders to hunt down antelopes and sheep. When unable to obtain living prey, they feed on carrion and refuse of all kinds, and are thus useful in removing putrescent matter from the streets. They are also fond of grapes and other fruits, and are thus the pests of the vineyard as well as the poultryyard. The cry of the jackal is even more appalling than that of the hyena, a shriek from one member of a pack being the signal for a general chorus of screams, which is kept up during the greater part of the night. In India these animals are hunted with foxhounds or greyhounds, and from their cunning and pluck afford excellent sport. Jackals are readily tamed; and domesticated individuals are said, when called by their masters, to wag their tails, crouch and throw themselves on the ground, and otherwise behave in a dog-like fashion. The jackal, like the fox, has an offensive odour, due to the secretion of a gland at the base of the tail.

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