Difference between Wolf and Jackal

Key difference: Jackals are scavengers, omnivores, and predators of small to medium-sized animals. Wolves are bigger than jackals and have a more progressive form. They are better adapted to hunt larger animals, and are more social in nature.

Wolves and jackals are different species in the same genus, Canis. Jackals are scavengers, omnivores, and predators of small to medium-sized animals. Wolves are bigger than jackals and have a more progressive form. They are better adapted to hunt larger animals, and are more social in nature with advanced expressive behavior.

The wolf is considered one of the biggest members of the canine family and one of the most popular animals on the planet. It is one of the most well researched animals and probably has the most books written about it. It is the sole and direct ancestor of the dog and hence is able to breed with dogs to produce hybrids. It is currently classified as Least Concern to be extinct or endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), despite the fact that they have been despised and persecuted by most humans.

The wolf’s range in now only one third of its original range due to persecution. They are persecuted mainly due to the fact that they are known to feed on livestock, but they rarely attack humans. Still, wolves are most often than not, depicted as evil and malicious in folktales and literature, such as in ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and the ‘Three Little Pigs.’ However, some Native American tribes have been known to respect and honor the wolf.

Wolves are known for their pack mentality and social structure, with each pack comprising of 8-12 members. These include the alpha male, his mate, who is known as the alpha female, their offspring and the alpha males’ siblings. This pack structure is maintained at all times. The alpha male is the top dog no matter what. He leads the hunts and is responsible for the pack. Wolves are effective pack hunters and are able to effectively communicate and coordinate via scents, howls and facial expressions. There are various species of wolves, but the gray wolf is the most common and most popularly known.

Jackals on the other hand are smaller than wolves, and are more apt at hunting small mammals, birds and reptiles. They have also been known to scavenge, feeding on dead animals, or on leftovers of other’s hunts. There are three main types of jackals, the golden jackal, the side-striped jackal, and the black-backed jackal. The black-backed and side-striped jackals are more closely related to each other than they are to the golden jackal, which is closer to wolves, dogs, and coyotes. The jackal is listed by the IUCN as least concern.

Jackals are often depicted as clever sorcerers in Eastern myths. In ancient Egyptian religion, the god associated with the afterlife is Anubis, a jackal-headed god. The jackal is also mentioned approximately 14 times in the Bible. It is frequently used to illustrate desolation, loneliness and abandonment, with reference to its habit of living in the ruins of former cities and other areas abandoned by humans.

The side-striped jackal mainly lives in wooded areas, unlike other jackal species. It is the least aggressive of the jackals and rarely preys on large mammals. The black-backed jackal is the most lightly built jackal, and is considered to be the oldest living member of the canine family. It is the most aggressive of the jackals and has been known to attack animal prey many times its own weight. It also has more quarrelsome intrapack relationships. It has a widespread range and adaptability, but it is still persecuted as a livestock predator.

The golden jackal is known as the heaviest of the jackals. Genetically, it is more closely related to the gray wolf and the coyote. It has a widespread range in areas with optimum food and shelter. The golden jackal is a social species, whose basic social unit consists of a breeding pair, followed by its offspring. It is highly adaptable and is able to exploit many food types, from fruit and insects to small hoofed mammals.

A detailed comparison between the wolf and jackal:

 

Wolf

Jackal

Scientific classification

Animalia – Chordata – Mammalia – Carnivora – Canidae – Canis

Animalia – Chordata – Mammalia – Carnivora – Canidae – Canis

Species

Grey wolf: C. lupus

Mexican wolf: C. l. baileyi; Red wolf: C. rufus.

Golden jackal: Canis aureus

Side-striped jackal: Canis adustus

Black-backed jackal: Canis mesomelas

Indigenous

Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, mainly North America

Golden jackal - north and northeastern Africa, southeastern and central Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East and southeast Asia

Side-striped jackal - central and southern Africa.

Black-backed jackal – southern and eastern Africa

Description

Skillful hunter with a keen sense of smell, acute hearing, and great stamina. 26 to 38 inches (66 to 97 cm) high at the shoulder and up to 80 inches (2 m) long, including a 14- to 20-inch (36- to 50-cm) tail. It weighs 60 to 130 pounds (27 to 59 kg). Can run for 12 miles at 15 to 30 miles (24 to 48 kilometers) per hour. Over a short distance, it can sprint as fast as 40 miles (64 kilometers) per hour. Have sharp canine teeth and very strong jaws. Hunt and live in packs for 8-12 members. Very territorial.

Long, slender legs; a bushy tail; and fox-like ears.

Black-backed jackal has a black fur on its back. The side-striped jackal has a band of white fur and a band of black fur along its sides. Curved canine teeth are adapted for hunting small mammals, birds and reptiles. Big feet and fused leg bones give them a long-distance runner's physique, capable of maintaining speeds of 16 km/h (9.9 mph) for extended periods of time.

Fur

Typically light gray sprinkled with black but can range from nearly pure white, red, or brown to black.

Coarse, and is mottled gray, tawny, or reddish above with lighter under parts

Dens

In caves, in hollow logs, or in burrows in stream banks or sandy knolls

In burrows

Food

Moose, caribou, deer, small rodents, birds, insects, crayfish, and berries.

insects, small mammals, plants, and carrion (decaying animal flesh)

Mating habits

Wolves usually mate for life and both parents take care of the young.

Both parents take care of the young.

Gestation period

63 days

two months

Litter

four to seven pups

two to four pups

Image Courtesy: bestfunfacts.com, animalspirits.com

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