Black Backed Jackal

© Roger de la Harpe


Black-backed jackal [Canis mesomelas]


The black-backed jackal gets its name from the saddle of long, dark, hair on its back. The similar looking (albeit rarer) side-striped jackal lacks this dark saddle and has a white tip to its tail. The black-backed jackal has a black-tipped tail.

Jackals have erect and pointed ears which facilitate excellent hearing. They rely on this sense to detect large kills kilometres away or to pick up the give-away rustles of rodents and insects.

A jackal’s teeth are superbly adapted for its catholic omnivorous diet. The upper canines are long and curved with a sharp ridge running up the back. These, assisted by the canine-like upper, outer incisors are ideal for catching and holding prey. The carnassial shear, a modified molar-premolar tooth arrangement in all carnivores, is scissor-like and adapted for slicing and shearing meat off the bone. The molars are broad for crushing and grinding up smaller items like insects or fruit. By Megan Emmet

Black-backed Jackal Breeding

The breeding season of the black-backed jackal occurs between July to October in South Africa. After a gestation period of 2 months, a litter of around 1-6 pups (rarely 9) are born.

Spoor Description

The black-backed jackal leaves small, neat dog-like tracks that are about 5 cm long. The spoor is easily identifiable in the dry earth found in the bushveld of South Africa.