Black-Backed Jackal: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

The black-backed jackal is a very smart animal that lives in Africa. In this lesson, you'll learn many interesting facts about black-backed jackals, and find out why their backs are black!

A Jackal's Personality

Have you ever heard someone described as being ''sly as a fox''? In Africa, instead of comparing a smart, tricky person to a fox, they'd probably compare him to a jackal.

Jackals are animals that resemble a dog. Because they're very smart, they're mentioned in many African folktales, where they're known as tricksters. A trickster fools the other animals and tricks them into doing things they don't want to do.

Black-Backed Jackal Appearance

There are three different kinds of jackals in Africa: common jackals, side-striped jackals, and black-backed jackals. The black-backed jackal is also called the ''silver-backed jackal.'' These names come from their appearance. If you look at a black-backed jackal, you can easily see how it got its name.

Black-backed Jackal

One African folktale explains how the black-backed jackal got its black back. The jackal loved the sun and followed it all day. One day, when the jackal sees that the sun isn't in the sky, he searches for the sun and finds her stuck in a tree.

To save the sun, he tries to free her with his paws, but the sun is so hot that his paws are burned black. Still, he pulls the sun free and puts her on his back. He runs as fast as he can to return the sun to her home, but while she's on his back, she burns his back and turns it black.

Black-backed jackals weigh about 15-35 pounds and are about 15-20 inches tall at the shoulder. Their fur is reddish-brown in color and, as described in the folktale, they've got black feet and a black back. Black-backed jackals have thick, bushy tails with black tips. Their ears are large and are pointed.

Survival of the Black-Backed Jackal

To find a black-backed jackal, you'd need to go to Africa, since they're only found on that continent. They live in open savannas, which are grassy fields that usually only have a few trees. They're also sometimes found in wooded savannas, which have more trees, but they mostly like open spaces.

Jackals can live to be up to twelve years old in the wild. They're fast runners and can keep up a slow trot for a long time. They're very territorial and will stay in a particular area that they will defend against other jackals.

Jackals live in family groups, with older pups often staying with their parents for several years to help take care of the new litters of pups. They can have litters of up to nine pups at a time, which are born underground in their den. The pups are born blind and can't see for about ten days.

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