Jackals are true members of the dog family and can actually interbreed with both domestic dogs and wolves.

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Breeding

Golden jackals pair for life and the male guards his mate from rivals during the breeding season (October in East Africa, December in Southeast Europe, and all year round in India). A pair of jackals howl together to show that there is a bond between them. They also use different howls to locate one another.

The gestation period (pregnancy) lasts for nine weeks and just before giving birth, the female digs a nursery den. There may be up to nine pups in a litter, but two to four is the usual number. The newly-born pups are covered in soft fur but are blind and helpless for the first few days. Their eyes open after about ten days. For the first three weeks they feed on nothing but their mother's milk and she never leaves them alone. For another five weeks the pups continue to suckle , but also eat regurgitated food - the parents swallow prey they have caught, and when they return to the den the pups like their faces until they regurgitate (bring back) the softened food.

The young begin to take solid food at about three months old, but they rely on their parents for food until they are about five months of age. If one parent dies, the cubs are unlikely to live. However, most pairs are assisted by 'helpers', which are jackals who stay with their parents for a year after reaching sexual maturity (reached at about 11 months), to help look after the next litter. If helpers are present they increase the pups' chances of survival.

Read More: Golden Jackals and humans

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