Skip navigation

Category Archives: Canines


The silver backed Jackal

jackal 1 silver backed

The jackal (from Turkish çakal, via Persian shaghal ultimately from Sanskrit sgāla [1][2]) is a member of any of three (sometimes four) small to medium-sized species of the family Canidae, found in Africa, Asia and southeastern Europe.[3] Jackals fill a similar ecological niche to the coyote in North America, that of predators of small to medium-sized animals, scavengers, and omnivores. Their long legs and 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. They are crepuscular, most active at dawn and dusk.

In jackal society the social unit is that of a monogamous pair which defends its territory from other pairs. These territories are defended by vigorously chasing intruding rivals and marking landmarks around the territory with urine and feces. The territory may be large enough to hold some young adults who stay with their parents until they establish their own territory. Jackals may occasionally assemble in small packs, for example to scavenge a carcass, but normally hunt alone or as a pair.


Use in slang

The popular, although rather inaccurate image of jackals is as scavengers, and this has resulted in a somewhat negative image.

  • The expression “jackalling” is sometimes used to describe the work done by a subordinate in order to save the time of a superior. (For example, a junior lawyer may peruse large quantities of material on behalf of a barrister). This came from the tradition that the jackal will sometimes lead a lion to its prey. In other languages, the same word is sometimes used to describe the behavior of persons who try to scavenge scraps from the misfortunes of others; for example, by looting a village from which its inhabitants have fled because of a disaster.
  • In Nonviolent Communication, “jackal language” refers to communication that labels, judges, and criticizes.

jackals 2


foxWinterRedA fox is an animal of small to medium-sized canids, characterized by possessing a long, narrow snout, and a bushy tail, or brush. By far the most common and widespread species of fox is the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), although various species are found on almost every continent. The presence of fox-like carnivores all over the globe has led to their appearance in both popular culture and folklore

In the wild foxes can live for up to 10 years, but most foxes only live for 2 to 3 years due to hunting, road accidents and diseases. Foxes are generally smaller than other members of the family Canidae such as wolves, jackals, and domestic dogs. Dogs (male foxes) weigh on average, 5.9 kilograms (13 lb) and vixens (female foxes) weigh less, at 5.2 kilograms (11.5 lb). Fox-like features typically include an acute muzzle (a “fox face”) and bushy tail.

fox 3

Unlike many canines foxes are not usually pack animals. Typically, they live in small family groups, opportunistic feeders that hunt live prey (especially rodents). Using a pouncing technique practiced from an early age, they are usually able to kill their prey quickly. Foxes also gather a wide variety of other foods ranging from grasshoppers to fruit and berries.

Foxes are normally extremely wary of humans and are not usually kept as indoor pets; however, the silver fox was successfully domesticated in Russia after a 45 year selective breeding program. This selective breeding also resulted in physical and behavioral traits appearing that are frequently seen in domestic cats, dogs, and other animals: pigmentation changes, floppy ears, and curly tails. [4] Certain people have domesticated the fennec fox, red fox, arctic fox, and many other fox breeds, however.


The diet of foxes is largely made up of invertebrates. However, it also includes rodents, rabbits and other small mammals, reptiles, (such as snakes), amphibians, grasses, berries, fruit, fish, birds, eggs, and all other kinds of small animals. Many species are generalist predators, but some (such as the crab-eating fox) are more specialist. Most species of foxes generally consume around 1 kg of food every day. Foxes cache excess food, burying it for later consumption, usually under leaves, snow, or soil.

fox eating 4

Foxes are readily found in cities and cultivated areas and (depending upon species) seem to adapt reasonably well to human presence.

Foxes have been successfully employed to control pests on fruit farms while leaving the fruit intact.[5]

Relationships with humans

Fox attacks on humans are not common but have been reported. In November 2008 an incident in Arizona, USA was reported in which a jogger was attacked and bitten by a rabid fox.[6]

Fox hunting

Fox hunting is a controversial sport that originated in the United Kingdom in the 16th century. Hunting with dogs is now banned in the United Kingdom[7], though hunting without dogs is still permitted. The sport is practiced in several other countries including Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Russia and the United States.

friendly fox 5


The Russian Silver Fox, or Domesticated Silver Fox, is the result of nearly 50 years of experiments in the Soviet Union and Russia to domesticate the silver morph of the Red Fox. Notably, the new foxes not only became more tame, but more dog-like as well: they lost their distinctive musky “fox smell”, became more friendly with humans, put their ears down (like dogs), wagged their tails when happy and began to vocalize and bark like domesticated dogs. The breeding project was set up by the Russian scientist Dmitri Belyaev.


The safest way to handle foxes:

safe way to hold

A fox is an animal of small to medium-sized canids, characterized by possessing a long, narrow snout, and a bushy tail, or brush. By far the most common and widespread species of fox is the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), although various species are found on almost every continent. The presence of fox-like carnivores all over the globe has led to their appearance in both popular culture and folklore

African Wild Dogs

// Anatomy and reproduction

wild dog 1

The scientific name “Lycaon pictus” is derived from the Greek for “wolf” and the Latin for “painted”. It is the only canid species to lack dewclaws on the forelimbs.

Name controversy

A controversy began in the late 1990s when conservationists working to protect lycaon pictus said that their most common name, “African Wild Dog”, was a source of confusion and prejudice. Conservationist Greg Rasmussen is one of the founders of the Painted Hunting Dog Research Project. He advocates using the name “painted hunting dog

Adults y weight:  17-36 kilograms (37-79 pounds

Height: A tall, lean animal, it stands about 30 inches (75 cm) at the shoulder, with a head and body length averaging about 40 inches (100 cm) and a tail of 12 to 18 inches (30-45 cm).

With a  total of 42 teeth, the premolars are relatively large compared with those of other canids, allowing it to consume a large quantity of bone, much like hyenas A study established that the African Wild Dog had a Bite Force Quotient of 142, the highest of any extant mammal of the order Carnivora The BFQ is essentially the strength of bite as measured against the animal’s mass.

african-wild-dog-pups 3

The African Wild Dog reproduces at any time of year, although mating peaks between March and June during the second half of the rainy season. Litters can contain 2-19 pups, though 10 is the most usual number. The time between births is usually 12–14 months, though it can also be as short as 6 months if all of the previous young die. The typical gestation period is approximately 70 days Pups are usually born in an abandoned den dug by other animals Weaning takes place at about 10 weeks. After 3 months, the den is abandoned and the pups begin to run with the pack. At the age of 8-11 months they can kill small prey, but they are not proficient until about 12-14 months, at which time they can fend for themselves. Pups reach sexual maturity at the age of 12-18 months.

Social Structure

They have a submission based hierarchy, instead of a dominance based one. Submission and nonaggression is emphasized heavily, even over food they will beg energetically instead of fight. This is likely because of their manner of raising huge litters of dependant pups, so if one individual is injured the entire pack would not be able to provide as much.

Hunting & Diet

The African Wild Dog hunts in packs. Like most members of the dog family it pursues its prey in a long, open chase. Nearly 80% of all hunts end in a kill. Members of a pack vocalize to help coordinate their movements. Its voice is characterized by an unusual chirping or squeaking sound, similar to a bird.

wild dog prey 2

After a successful hunt, hunters regurgitate meat for those that remained at the den during the hunt, such as the dominant female and the pups. They will also feed other pack members, such as the sick, injured, or very old that cannot keep up.

The African Wild Dog’s main prey varies among populations but always centers around medium-sized ungulates, such as the Impala. While the vast majority of its diet is made up of mammal prey, it sometimes hunts large birds, especially Ostriches.

A few packs will also include large animals in their prey, such as wild beasts and zebras. Hunting larger prey requires a closely coordinated attack, beginning with a rapid charge to stampede the herd. One African Wild Dog then grabs the victim’s tail, while anotherattacks the upper lip, and the remainder disembowel the animal while it is immobilised. This behaviour is also used on other large dangerous prey, such as the warthog, the African Buffalo, giraffe calves, and large antelope—even the one-ton Giant Eland. The dogs often eat their prey while it is still alive. This disemboweling was a reason to regard the African Wild Dog as repulsive, but recent studies have shown that prey of the African Wild Dog die more quickly than prey of the lion and the leopard, which kill their prey by grabbing the throat and suffocating the animal.

Distribution and threats

The home range of packs varies enormously, depending on the size of the pack and the nature of the terrain. Their preferred habitat is deciduous forests because of large prey herd size, lack of competition from other carnivores, and better sites for denning.[12] In the Serengeti, the average range has been estimated at 1,500 square kilometres (580 square miles), although individual ranges overlap extensively.[8]

The African Wild Dog is endangered by habitat loss and hunting. It uses very large territories (and so can persist only in large wildlife protected areas), and it is strongly affected by competition with larger carnivores that rely on the same prey base, particularly the lion and the Spotted Hyena. Lions often will kill as many wild dogs as they can but do not eat them. It is also killed by livestock herders and game hunters, though it is typically no more (perhaps less) persecuted than other carnivores that pose more threat to livestock.



1/7/09   Wed.  – The great canines


The gray wolf or simply wolf is the largest wild member of the canine family. It is an ice age survivor going back to300000 years. DNA and bio-molecular studies show a common ancestry with the domestic dog. Archaeological evidence clearly shows that the dogs separated from the wolves 15ooo years ago or more.

There are also theories which challenge the bio-relation of a dog with the wolf.

  1. Dogs are friendly to strangers unlike wolves
  2. The fighting styles of wolves also differ . Dogs limit their attacks to head, neck and shoulder while wolves attacks body blocks and go to extremes.
  3. Dogs skulls are 20% smaller and brains are 10% smaller than a wolf’s
  4. The dogs pre-molars are much more crowded
  5. The paws of a dog are half the size of a wolf’s
  6. Unlike wolves, a dog’s tail can curl upwards

Wolf – Built for stamina

Wolves have great stamina that makes them capable of long distance travel. They can cover several miles trotting at 10 kmph ( 6 mph) and while chasing a prey they can approach a speed of 65 kmph ( 40 mph).


Wolves have a bulky coat with two layers. The first layer is made up of tough guard hairs that repel water and dirt. The second is a dense undercoat that insulates. During late spring and summer wolves shed their undercoat in the form of tufts of fur.



Fur coloration varies from gray to gray brown and a spectrum of white, red, brown and blacks. It is also common to find an all black or all while wolf populations. Italy has 20-25% black wolves. But black wolves are rarely seen outside North America.

Wolves and other canines:

eating wolf

Wolves have powerful muzzles that distinguish them from other canines like Jackals or coyotes. Jackals and Coyotes have narrow pointed muzzles. They also differ from dogs with a larger head, brain,paws, yellow eyes, longer legs and bigger teeth.  The teeth are a wolf’s main weapon. They are designed for tearing flesh and are capable of delivering a force of 1450 pound per sq. in. The gray wolf is also better suited to bone crushing than the other canines though it is not as specialized as that of a Hyena.

Wolves feed on medium to large sized prey such as ungulates ( Hoof legged animals). They can also eat fish, garbage and carrion ( Rotten flesh).

Cannibalism is not common among wolves. They only resort to it if there’s a food scarcity or one of their member dies in a fight during territory disputes.

A single wolf can eat up to 3.7 – 3.5 Kgs of food at a time. yearly, the consumption can figure upto  1.5 tons of meat. So if ever you want to keep a wolf as a pet you’ll have plan to organize its yearly tons. Also, wolves can go without food for as long as 17 days without their muscles feeling weak.

Post dining:

once a wolf finishes its food it needs 7.5 liters of water. Wolves also supplement their diet with vegetation. In fact, reports say that in Russia farmers had a problem protecting their watermelon plantations from these wild boys who had a growling taste for it.


Wolves target the easiest options like young or sick animals. They hide themselves when they see the prey as they stealthily approach it.

If the animal confronts the wolves they will attack it.

If the prey stands still and does not rum, the wolves leave it. And sometimes both the wolves and prey can stand there for hours or days.

The moment the prey attempts to leave, the wolves will chase it.

The chase stops after a distance of 180 meters. Females wolves do the chasing as they are better at it. The male wolves pin the  prey down to tear it apart. The wolves tear everything apart in the body. They can attack through any part unlike a dog that lunges at the head, throat or shoulder. Or like a leopard that bites the neck and cuts the jugular vein. Wolves also do this and they have very powerful teeth – their only weapon given by nature.

wolves hunting


Wolves also keep off humans. They avoid any prey that they are not used to. However if  there is a continuous contact then the wolves may be tempted to attack.



Mating occurs between January-April. The gestation period lasts between 60 – 63 days where the new born pups weigh ½ Kg. ( 1 Pound). They are blind, deaf and completely dependent on Mamma wolf. On an average the litter size is 5-6 pups but a Russian record shows 17 pups.

The pups stay in the maternity den for two months. The den is on a high ground, close to a water source. During this time in the den the pups become independent and begin to explore the area outside. By 5 weeks their exploration covers a mile. By 10 weeks they are fully developed and during these growing years the mother – and even the – take care of them. Then, two months later the pups are moved to a safe site so that the adults can go for hunting. One or two wolves stay back to guard the pups. After a few more weeks the pups join the adult pack in their hunts and during the hunts they remain as spectators until 8 months of age. Then once they grow large enough they too participate in the hunt.

Wolves reach sexual maturity after two or three years. They live for up to 6 to 10 years in the wild and double that age in captivity.

Although they are killed by other predators like bears or tigers and due to human hunting and poaching, rival wolves are often their most dangerous enemies.

wolf pack

Group Behavior:

Wolves commonly roam in packs and occasionally lone wolves are found in the wild. Lone wolves are driven off from their packs when they are old or sometimes young adult wolves go searching for a new territory. Packs can have 2-20 wolves though the typical size is 8.

In their hierarchy wolves have the dominant ‘Alpha pair’, ‘Beta’ group of subordinates and ‘Omega wolves’ the lowest.


Wolves are territorial animals, a characteristic displayed by most canines. A wolf’s average territory is close to 200 sq. Kms.  The packs travel in this area for prey. Wolves also tend to avoid fatal encounters with other pack when territories infringe. Usually when such battles occur the aggressive and dominant males get killed. Sometimes young wolves (1-3 years of age) stray into other territories and they are accepted by other packs -but -the majority of other adult wolves are killed.




Howling is a means of communication for wolves. It indicated the location of a territory and a means to avoid other packs in the neighborhood.  Howling indicates core territory and wolves spend time  in the territory marked howling.



Wolves also use scent marking to claim various things. Urine is the widely used marker. Defecation markings are used for visual indication. These marking are used to identify food, creating awareness about whereabouts and to inform other wolves that the territory is occupied- a warning. Wolves have scent glands all over their body like at the base of their tail, between toes, in the eyes, skin and genitals. They rub their bodies to use these scents as markers. Scents can also be rubbed on other wolves to signal that they are members of the pack.


The Hyena 1/7/09 Wed.

The Hyena originated 26 million years ago. Unlike their modern descendants they were not specialized bone crunchers but were nimble wolf like animals. The dog like Hyena had mortars that allowed the eating of vegetation and insects along with their carnivorous diet. The Hyenas gradually evolved into bone crushing animals and began to hunt for themselves.

They became a new species like the modern spotted Hyena.

spotted hyena

The Hyena has a distinct bear like gait where the front legs are shorter than the hind legs. The striped and brown Hyenas have striped pelts and manes lining the top of their necks. They stand erect when scared. The spotted Hyena is considerable shorter and spotted than the striped Hyena.

striped hyena

Hyenas have powerful carnivorous teeth (Canines) adapted for tearing and cutting flesh and molars for bone crushing. All living Hyenas are scavengers and they are also very intelligent animals. Two such indications are the way they move their killed prey close together to protect it from scavengers and their hunting methods which are planned and strategic.

hyena pack

As hunters and scavengers they have extremely strong jaws and a very powerful digestive system of highly acidic fluids. This makes them capable of eating and digesting their entire prey including skin, teeth, horns and bones. Their digestive system deals well with bacteria and they can readily eat even rotten flesh.


” Hi Pal!”, You see they’re all my distant cousins. All wild fellas!”