I put up my Christmas decorations earlier this week and am now in a silent war with my boyfriend about leaving the twinkle lights on. He's paranoid that they will short and set our place on fire. I just really love twinkle lights. I took care not to overload any circuits or plug in anything that had exposed wires. But the battle continues.

Anyway, on to Wednesday Woof.

The Golden Jackal (Canis aureus) is a medium-sized canid that can be found in northern Africa, southeast Asia, the Middle East and Asia Minor, and even southeastern Europe. It looks kind of like a small Gray Wolf, but it has smaller paws, a more slender figure, short tail and narrow muzzle. It's also known (in English) as the common jackal, the reed wolf, or the Asiatic jackal.

Golden Jackals are sometimes known to grow a small bony horn on their skulls, which are usually no more than half an inch long and concealed by its fur. This excrescence is associated with magical powers in southeast Asia, and thus far scientists have no explanation for the growths.

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Sri Lankans call the Jackal's Horn narric-comboo, and the Sinhalese and Tamil believe that if worn as an amulet, it can grant wishes and return to its owner when lost. The Tharu people (Nepal) believe that the Jackal's horn only appears when a family group howls in chorus, and remains hidden the rest of the time.

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Golden Jackals live in family groups made up of a breeding pair and their offspring, although they are flexible and adapt their social structure according to the availability of food. They don't usually hunt in groups - packs of 8 to 12 Jackals made up of more than one family group have been observed, but this behavior is highly unusual. They can bring down animals as large as three times their own weight, but typically goes after smaller animals. They will cache what they can't eat for up to 24 hours.

There are twelve recognized subspecies of Golden Jackal:

  • Canis aureus aureus (Middle East)
  • Canis aureus algirensis (Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco)
  • Canis aureus anthus (Senegal)
  • Canis aureus bea (Tanzania and Kenya)
  • Canis aureus cruesemanni (Myanmar and Thailand)
  • Canis aureus indicus (India and Nepal)
  • Canis aureus moreoticus (Caucasus, southeastern Europe)
  • Canis aureus naria (Sri Lanka)
  • Canis aureus riparius (Ethiopia, Erirtrea, and Somaliland)
  • Canis aureus soudanicus (Sudan)
  • Canis aureus syriacus (Israel and Jordan)
  • Canis aureus ecsedensis

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Female Golden Jackals give birth to litters of different sizes, depending mostly on geography. In Uzbekistan, for instance, litters can be as large as eight pups. In India, they average four. In Bulgaria, four to seven. The mother of the pups feeds them more often than her mate or her older offspring, who act as "helpers" until they reach adulthood. But the new pups are reared by the family group, which helps to watch over them while other family members are out hunting.

The Golden Jackal has a prominent place in local folklore, often adopting the role of the Trickster, similar to that of the fox and Coyote in North American and European traditions.