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A jackal, d, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. It is a small, carnivorous canine animal that can be seen via infravision, and is the most basic member of the canine monster class that a character will encounter.

A jackal has a single bite attack.


Randomly generated jackals are always created hostile, and may appear in small groups.

Werejackals can summon hostile jackals by calling for help, with a 67 chance of generating a hostile jackal on each adjacent square[1] - a character that gets lycanthropy from a werejackal will both take on the form of a jackal, and can also summon tame jackals by using the #monster extended command with at least 10 power.

Jackals appear among the random d that are part of the first quest monster class for Samurai and make up 24175 of the monsters randomly generated on the Samurai quest.


Jackals can be dangerous for a starting character due to their speed and tendency to appear in packs, making them a common cause of death for beginners: as of January 2024, jackals are ranked at number two on the nethack.alt.org list of top death causes, below dwarves and well above soldier ants. Fortunately, they have very low HP and should not be too greatly feared, and their fresh corpses make decent early meals, especially for roles that lack starting food or are not observing vegetarian conduct.

Most characters have sufficient starting weapons and skill levels to fight off jackals: in terms of the exceptions, Tourists can dispatch them using their bare hands, but should not be to use their darts in a pinch, while Healers may need the assistance of their stethoscope to monitor a jackal's HP level. Characters should be positioned in a hallway so that they can engage in melee combat without being surrounded, and can also line up a group of jackals by funneling them through a hall to hit with a wand or spell.

A werejackal can summon more jackals to surround you, making funneling tactics all the more vital: though it makes it easier for your escape route to be blocked off, damage adds up slower when facing any two of a werejackal and their flunkies at once, compared to five or six. In these situations, it is also smart to kill the werejackal as soon as possible so that it cannot summon more. If polymorphed into a werejackal, it is possible to summon your own jackal pets, which can be used as meat shields or even polymorphed into better pets.


The giant ant first appears in Hack 1.21 and Hack for PDP-11, which are based on Jay Fenlason's Hack, and is included in the initial bestiary for Hack 1.0. In Hack 1.21, the jackal uses the j glyph, while in Hack for PDP-11 it uses the J glyph - it retains this glyph for Hack 1.0, and continues using it up to NetHack 2.3e. NetHack 3.0.0 establishes the canine monster class and moves the jackal to its current glyph.


Jackals are medium-sized canids native to Africa and Eurasia - the word "jackal" has historically been used for many canines of the subtribe Canina, but in modern use it most commonly refers to three species: the closely related black-backed jackal (Lupulella mesomelas) and side-striped jackal (Lupulella adusta) of sub-Saharan Africa, and the golden jackal (Canis aureus) of south-central Europe and Asia.

All jackals are opportunistic omnivores and proficient scavengers, preying on small to medium-sized animals. Their long legs and curved canine teeth are adapted for hunting small mammals, birds, and reptiles, and their large feet and fused leg bones give them a physique well-suited for long-distance running, capable of maintaining speeds of 16 km/h (10 mph) for extended periods of time. Jackals are most active at dawn and dusk, and their most common social unit is a monogamous pair: the pair defends its territory from other pairs by vigorously chasing intruders and marking landmarks around the territory. The territory may be large enough to hold some young adults, which stay with their parents until they establish their own territories. Jackals may occasionally assemble in small packs when scavenging, but normally hunt either alone or in pairs.

Like foxes and coyotes, jackals are often depicted as clever sorcerers in the myths and legends of their regions. The Bible frequently uses jackals as a literary device to illustrate desolation, loneliness, and abandonment, with reference to its habit of living in the ruins of former cities and other areas abandoned by humans. The jackal of the Indian Panchatantra stories is described as wily and wise, while the jackals of Bengali tantrik tradition represent the goddess Kali, who is said to appear as a group of jackals when meat is offered to her. The Serer people's religion and creation myth posits that jackals were among the first animals created by Roog, the Serer supreme deity.



In SLASH'EM, jackals do not randomly generate in Gehennom.

Jackals appear among the random d that are part of the second quest monster class for Yeomen and make up 6175 of the monsters randomly generated on the Yeoman quest. All of the above information also applies to SlashTHEM.


In Hack'EM, jackals can appear in the Yeomen quest as well, though unlike SLASH'EM they can also randomly generate in Gehennom.

Encyclopedia entry

In Asiatic folktale, jackal provides for the lion; he scares up game, which the lion kills and eats, and receives what is left as reward. In stories from northern India he is sometimes termed "minister to the king," i.e. to the lion. From the legend that he does not kill his own food has arisen the legend of his cowardice. Jackal's heart must never be eaten, for instance, in the belief of peoples indigenous to the regions where the jackal abounds. ... In Hausa folktale, Jackal plays the role of sagacious judge and is called "O Learned One of the Forest." The Bushmen say that Jackal goes around behaving the way he does "because he is Jackal".

[ Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore ]