Scientific name: Equus africanus asinus
Other common names: Ass; Burro; Jack; Jenny
The modern domesticated Donkey is a descendant of the African Wild Ass, now considered an endangered species. Historically, the donkey is recorded as having been domesticated about the same time as the horse and became an essential beast of burden in ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Middle Eastern cultures because they could carry close to a third of their own body weight (horses can comfortably carry 20%).
Donkeys were introduced to different parts of the world but only became popular in the United States in the mid-1800s as pack animals for miners and gold prospectors. After the gold rush, many donkeys were released into the southwest deserts. In the 1900s, donkeys regained popularity as pets, farmland companions, guard animals, and for pulling carts and wagons.
Hybrids of male donkeys (Jacks) and female horses (Mares) are called Mules. The mating of a male horse and a female donkey produces a Hinny.
Please see the separate pages for the Mammoth Jack Donkey and Miniature Donkey. Also, there are a number of sub-types of the standard sized Donkey. Please see our pages for Australian Teamster Donkey, English / Irish Donkey, and the Poitou Donkey.
Appearance / health:
Donkeys often vary in body coloration, from black to gray, brown, or tan, but the common characteristics occur in most animals, such as dark markings on the ears and throat, and white markings around the eyes, on the muzzle, on the belly and inner legs. Most donkeys have a dark dorsal stripe and a shoulder cross. The ears are large and long. The back is straight. The mane is course and stiff. The standard donkey is about 44 inches tall.
A donkey’s health is dependent on its habitat and nutrition. They are typically hardy and resilient but can suffer from health problems if overfed. Vaccinations, de-worming medications, and hoof care are essential in keeping the donkey clean and healthy. The care and monitoring of a veterinarian is recommended.
Behavior / temperament:
Donkeys have become popular as pets and companion animals, even as guard animals because of their high intelligence. They became notorious for being stubborn, although this stubbornness is said to be the result of their strong sense of self-preservation –- no one can force them to do something they perceive as a threat to their survival, especially going into water. Donkeys are used as guard animals for herds of sheep, goats, and cattle because they are protective and can be aggressive when deterring predators. They are calm and good-natured, but will kick and bite when threatened. They emit a loud and persistent call referred to as a bray.
Housing / diet:
Donkeys are grazing animals and require pasture for food and fresh air. The recommended pasture area is an acre per donkey per month. Mammoth Jacks require slightly larger areas. A barn or similar enclosure must be available to shelter them from harsh climates. Donkeys do not like rain and snow because they easily chill and become susceptible to disease.
Donkeys are native to sparse deserts, therefore they require vegetation that is low in protein and high in fiber such as Timothy Hay or Bermuda Hay. A salt block should always be available for mineral supplements. Clean fresh water should also be available at all times. Treats like bite-size carrots can be offered sparingly. Donkeys enjoy eating and if allowed to self-feed will become obese and susceptible to various health risks.
great pets, endearing, intelligence, great companion animal, herd guards, developing country
bray, wet climates, little stubborn, dual personalities, mutual respect, screaming
dressage movements, good scratch, BLM, routine worming, ground manners
Unexpectedly perfect for my daughter
We moved into our new home April of 2017, two and a half months before my daughter was born. At the time our neighbor had a donkey. Over time this donkey got skinny and eventually escaped constantly. The neighbor always acted concerned, but never did much about it. The entire community tried to help. The poor thing eventually ended up tied to a rope where she got all wrapped up constantly unable to reach water. We had had enough the day the donkey snapped the lead and ended up confronting her owner about it. After some talk, we all decided it would be best for everyone for her to sign her over to us and we became donkey owners September 2018. She was thrilled to come over and make friends with my horses after being alone for so long. What we didn't know was how much she would turn out to love my young daughter. Her and my daughter ended up sticking like glue to each other. She is so gentle and kind to my daughter where she is typically wary of an adult. She follows my daughter like a lost puppy when she's outside . She is easy to handle, easy to feed, and does not take up much space. Her only drawback is that she tends to bray a lot and usually it is when my daughter is napping. Otherwise she has been an absolute light in our family and so appreciative of our saving her. If I had the space, I would definitely own an entire herd of them. I still recommend people research the animal before getting one as their dietary needs are not the same as a horse. They can get overweight rather easily. .
From Eqwuus Jan 4 2019 7:18PM
If your donkey has a wound and it is not healing well the vet may want to take a culture of the exudate to see what antibiotics would be the most effective treatment. Surgery may need to be preformed by the vet in order to debride the wound, clean it out and suture it up. .
From EmLVT 615 days ago
I do not enjoy donkeys.
One summer I lived and worked on a farm that happened to have two donkeys, they didn't really have any job or purpose around the farm, except perhaps keeping the grass trimmed around the house, I think they were just kept there because the kids liked them.
Both donkeys were very hardy and managed to cope with the hot summers and extremely cold Finnish winters. They required very little maintenance except a quick daily brush to get the dust out of their fur and having the snow taken out of their hooves before they were put in the stable overnight. They also cost practically nothing to feed as they were to munch on whatever they could find and would eat practically any leftovers we gave them. Health wise I think the only problems they ever had were with mites that were easily treatable.
Saying that I really didn't like these animals, they were a hassle to handle and would usually run if you approached them (especially if they knew we were taking them inside for the night) often at this time they would run around the farm in circles and take ages to catch. They would also escape to the neighbours fields and eat his corn which resulted in some angry phone calls. They could be quite aggressive and on one occasion one bite me and left a nasty bruise, I was always worried they would kick someone.
Overall I thought they were more hassle than they were worth but if you want a donkey its up to you (I have no idea why anyone would want a donkey)..
From Chelta Jan 8 2015 7:32AM