The donkey is a herbivorous animal and the smallest member of
the horse family.
Ass is the correct term for the animal known as the donkey, burro,
or jackstock. The young of a donkey is called a foal. A young male is
a colt and a young female a filly. The correct name for a female
donkey is jenny and the correct name for a male donkey is jack.
A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. A
hinny is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey.
There are three categories of donkeys. Miniatures are 36 inches
and under. Standards are between 36 and 54 inches. Mammoths are over
54 inches. All measured to the shoulder.
Donkeys originated in the African Desert and are a descendant of
the African Wild Ass. The African Wild Ass is one of the most
endangered animals in the world.
Wild donkeys, called burros, live in desert plains, where they
can survive on little food and water for long periods.
The weight of donkeys ranges up to 570 pounds. They have gray to
reddish brown hair, long ears and small feet, with sharp hooves.
Donkeys are very affectionate animals and enjoy the
companionship of people. Donkeys need companions or they will become
Donkeys can live for 25 to 35 years of age. However, donkeys in
third world countries seldom live over 10 years.
Jennies are pregnant for one full year and usually give birth one
foal. Twins are very rare.
Donkeys are used as guard animals for goats and sheep against the
threat of coyote attack. They are also used to protect cows while
calving. The coyote is the only natural threat to donkeys. Donkeys
therefore do not like any canines.
Donkeys can easily carry 30% of their body weight in live load and
20% in dead weight.
The donkey's favorite pastime is rolling.
Miniature donkeys (36 inches and under) are native to the
Mediterranean Islands of Sicily and Sardinia. They have been
extensively bred in the United States and are almost extinct in the
land of their origin. The breed is called the Miniature Mediterranean
The rare French Poitou donkey is characterized by a huge head and
ears and very thick, shaggy curled black coat. The Poitou can stand 56
to 60 inches high.
George Washington owned the first donkeys born in the United
Spanish explorers during the 1600 brought many standard donkeys to
the Americas as pack animals.
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