All About the Ass / Donkey

The donkey is also known as an ass or burro. They are found worldwide and are members of the Equidae family, which also includes zebras and horses.

While they look like a lot of their cousins, they have a stockier build than a zebra or horse.

They are found worldwide and are members of the Equidae family, which also includes zebras and horses. While they look like a lot of their cousins, they have a stockier build than a zebra or horse.

What You Should Know

While donkeys can be found throughout the world, wild donkeys live in savannas and deserts of northern Africa and the Middle East. Donkeys prefer to live in warm, dry areas. Male donkeys are known as jacks while the female is known as a jenny.

The donkey is a social animal and likes to live in a herd. Each herd has one jack as the leader with several jennies. In larger herds, there can be several males. During the day, the donkey rests, especially when it is hot. They spend most of the morning and later evening traveling and eating.

Domestic donkeys are essential for milk and as pack animals. They can be trained to protect livestock and will stomp their feet at the first sign of a threat.

Donkeys eat grass, shrubs, and desert plants. They consume up to 6,000 pounds of food each year. Feral donkeys quickly move into a new habitat and take food from the other local animals.

What Sound Do They Make?

The donkey is known for making a “hee-haw” sound. This is referred to as braying. In the UK, they call it Eeyore instead.

Listen to the top five donkey sounds with this video clip.

Group Characteristics

Donkeys aren’t particular about who joins their herd, and they have no care about what other donkeys they breed with either. They’ve even been known to breed with zebras and horses. With a jack and a female horse, you get a mule. The jenny and a male horse produce the hinny. Most hybrids remain sterile and can’t produce any more offspring.

Donkeys carry their babies for 12 months. These babies are known as foals. The foal weighs between 19 and 30 pounds at birth. It will stand within 30 minutes. By five months old, the foal is weaned. By two years old, it is ready to mate. The female donkey gives birth to one foal every year.

How Many are There?

Domestic donkeys don’t face a threat of becoming endangered. The same assessment is not true for wild asses. In fact, the IUCN lists the African wild ass as critically endangered with a count of only 23 to 200 left in the wild.

Watch a Video

Learn more facts about the donkey with this informative video.

If you need a little laugh in your day, you’ll enjoy this fun compilation.

Pop Culture

While donkeys appear in many books and movies, two especially stand out from recent years. The first is Eeyore that’s a famed character from the Winnie the Pooh series. He’s a depressed donkey who always sees the bad in life.

The other one is conveniently named Donkey. He is the fun-loving pal of Shrek. What’s funny about him is how much he enjoys talking and driving others around him a little crazy.

Interesting Facts

When a horse gets scared, it bolts or jumps, but the same isn’t true with a donkey. Instead, this species freezes and waits to figure out what scared it. This is why they are often known as being stubborn. Aside from the moments when fright sets in, they are obedient animals.

According to the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS), 189 donkey breeds are recorded.

Female donkeys produce milk that is consumed by humans. It’s also used in dairy products and produces pule cheese. A benefit of this milk is the hypoallergenic properties. It’s a great alternative to anyone with an allergy to cow’s milk. Some pediatric hospitals even offer it because it’s gentle on the stomach. Donkey milk is also used in medicines and cosmetics. Hippocrates praised the benefits of donkey milk for modern medicine.