Donkeys – The 14 Facts You Should Know Before Getting One

Donkeys are a beautiful pet to have and they come with a lot of benefits. They can be used for riding, working on farms, guarding livestock, or just being your best friend. But before you get one there are some things that you should know about them! Here are 14 things to know about them before getting one so let’s get started!

What is the Difference Between Donkey and Mule?

Donkeys are domesticated asses who have been bred for centuries and become their own species. A mule is a hybrid of a male donkey with a female horse.

Unlike donkeys, mules are sterile and can’t have any offspring of their own. Mules are also known for their impressive strength.

What Two Animals Make a Donkey?

Since donkeys are their own species, you simply need a male and female donkey to make a new donkey. Many farmers and animal husbandry specialists will call the male a jackass and the female a jenny-ass, but they’re both members of the same species.

Originally, wild equines were probably captured to produce an animal that somewhat resembles the modern donkey. These creatures were bred over a long period of time to produce the kind of domestic donkeys that you can breed today.

Why is a Donkey Called a Jackass?

Only male donkeys are called jackasses. Donkeys belong to a family of animals called asses, which is where the term comes from.

Jack is used to referring to the animal’s gender. Females are known as jenny-asses.

While these terms might sound pretty funny to most people, the term ass actually isn’t an insult at all. It got confused with the word arse, which refers to an animal’s hindquarters.

Can Donkeys Reproduce?

Assuming that they’re healthy and not neutered, male and female donkeys can reproduce to make more donkeys. A male donkey can reproduce with a female horse to produce mules, but mules can’t have more offspring.

Very rarely, male horses can inseminate a female donkey. The resulting hybrid is sometimes called a hinny and looks quite a bit different from a mule, but it too is sterile.

Do Donkeys Make Good Pets?

As long as you have enough room for them and are prepared to put work into the relationship you have with your animals, donkeys can make excellent pets. They’re relatively energetic even though they’ve been stereotyped to have a stubborn demeanor.

Depending on you raise your donkey, you may even be able to use it as a beast of burden. Don’t ever push your donkey too far, however, because it’s still a living animal.

What Are Donkeys Good For?

Some people ride donkeys, but they’re best known for their ability to pull carts. On non-mechanized farms, they’re one of the most common beasts of burden.

Since they tend to be quite mellow, donkeys make decent companion animals. They’re also good for keeping down lawn growth, though they shouldn’t be allowed to eat excessive amounts of rich grass because it’s bad for their digestion.

Are Donkeys Intelligent?

According to a 2013 study conducted by the Donkey Sanctuary, asses can learn at about the same rate as dogs or dolphins. That makes them extremely intelligent animals who can learn from experience and hold onto new skills for a long time.

A skilled handler can teach donkeys tricks, but more practically they can teach donkeys to perform a wide array of useful tasks on farms. Donkeys have long been used to pull carts not only because of their strength but also their superior sense of direction.

Do Donkeys Mate With Cows?

Male donkeys will sometimes try to mount female cattle, which is a dangerous proposition. They need to be kept apart for this reason.

While their genes are so different they can’t make hybrids, donkeys might try to do the deed with cattle. If they try, then a cow might kill them in self-defense.

Are Donkeys Friendly?

Despite many of the stereotypes surrounding them, donkeys can be quite friendly if socialized properly. Introducing yourself to a new donkey while speaking in a slow voice is a good way to ensure you’ll make friends.

Don’t put your hand above a donkey’s snout until you know them well. Donkeys might take this as a sign of aggression otherwise.

Do Humans Eat Donkeys?

While it’s relatively uncommon around the world, some people raise donkeys for their meat. Certain delicacies in Italy and China call for select cuts of donkey meat.

Italian and Croat culinary culture has also occasionally promoted donkey milk as an alternative dairy product. The milk they make tends to be somewhat expensive, so it’s used sparingly.

Do Donkeys Kill Dogs?

Scared donkeys will trample dogs if they feel threatened. While they might look slow, donkeys can actually run at decent speeds so they’re able to chase down dogs that might appear to be threatening them.

Properly socialized donkeys normally won’t kill dogs, but they’re still likely to try trampling them if they feel like they’re in any danger. Conversely, some dogs might try to bite a donkey’s throat or legs if they felt like they were going to be harmed by the larger animal.

Are Donkeys Scared of Dogs?

Any donkey that hasn’t met many dogs while growing up may end up scared or at least leery of them. You can raise young donkeys alongside young dogs, however, and both animals will normally get along if they’re introduced properly.

There’s nothing special about dogs that make donkeys scared of them, so it’s possible to teach older donkeys to get used to them. You’ll want to introduce your donkeys and dogs to one another slowly, however, to avoid any unfortunate confrontations.

Do Donkeys Keep Snakes Away?

Several farmers have said that due to their size and the noise they make, donkeys will keep away coyotes and other animals with large ears. It’s a little harder to tell whether or not they actually keep away snakes, however.

Since they have powerful hooves and snakes normally avoid noticeable vibrations, donkeys may scare off snakes and other similar ground predators. They may even keep away squirrels or raccoons depending on the type of terrain they live on.

Are Donkeys Smarter than Horses?

Since measuring intelligence is at least somewhat subjective, the jury is still out on whether or not donkeys are smarter than horses. Noted UK-based sanctuary research assistant Kristin Hayday contends that both donkeys and mules are smarter than horses.

Other research specialists have stated that donkeys learn at just about the same rate as domesticated dogs and most cetaceans. However, horses usually master social skills more quickly.

As a result, they generally have better emotional awareness than horses and will get along better with dogs and other farm animals.