Have you ever wondered if the most underrated species on Earth could be surprisingly intelligent? Yes, we are talking about burros, commonly known as donkeys. These incredible animals never hesitate to surprise us in many ways. From their remarkable memory to their impressive physical strength, they exemplify qualities that often go unnoticed.
Their adaptability and resilience in various environments make them fascinating. In short, they consistently prove themselves to be much more than what meets the eye. So here we are, ready to go deep into 10 of the most fun facts about burros that will hook you until the end. Let's begin.
10 Of The Most Fun Facts About Donkeys
Donkeys are amazing creatures. Here are some of their unique characteristics:
They Have Extremely Large Ears
Most of the donkeys evolved in dry areas in Asia and Africa, where they are usually found in herds. Their long and large ears increase their hearing sense, which helps them hear the sounds of other herd burros, as well as predators, from afar.
Since they have evolved in arid locations, their long ears help with heat dissipation. The large surface area of a donkey’s ears helps it get rid of heat quickly so that it can stay cool in hot environments such as deserts.
Their Vocalization Is Truly One-Of-A-Kind
The sound that burros make is called braying. This sound is unique amongst all the equids because it can only be made by these creatures and not by horses or zebras. Donkeys can vocalize while inhaling and exhaling.
The characteristic hee-haw occurs like this: hee during inhaling air and haw during exhaling. While this sound is characteristic of all burros, there is still some variation. The duration and frequency of a bray are different for each of them, and hence, all donkeys make somewhat different voices.
What’s the hairiest donkey breed?
Poitou is a region in France, and the breed that was developed here is called the Poitou donkey. It stands out amongst all such other breeds because of its unique appearance.
This breed was made in the 18th century. They have a long and thick coat. The burros that have a longer and thicker coat are considered more special.
As there was a decline in the use of burros and mules in recent times, poitou breeding also decreased. In 1977, only 44 such donkeys were left. But since then, their numbers have increased, thanks to conservation efforts and private breeders.
The Mix Of Hybrid Donkeys
Donkeys have a lot of hybrids. As they are similar to zebras and horses, they can mate with them and produce hybrid offspring. In the past, these hybrids were produced abundantly because mules were very popular workers. The different types of burro hybrids have different names.
Here are some breed names:
- Mule: the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse
- Hinny: the offspring of a female donkey and a male horse
- John Mule: the male offspring of a horse and a donkey
- Molly: the female offspring of a horse and a donkey
- Jule/Donkule: the offspring of a male donkey and a female mule
- Hule: the offspring of a male horse and a female mule
- Zebra Hinny/Zebret/Zebrinny: the hybrid of a male donkey and a female zebra
- Zebroid/Zebrass/Zedonk: the hybrid of a female donkey and a male zebra.
Donkeys As Guard Animals
Naturally, burros are aggressive toward canids. They can, hence, be used as guardians for farm animals. They can easily defend their herd against dogs, foxes, coyotes, and even bobcats. Hence, the herd starts to see them as guardians and protectors and will move to them if they sense any danger.
Donkeys Are Stronger Than Horses
Contrary to popular belief, donkeys are stronger than horses. As a result of this, they are used globally as cheap workers and, a lot of times, pushed to their endurance limits. They have been used for centuries as pack animals, mainly because they can walk in almost any kind of terrain.
The Varying Donkey Sizes
While the average height of burros ranges from 36 to 48 inches and weighs about 181 to 227 kilograms, they are found in a lot of varying sizes. KneeHi is considered the shortest donkey in the world by the Guinness World Records. KneeHi stands at a height of 24.29 inches.
On the contrary, the tallest donkey in the world is Romulus, as certified by the Guinness World Records. Romulus stands at a height of 68 inches and weighs about 590 kilograms.
Donkeys have mainly lived in groups and herds, which has made them quite social. They can develop friendships and deep bonds with other donkeys that they live with.
Just like other such animals, a pair bond can be developed between two close donkeys. It has been proven by scientific research that separating such donkeys is not good for the pair. This can cause things like depression and even a loss of appetite for them.
It is hence advised that instead of a single donkey, a pair should be bought. If that’s not possible, they should be placed in an environment where they have some potential friends, like horses or zebras.
The Extinction Of Donkey Ancestors
Wild donkeys are of two main types: the Asiatic donkey and the African donkey. However, the ancestors of the domesticated donkeys found today are African donkeys. Even though they were domesticated about 5,000 years ago, they are in danger of being extinct.
The African wild burro is critically endangered, with only between 23 and 200 wild adults left in the world. This mainly happened because it was used for medicinal and food purposes. However, a lot of conversational efforts are happening in order to save these species.
Donkeys are quite often known for their stubborn and obstinate behavior. Sometimes, they would stay fixed in their place despite someone trying to pull them hard. This isn’t because they’re dull or dumb, as is commonly believed. Actually, it’s the opposite.
They have a strong sense of self-preservation. When they feel unsafe, rather than running away, they would stand still in their place and take time to make their decision. On the other hand, horses flee when presented with such a situation.
Get Ready To Bray With Laughter
Some Other Amazing Donkey Facts
- Because of the positioning of their eyes, they can see all four of their feet at the same time.
- Their digestive system is extremely efficient and can utilize about 95% of everything they eat.
- Burros have worked for humans for more than 5,000 years and are still a source of income for families across the world.
- A healthy breed can live up to 50 years of age.
- A blind donkey can be friends with a sighted donkey, and it will act as its guide.
- These species can easily walk through almost all kinds of terrain.
- They possess a certain level of delightful curiosity. They are also a lot more intelligent than popular opinion. They can also learn things easier than many of their peers.
- Burros has a strong memory and can even remember things as old as 25 years ago.
- A private organization called The Donkey Sanctuary is known for providing donkey-assisted therapy to human adults and kids. These therapies are held to induce life skills, empathy, and self-esteem among people.
- They walk at a slow, steady pace generally, but they love to play and run around as well.
Donkeys are arguably the most underrated animals in the world. They are innocent and kind, yet strong and stubborn. They have their own way of getting what they want. Most importantly, they have helped humanity more than any other animal in the world.
How many donkeys are there in the world?
There are about 50.5 million donkeys in the world. There are many hybrid donkeys, too, such as horse-donkey hybrids and zebra-donkey hybrids, which add up to that overall donkey population.
Where are burros found on Earth?
Being originally from Africa, donkeys have now spread across the globe. 50% of them are found in Asia, and almost all are used for work. About 25% of donkeys are found in Africa, and the remaining 25% are in Latin America.
What do burros eat?
Like horses and zebras, donkeys, too, are herbivorous. They graze grasslands if they’re wild or in the shape of herds. If they are domesticated, they are usually fed plant-based diets. A good-quality burro feed consists of barley straw or oat straw, and in some cases, supplemental hay is given if the donkey isn’t maintaining good body health.
How long do burros live?
The average burro age ranges from 27 to 40 years if they are being held with care. Wild burros usually have a lifespan of 25 to 30 years.
What’s the average donkey's size?
The standard donkey's height is about 36 to 48 inches, and its weight is about 181 to 227 kilograms. However, the shortest reported donkey was 24.29 inches tall, and the tallest donkey was 68 inches tall.