Donkey Facts
 By Saferaphus   •   17th Nov 2017   •   272 views   •   0 comments

Horses have a few relatives. There are close relatives such as zebras, onagers and asses, and more distant relatives such as Tapirs and rhinoceros. But one relative that most of us know well is the donkey. Donkeys have a long history with humans, and they continue to be important today.

Donkeys and horses can live together and most of the diseases that horses get donkeys can get also. So the same health care you give your horse such as vaccinations and parasite control has to be given to a donkey, even though, it is Ďonly a petí. Donkeys tend to be a bit hardier than horses and less prone to leg problems. But, they may not be able to withstand cold weather as efficiently as horses. A recent study found that donkeys canít retain heat as well as horses do when the temperature dips. Donkeys donít grow a long winter coat like a horse, so they need blankets or shelters to keep them warm and dry.

There are lots of donkey breeds, each with their own characteristics. Of the over 150 different breeds, we here in North America are probably most familiar with the American Mammoth Jack, often crossed with horses to produce a large draft type mule or riding mule, and Miniature Donkeys, which are most often kept as pets.

Donkeys are the only domestic animal originating from Africa. Cattle, sheep, swine and every other domestic animal came from Asia or Europe. The donkey is a descendant of the wild African ass. Itís thought that they might have originated in Northern Africa, but it isnít certain. There is evidence that they were in use by the nomadic people of that area 5000 to 6000 years ago. Horses however, were domesticated at about the same time from animals in the grasslands of central Asia. Donkeys and horses can mate, and their offspring will be either a mule or a hinny. Some ancient civilizations preferred donkeys and mules to horses.

Donkeys first came across the ocean to the Western Hemisphere at about the same time as horses. Itís thought that Christopher Columbus brought donkeys with him on his second voyage in 1495. It wasnít until 1528 that the first donkey arrived with missionaries in what we now know as North America.

Animal Traction Development and University of Reading estimates that there are about 44 million donkeys worldwide. The greatest number is in China and Ethiopia. But, the number of donkeys worldwide is dwindling. Although they are still essential to many people as a beast of burden, donkeys are being harvested for their hides, a component of which is used to make a beauty product. In some places, this is causing economic hardships.

While they may be pets for many of us, donkeys continue to be important work animals contributing to many peopleís daily livelihoods. Most of the 44 million donkeys around the world have jobs alongside their owner. In many third world countries, donkeys are still used to carry loads, and to pull carts and farm implements. In some places, they are used as guard animals to protect sheep and goat herds from predators. They aren't as popular for riding in places like Europe and North America as they once were, but a small adult or child can ride a donkey and there are tourist spots that offer donkey sightseeing rides.

Donkeys can make good companions for horses, but a donkey owner has to be aware that they are far more stoic than horses. It may be harder to tell when a donkey is unwell. Horse owners may find their donkey learns faster than their horse. And, once theyíve learned something you don't want them to, itís hard for them to Ďunlearní it. The best way to train a donkey is with positive reinforcement as they are likely to remember any treatment they dislike.

1. PHYS: Donkey Winter Horses
2. News Scientist: Donkey Domestication
3. Practical Horseman: Donkey Companions
4. ATNESA: Donkey Populations
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Saferaphus
 More News by Saferaphus
Horse Body Language
24th Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
When we think of communication, we think of talking, or at least making noises. We humans are a noisy bunch, and talking is most often our chosen way of making our thoughts known. Yes, we use body language but it often isnít consc ...
Horse Buns and Sweet Feed
20th Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
So many news stories appear on feeds that just leave you shaking your head. Thieves, abusers and bad choices deserve large helpings of fresh horse buns. But, there are stories that help renew your faith that not everything is awfu ...
Horse Statuary
17th Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
There is a distinction between equine and equestrian statues. Equine statues are statues of horses only. An example would be the bronze statue of Secretariat at Belmont Park, which shows Secretariat running freely with his mane an ...
What is So Cool About Horse Sweat
14th Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
A long time ago, we believed that if a horse became lathered, it was a sign the horse was not fit. As it turns out, all horses will lather if they sweat a lot due to stress or hard work. A young or unfit horse probably just starts ...
Horse Braid Types
10th Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
Braids in horseís manes and tails arenít just pretty, they have a practical purpose too. They prevent the mane becoming tangled in the reins, flying in the riderís face, and keeping the mane itself tangle free. For horses shown wi ...
Making Money with Horses
7th Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
I was once told by a woman that as a youth rider, a company that specialized in equine health products used to throw money at her when she competed. Apparently for her, being sponsored by this company was the only way she could af ...
No Wild Horses Left
4th Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
Pretty much everything written about Przewalski's horses in the last few decades has claimed that they were the last true wild horses on the planet. We call many horse populations wild such as Mustangs, but they are feral, descend ...
Free Horse Stuff and Giveaways
3rd Mar 2018   |   General   |   Saferaphus
Ferreting out contests for free horse gear, horses and other horse paraphernalia isnít easy, but if you do, there is some really great stuff to be won. Hereís a look at some of the contests and sweepstakes available to horse lover ...
  View All News by Saferaphus
©2002 - 2018   PonyBox LLC Create Account Terms & Conditions Privacy Contact Us
126 Members Online 239,137 Registered Members 2,407 News Articles 9,874,042 Unique News Article Views 214,127,276 Website Views