Does the Donkey Freeze in Winter?

A UK study compared the coat texture of horses, mules, and donkeys.

The donkey is not a long-eared horse

The evolutionary history of donkeys ( Equus asinus ) and horses ( Equus caballus ) differ. The E. asinus lineage is believed to have separated from the E. caballus lineage between 3.4 and 3.9 million years ago. The domesticated donkey descends from two African subspecies whose natural range was not as far north as that of prehistoric horses. Physiology, behavior, and thus also the demands on their keeping differ. Donkeys are considered frugal and hardy animals, but it can be assumed that they are adapted to a warmer and drier climate than that of northern Europe. For example, donkeys are more likely than horses to suffer from hypothermia and skin diseases.

The study examined the fur of 18 donkeys, 16 horses (British draft horses and ponies), and eight mules. Hair weight, length, and cross-section were determined in March, June, September, and December. The animals were disease-free and kept in open stables. The hair samples were taken in a standardized way from the middle of the neck.

No winter fur

The horses showed significant coat changes over the year with a clear increase in thickness in winter. The skin of the donkeys, on the other hand, showed no significant change. In the measurements made, the donkey fur in winter was significantly lighter, thinner, and shorter compared to the fur of the horse and mule, suggesting that the donkey does not grow a winter coat. The hair characteristics of the mules more closely resembled those of the horses than those of the donkeys but fell overall between those of the parent species. Donkeys are therefore less well adapted to the weather conditions in Great Britain than horses and mules.

To ensure the well-being and health of donkeys, the attitude must be adapted to this special feature. Wind and waterproof shelters are essential when keeping donkeys. But even mules might need more weather protection than horses of Northern European origin due to the intermediate properties of their coat. Special husbandry regulations for donkeys and mules should raise awareness of the special needs of these animals. Other weather-insulating mechanisms such as fat content, hair shaft structure, and the occurrence and ratio of different hair types in the Equus species have not yet been explored.

Frequently Asked Question

Are donkeys sensitive to cold?

Keeping and care:

Donkeys need dry ground because their delicate hooves are prone to thrush. Rain and cold are poorly tolerated, as their fur quickly gets soaked due to the lack of self-greasing.

How does a donkey spend the winter?

Donkeys now get winter fur and are more temperature resistant than you might think. It is always said that they can tolerate a few degrees below -10°C. The wet cold is worse. The barn should be windproof, but you should make sure that the ammonia from the urine and the nitrogen can escape.

Can donkeys get cold?

Donkeys have very good thermoregulation and don’t get cold that easily. Donkeys feel most comfortable at temperatures between 5 °C and 15 °C, which is also noticeable in the increased activity during this time.

What do donkeys eat in winter?

The feed must be reduced accordingly when grazing. Depending on the size of the animals and the nature of the pasture, grazing must be limited to a few hours a day. Here and there a branch to gnaw, a carrot or apple in winter makes donkeys happy.

What can donkeys not tolerate?

They cannot eat fruit and vegetables such as apples or nuts because their gastrointestinal tract cannot digest them. However, if you want to feed a hedgehog, you must never do so with snails or earthworms, as these animals often transmit internal parasites that can make the hedgehog even sicker.

What does it mean when a donkey screams?

The donkeys speak up when they are playing or waiting for their food, so there is a late-night snack for the long-eared ones to prevent loud “food orders” at night.

Are donkeys afraid of water?

A challenging situation, because donkeys are afraid of water.

Is a donkey wise?

To this day, the donkey is not considered very intelligent, although it is a very clever animal. In dangerous situations, the donkey assesses the situation and does not immediately flee as other animals would. This shows his intelligence. Donkeys are very good protectors.

Are donkeys aggressive?

Because unlike horses, which tend to flee in such situations, donkeys stop, weigh things up and observe the situation seemingly calmly. However, they can also attack aggressively and, for example, bite or kick with their front hooves, example when foreign animals invade their territory.

Are donkeys nice?

Donkeys are very sociable and good-natured animals and make friends. This is evident from the physical proximity, social grooming, physical contact, and sharing food with conspecifics.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *