Donkeys are fascinating animals, there are many facts that do not do them justice, such as being labeled as dumb animals, but I would like to share other surprising facts that many people may not know.
The truth is that donkeys like most equids have lived and served mankind for centuries, to survive until today they have been very resilient, intelligent, and extremely skilled animals.
Here are 10 interesting facts about donkeys you may not know.
1-Donkeys almost never sleep
Donkeys almost never sleep, in fact, they are one of the animals of the animal kingdom that sleeps the least, a donkey sleeps on average only 3 hours a day and they usually do it standing up, this is done as a sense of survival to stay alert of any danger.
2-Donkeys sleep standing up
This is due to the fact that mules have several sleep cycles. In one of these cycles, they can be semi-conscious and sleep standing up because they have a passive static apparatus that allows them to stand up while they sleep and release the weight of their whole body on their hind legs.
In order to be able to dream, a donkey must sleep lying down. To be able to dream, a donkey must sleep lying down, in this position they can sleep deeply, a donkey can sleep lying down only when it feels completely safe in its environment.
When lying down to sleep, donkeys can sleep on their sides when they feel completely secure, in this position they can sleep soundly.
3-Donkeys have very good vision in the dark
Donkeys have very good night vision, even though they are diurnal animals. Like horses, donkeys have a panoramic vision, that is, they cannot see what is right or behind them, just like humans, donkeys need to adapt their vision to light or darkness, hence the explanation why donkeys will stop for a while after being outside when they enter the stable.
4-Donkeys see better from a distance than up close
Don’t be surprised if donkeys react with aggression or fear before objects very close to their field of vision, this is because donkeys have a poor binocular vision, that is to say, they do not distinguish very well close objects, on the other hand, their peripheral and far vision is able to distinguish clearly objects, animals and people.
Donkeys devote a large part of the frontal cortex of their brain to collecting visual information, and can easily distinguish between a person and a predator.
5-Donkeys’ favorite bedding is straw
Although donkeys tend to sleep standing up, they prefer natural bedding material to lie on, the preferred bedding for donkeys when they decide to lie down is straw, it can be made of barley, wheat, or oats, the straw bedding has the particularity of being soft and not very absorbent, it is an easily recyclable organic material.
6-Donkeys are smarter than you can think
Despite being labeled as a clumsy animal and being synonymous with low intelligence, in reality, the donkey is much more intelligent than you might imagine, the donkey has a very good memory, a donkey can be smarter than a horse, which is another animal that has a good level of intelligence.
In fact, not so long ago, in some rural communities, when they had to lay out roads and they did not have surveyors or engineers available, donkeys were sent on the road and they walked the most appropriate route, the road was laid out where the donkey walked.
7-Donkeys recognize humans
As I mentioned previously, a large part of the donkey’s brain is dedicated to the collection of visual information, the donkey is able to recognize and distinguish humans, apart from that, the donkey is a very sensitive animal, that despite living in the wild can show signs of affection with the people who take care of him.
8-The donkey is not a solitary animal
Despite its calm appearance, donkeys can become very sad if they are kept alone all the time, this is due to the fact that donkeys are very sociable animals, they need the company of their own kind, The donkey is a sociable animal and should never be kept alone.
However, special care should be taken when putting several male donkeys together in the same stable, as they could potentially become aggressive towards each other.
Donkeys are also happy to be surrounded by other animals and are even ideal as herding donkeys for the sheep herd. They should never lack proper attention from their owners, for whom the donkey becomes a faithful companion.
9-Donkeys don’t like rain
Unlike horses, donkeys do not have a water repellent coat and are therefore susceptible to rain. Although the donkey is a very strong and resistant animal, it is susceptible to rain and low temperatures, so it requires a shelter where it can be sheltered in case of rainy days.
I wrote a whole topic with more details about why donkeys don’t like rain and their climate tolerance.
10-Donkeys show their teeth but not for laughing
I had written a detailed topic about why donkeys show their teeth, it is not to laugh, this reaction is common in some animals to perceive and detail odors, some animals, like cats and donkeys, retract their lips and open their mouth slightly showing their teeth, this action is done to receive smells in their Vomeronasal organ, a powerful scent analyzer located between the mouth and nose.