Donkeys resemble horses and are characterized by their large head, long ears, and cow-like tail. They come in black, white, paint, and all shades of brown and gray, but the most common is a mousy gray color called gray dun. Many donkeys are spotted, speckled, or striped. Most solid-color donkeys have a dark dorsal stripe from mane to tail and a dark stripe across their shoulders. They have an erect mane and lack the forelock of a horse. Their hair can be straight, curly, short and wiry, or long and wooly. Wild asses average 200 cm in body length, 45 cm in tail length, 125 cm at the shoulder, and weight 250 kg. Domestic breed size varies greatly depending on breed. Miniatures, the smallest breed of donkeys, stand less than 36 inches (92 cm) at the shoulder and weigh less than 400 pounds (180 kg). Standard donkeys, the average-sized breed, range from 36 inches to 48 inches (92 cm to 123 cm) and weigh 400 to 500 pounds (180 to 225 kg). Mammoth stock, the largest breed of donkeys, stand at an average height of 56 inches (143 cm) and weigh about 950 pounds (430 kg). Miniature and mammoth stock donkeys have been bred by humans to possess certain characteristics that are more desirable or suitable for specific purposes. For example, miniature donkeys are often preferred as pets because their small size makes them easier to care for, and the larger mammoth stock donkeys are stronger work animals than standard donkeys are. There is generally very little sexual dimorphism in donkeys. Wild asses have the longest and narrowest hooves of any Equus species.
Average mass: 250 kg.
Average length: 200 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike
Average mass: 250000 g.
Average basal metabolic rate: 164.92 W.
- Edwards, E., C. Geddes. 1988. The Complete Horse Book. North Pomfret, Vermont: Trafalgar Square Publishing.
- The Encyclopaedia Brittanica, 15th ed., Vol. 4, 1992. Chicago: University of Chicago.
- Oklahoma State University, 1996. "Donkey Breeds" (On-line). Accessed September 29, 2000 at http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/other/donkey/.
- Oklahoma State University, 1996. "Miniature" (On-line). Accessed October 2, 2000 at http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/other/donkey/mini/.