So, you think you want a burro?

Here are some interesting facts about burros and things to think about …

  • Burros and Donkeys are the same animal and their scientific name is Equus Asinus. People tend to refer to domestics as “donkeys” and the formerly wild critters by the Spanish name “burro.” A mule is not the same. It is a cross between a horse and a donkey, so only HALF donkey.
  • Burros are desert-adapted animals. They originated in North Africa and came to North America with the Spanish Conquistadors and Missionaries. If you keep a burro in SW Colorado, they will need shelter from the sun, rain, and snow; and they will need to be blanketed or kept in a barn during periods of freezing rain.
  • There are differences between burros and horses. Burros don’t have the undercoat horses have. They don’t have oil glands in their coat, so they don’t have a smell. They don’t have forelocks (the hair that hangs down on the forehead). Their tail is more like a broom rather than a full tail. And they only have chestnuts, which are little leathery patches on a burro, on the inside of their front legs whereas the horse has them on all 4 legs.
  • Burros come in 3 sizes: mini, standard, and mammoth. Domestic donkeys can come in all these sizes but wild burros are only standards.
  • Burros don’t like baths (with water) but they LOVE dust baths, which help them to keep the flies and other insects at bay.
  • A burro cannot live alone. They form very strong bonds and it is usually BEST for there to be 2 burros. Some burros can relate well to horses but that is not true for all of them, as some are afraid of horses. The success of the relationship depends mostly on the horse, which will always be dominant. If the horse doesn’t like the burro, it isn’t going to work.
  • Burros LOVE to play and run. They cannot be kept full-time in a stall. Given the space, they will play-fight together, run laps and bray with joy.
  • Burros cannot be left on pasture without getting obese, which leads to health issues. Because they are desert-adapted animals, their digestive system is set up to maximize nutrient absorption from anything they eat, so unlimited pasture can actually endanger the health of a burro.
  • Burros gain weight first in the crest of their neck and in pads on their back. The top of the neck will get very round like a big tube and if it gets too fat, it will break over to the side. Once this happens, it’s irreversible.
  • Burros are very stoic and once they show that they aren’t feeling well, it is usually an emergency situation that requires a veterinarian.
  • Burros are both browsers and grazers. This means that they will eat ground-level plants like grass AND branches. They can strip and eat tree bark, so it is important to make sure you watch your trees and fence them off if you don’t want the burros to kill them by stripping the bark.
  • Burros require the same time of consistent care as a horse: worming, vaccinations, hoof care, etc.
  • A well-adjusted burro loves human companionship.
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