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The origin of donkeys is not really clear, but they are known to have existed as far back as 1717. It has been said that the donkey and practice of mule breeding was introduced to the Poitou region of France by the Romans.
The Poitou ass is known for its large size, the only other mule that comes close to this size is the Andalucian ass of Europe.
Donkeys evolved in the desert, because food was usually scarce. The donkey voice, his mighty bray, is used to keep in contact with other donkeys and to mark their territories. Their large funnel ears can catch the distant calls and helps dissipate some of the hot desert heat.
Donkeys also have tough compact hooves that can handle sand and rock. Their woolly hair insulates from desert heat and cold. They have a digestive system that can break down almost anything that is inedible roughage.
Donkeys come in different colors, but gray dun is the most notable. There are some that are spotted, white donkeys, different shades of brown, blacks, sorrels, even a few pink donkeys. Most will have white muzzles, eye rings, and light colored bellies.
Donkeys are very aware of their surroundings and are very cautious animals. If they think they are in danger, they will refuse to move another step. Donkeys make a great protector if put in with a herd of sheep or goats.
There are different sizes of donkeys. Miniature donkeys are native to the Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia. The adult miniature donkey is no more than 36 inches tall when mature, and averages a weight of 250
to 450 pounds. Life expectancy for well cared miniature donkeys is about 30 to 35 years of age.
Standard donkeys range in height of 36 to 48 inches tall.
Large Standard donkeys range in height of 48 to 56 inches tall.
Mammoth Jack Stock range in height of 54 inches and up for jennets (female donkeys)56 inches and up for jacks (male donkeys).
Donkeys are known to be one of the most intelligent and friendliest known animals, but should not be left by itself. They need companionship.