All Donkeys Need a CompanionOne of the most important facts about donkeys that many people are not aware of, but which is at top of one’s mind when looking to rehome a donkey, is the donkey’s need for a friend
Companionship keeps donkeys healthy
Like many other animals, including humans, companionship is critical to maintaining the healthy physical, social and psychological well-being of a donkey.
Donkeys are extremely sociable animals and very sensitive. They form strong bonds with each other and often become best friends. So much so, that when a donkey loses a special best friend they become depressed, stop eating, and this can result in a potentially fatal disease called hyperlipaemia.
Donkeys Need Other Donkeys
One thing the Trust is very strong about is the need for a donkey to be with other donkeys. Yes, there are plenty of stories about donkeys befriending miniature ponies and goats or even a cat as has happened on occasion but their best companion will always be another donkey. Regardless of their current environment, donkey has a psychological need to be with other donkeys more than any other animal.
From a management point of view, it is also much easier to manage the diet of animals of the same species. For example a regular horse or pony’s system can manage significantly more pasture that a donkey can. Donkeys need a higher level of roughage than horses such as hay and straw but not a lot of pasture. If a donkey paired with another species does put on weight it would need to have its food intake limited, this would mean potentially separating it from its non-donkey friend. Whereas two donkeys can remain pretty much on the same diet. If one gets a bit overweight, age and health concerns aside, it would probably not hurt their friend to go on a bit of a diet as well!
Another thing to consider is that a companion donkey can give a warning if things are not well with its donkey friend. Donkeys are particularly stoic creatures and if unwell, the signs may be difficult to detect. However if a donkey friend, who has the same diet and conditions is not showing the same signs, this may give the owner reason for concern.
Donkey Bonds Are Strong
The very best reason for giving a donkey a donkey friend, is that donkeys love being with other donkeys. A single donkey invariably is better off joining a bonded pair of donkeys than being on its own. This is always preferable and can be a good interim measure while it waits for its human to find it its own best friend.
Bonded donkeys are very close. They graze together and are constantly near each other. If separated they can get distressed even if in the same paddock and end up calling frantically to each other and racing to be near.
This bonding is a major consideration when the Trust rescues and subsequently rehomes donkeys. We respect the unique relationship and would never part bonded donkeys. Likewise, we also only rehome single donkeys to homes with an existing donkey(s).
So please keep this in mind if you are thinking of getting a donkey – don’t get one donkey, get two!