The children of Abbeygate School near Chester have sent the following list of questions and I shall try to answer them in the next day or two:
Questions for Mr Thomas – J5 2016
- What do the donkeys eat and what is their favourite food?
Donkeys eat mostly straw: they do not need much protein. They are given some alfalfa (a type of grass) mixed with it so it tastes nice! For treats, donkeys like carrots and apples.
- How many teeth do donkeys have?
Like humans they have baby front teeth which fall out when they are about two years old, then they grow more. The first time I saw this was when Rubí’s front teeth were falling out and I was alarmed because I thought she had been kicked! But all was well.
- How heavy are the donkeys?
They won’t fit on the bathroom scales, so we have to work it out. The calculations are on the earlier blog post.
- Are the donkeys easy animals to look after?
They need a lot of work!
- Would you recommend them as a pet?
Yes, they are very affectionate and quite often amusing, but you need to have at least two: they need company.
- How old are your donkeys?
Matilde is eight and a half; Rubí is seven and a half; the two youngsters are both five.
- Can your donkeys jump?
Matilde jumped over the manger once, to escape the man who comes to trim their hooves. But usually not…
- Which is the loudest donkey?
Definitely Morris, who can be heard from about five kilometres away.
- What is your donkeys’ favourite walk?
They like walking anywhere really, but particularly into villages where people make a fuss of them.
- When female donkeys are pregnant do they look fat or obese?
They grow very wide and when they are lying down they look like a beached whale.
- Do donkeys have good eye sight?
Extraordinary all-round vision. They can see behind them: this is very important in the wild. Think about lions. Donkeys do think about lions a lot…
- How old were Matilde and Rubi when they had their babies?
Do the arithmetic from question 6…
- How tall are the donkeys when they are fully grown?
All different. Matilde is the tallest but I haven’t yet measure her as she is still running away from the yellow snake with numbers on it. (Tape measure.) See last blog post for details…
- How often do you have to clean their living area out?
Twice a day usually and it takes about an hour each day.
- Who is the oldest donkey?
Arithmetic from Question 6…
- Have you ever ridden your donkeys?
No, I just like walking with them. They would need training to ride and I am not sure any of them would be sensible!
- Who is the cheekiest donkey?
Aitana definitely is the most mischievous: she is always trying to open gates and get to things she is not meant to eat by pushing at the fences. Morris is cheeky in a different way because he does things like snatching my hat and running off with it.
- Can Aitana carry things like Matilde can?
Usually not: she is too small for the big bags but has carried little baskets sometimes.
- Do your donkeys like the beach?
They have all been to the beach but will not go anywhere near the water. Think crocodiles. Donkeys do think of crocodiles.
- How many walks do they have each day and how much exercise do they needs?
Usually one walk a fortnight each.
- What do they do when you are at work?
I don’t know because I’m not there, but I imagine things like knitting or playing badminton. I bought them a ball but they wouldn’t play with it when I was there, but neighbours told me they always played with the ball when I was away!
- How many times a day do you feed the donkeys?
Two feeds a day.
- How much food do donkeys eat each day and who is the greediest?
Matilde is the greediest. She fights Morris for dominating the food and she usually wins. They eat half a bale of straw between them in each feed, plus a little grain to help their digestion.
- How much does it cost to keep donkeys?
Food, vet bills, farrier (hooves), and things like maintenance of their field (fences, stable, gates) costs about
- How long have you had your donkeys for?
Since 2010 when I bought my first one, Rubí.
- What are the birth dates of your donkeys?
Matilde and Rubí have birthdays in June and Morris and Aitana in October.
- When do donkeys sleep and for how long?
They sleep on and off during the day, sitting or standing up, and at night they usually spend much of the darker hours sitting down dozing. They snore loudly sometimes.
- Would you like more donkeys?
No, there is a limit!
- How do you know when donkeys are old?
They live to about forty. They begin to get frail, like people as they get older.That’s all I have time for now, I’m afraid! A lot of questions…14/10/16 Finishing the questions!
- How did you choose their names? Rubí and Matilde were named when I bought them. I named Morris because the day after he was born he was joing little dancing jumps like a Morris dancer. Aitana is named after the mountains we can see nearby and it is also a popular girls’ name locally.
- What is their favourite thing to do? They have coloured plastic buckets which they stamp on and throw in the air. They also like throwing old wellington boots around the field.
- Who is the fastest? Morris.
- Can they do any tricks? The only trick they can do is making food disappear.
- Can you tell us about their habitat? Their natural habitat is dry country with very sparse vegetation: that’s why they shouldn’t eat top much green grass. Their domestic habitat at home is quite similar.
- What age to donkeys usually live to? 40 typically. (The oldest donkey in the Donkey Sanctuary in Devon died earlier this year at the age of 50.)
- Do you know why donkeys have long ears? Good question. Their ears give them all-round warning of approaching predators. They have developed long ears to cool their blood – as it circulates through their ears they act like a car radiator and bring down the temperature.
- Do the donkeys like the dark? They have exceptional eyesight and are quite active for part of the darkness hours, sleeping in short intervals.
- How old do they need to be before they can carry loads and what do they carry? Donkeys can carry as much as their own weight when they are adult (3yrs plus) and on many poorer countries they are the main transport for crops, building materials and even act as ambulances with special seats to carry patients.