University of Portsmouth research shows how donkeys despise the cold
In a journal, University of Portsmouth equine behaviour expert Dr Leanne Proops explains how donkeys seek shelter far more than horses when it starts to rain.
By contrast, the donkeys enjoy the warm sunshine much more.
Dr Proops said: ‘The sensitivity of mules to higher temperatures and sunlight may be due to the geographically different evolution of horses and donkeys and their adaptations to different climates.
‘Donkeys are better adapted to arid, hot climates and hence higher sunlight levels.
‘In contrast, horses are more adapted to cold conditions, and our previous research has shown that donkeys seek shelter far more often than horses in cold, wet conditions.’
A total of 130 donkeys and mules were studied in two locations in southern Spain in a seven-week period during the summer. In both locations, researchers recorded the animals’ need for shade.
All the animals in the study were healthy, had free access to shelter and were regularly monitored by vets from The Donkey Sanctuary.
Emily Haddy, a PhD student who also worked on the study, said: ‘It has been very interesting to see the results from this study.
‘Despite what equid owners may think, it is clear that different equid species have specific needs and so should be given free access to shelter.’
Dr Proops’ work is published in the Journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science.