Skip to main content
sdzglibrarybanner San Diego Zoo Global Library

African Wild Ass (Equus africanus) & Domesticated Donkey (Equus asinus) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding

Diet & Feeding

  • Donkeys are ungulates with browsing and grazing habits.
  • Consume grasses, bark, leaves, even creosote bushes in desert areas. (Groves 1974)
  • Prefer grassy parts of the habitat over shrub or woodland parts
  • Can survive with little water and can tolerate even salty water. (Klingel 1990)
    • In wild, Equus africanus individuals sometimes go for 2-3 days without water. (Groves 1974)
    • Have more endurance and tolerate reduced food and water better than other horse species. (Klingel 1990)
    • Domestic donkeys can survive in Death Valley, CA
  • Young foals and nursing females need to be near water for daily drinks. (Moehlman 2002)
  • Donkeys and other asses have evolved to use sparse fibrous vegetation and have more efficient digestion than horses; their digestion is similar in efficiency to that of goats.(Choshniak et al 1989)

Grassy Habitat

a young wild ass in grass

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Choshniak et al (1989)
Groves (1974)
Klingel (1990)
Lamoot et al (2004)
Moehlman (2002)

SDZG Library Links