What is a Wild Burro
Wild Burro Overview
Wild Burros are a member of the horse family brought over to the American southwest before it was even the United States in the 1500s by Spaniards who used the animals to carry supplies, water, or anything they could strap to their back. A large part of why they were brought over, and more over the reason why they have thrived in the wild, is that the burro is a very hardy and resilient animal that can survive in harsh climates. Once their time as pack animals came to an end, the burros either escaped or were released into the wild where they have been forming herds ever since.
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Another reason why the burro has been so successful in the southwest is that they are able to extract moisture from the brush and grass found throughout the desert unlike their relative, the wild horse. They also eat a wide variety of plants which means they don’t need to drink as much water which is essential for desert survival.
While they may look like slow or not-so-smart animals, burros are actually quite intelligent and can be incredibly stubborn because of it. When approached by danger, burros will take longer to react because they assess whether or not they can stand their ground or not rather than flee on site.
When they decide to stand and fight, burros will implement a variety of kicks generated from their powerful back and front legs. Their stubbornness, intelligence, and raw kicking power make them amazing guard animals in a farm or range setting.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Perissodactyla
- Family: Equidae
- Genus: Equus
- Subgenus: Asinus
Size and Body Description
Just imagine a horse, only smaller.
A burro’s size can vary depending on the breed and living conditions but they will generally grow to be around 35 inches to 60 inches tall from hoof to their head. Burros will have large, pointed, straight ears that will either stick straight up or at a diagonal angle on top of their head.
Once again, depending on the breed or species, the color of the burro will change but most are dark brown, brown, tan, or gray in color. Their bellies are often times a lighter color like white, gray, or tan which can also be seen around their eyes and mouth.
While there may be a few different species of burro, you can tell which African lineage it came from based on its markings. Burros with a horizontal stripe across its back near its shoulder and a stripe running down its back comes from the Nubian Wild Ass. If you run across a burro with stripes on its legs, that burro has ancestors bred from the Somalian Wild Ass.
Wild Burros eat a variety of plants and grass found throughout the desert but usually prefer to stick to grass if they can.
Mating and breeding for burros happen year-round with an uptick from May to July. Female burros, also known as Jenny, give birth to one foal at a time and can even have twins, although this is rare. Gestation for the burro takes around 12 months which means females that are actively mating will have offspring every other year.
Wild Burros can be found roaming in herds in the states of California, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.
How Long do Wild Burro Live
Wild burros can live anywhere from 12 to 50 years depending on environmental conditions although the 50-year range is usually done in captivity when excellent care is given.
Wild Burros are federally protected which means it is illegal to harm or harass these animals. The BLM, or Bureau of Land Management, protects wild burros and wild horses on around 27 million acres of land stretching across 10 states.
One of our talented wildlife lovers, Nikki in Las Vegas, captured most of the photos of wild burros at Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area in Las Vegas.
Photo courtesy of Nikki Zahn Miller of Nevada Lovers Group
- Wikipedia – Donkey
- Bureau of Land Management