Difference Between Donkey and Burro

Donkeys and Burros are horse-like animals usually used for load-lifting purposes. They belong to the family Equidae, genus Equus. There can be various sub-types and breeds of donkeys. A Burro is a special kind of miniature donkey with extra hair. While most donkeys are domestic, burros are usually wild.


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Key Takeaways

  1. Donkeys are domesticated animals, members of the Equidae family; burros are a specific type of donkey originating from North Africa and used as working animals.
  2. Donkeys can vary in size, color, and breed characteristics; burros are generally smaller and have a distinct gray or brown coat with a dark dorsal stripe.
  3. Donkeys have been utilized for transport, agriculture, and companionship worldwide; Burros were introduced to the Americas by Spanish explorers and have become synonymous with the southwestern United States and Mexico.

Donkey vs Burro

The difference between donkeys and Burro is that donkeys are domestic packing animals found in almost all continents, while burros belong to a relatively minor wild breed of donkeys with more body hair than usual. They are commonly found in specific regions of the USA and Mexico.

Donkey vs Burro

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A more common term for Burros is Miniature Donkey. The word Burros means donkey in Spanish. The time became popular since these animals were mainly found in Spain, Portugal and Mexico. These were later brought to other regions.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonDonkeysBurros
SpeciesA donkey is a horse like-animal with the scientific name Equus casinosBurros are miniature donkeys; however, they belong to the same species.
DistributionDonkeys are found worldwide; however, the densest population can be found in third-world countries.Burros are primarily found in the United States and Mexico.
OriginThe commonly known domesticated donkeys were first documented in the 15th century.They originated around 4-5 million years ago, along with other horse-like animals.
PropertiesThey look similar to horses however are smaller and have a tail similar to a cow.Burros are smaller than regular donkeys and are often hairier.
Housing life spanThey are usually domesticated and can live up to 40-50 years.Burros usually are wild and live up to 25-30 years only.


What is Donkey?

Donkeys belong to the species Equus assinus. They are several breeds of donkeys scattered around the world. However, their population is relatively dense in warmer third-world countries.

Donkeys are very similar to a horse. They usually have relatively longer faces with much smaller bodies. A horse has about 5 vertebrae, while a donkey has only four. Donkeys have tails very similar to a cow.

They usually live in packs and are frequently domesticated. Humans use donkeys for carrying heavy loads etc. There is a common misbelief that donkeys are not intelligent.

Some breeders believe donkeys are more intelligent than horses and can be trained to do complex tasks. They can prove to be smart, compassionate and playful companions.

When donkeys are domesticated, they are often given supplements and fodder, which is why their life span can usually range between 40-50 years. Donkeys are essentially herbivorous animals. They eat plants, herbs, shrubs and fruits. 

Agricultural civilisations find donkeys useful since they are cheaper to feed and require minimal maintenance. They can be excellent for small-scale transportation. Donkeys can also be used for providing milk and meat.

Donkeys are believed to have originated in the early 15th century, somewhere during the time zebras and other horse-like animals became common.

For hundreds of years, they have been domesticated. They can be kept inside a barn in case of environmental stress or unsuitable conditions.


What is Burro?

Burros are donkeys that are relatively smaller in size. They belong to the same species as regular donkeys. The word Burro is Spanish for a donkey.

Burros are found in the United States and regions of Mexico. These donkeys originally belonged to Spanish and Mexican civilisations.

They were introduced in the United States during the infamous gold rush when Mexicans were migrating and exploring regions of the United States. Today burros are commonly found in Southern USA.

Burros are also called wild asses. Wild asses evolved around 4 million years ago. Wild asses, or burros, are shorter and have more body hair.

They typically feed on vegetation, grass and other wild plants. Burros are not domesticated like donkeys. Although in some countries, they are used as pack animals.

Since they do not live in controlled conditions, they often do not get nourishment like domesticated donkeys. They are also susceptible to damage due to harsh environmental conditions. Their lifespan is usually less than 25-30 years.

The breeding season for Burros is usually during the wet season. The term Burros is also generally used to refer to donkeys in some languages.

Burros’ special survival skills help them stay alive in arid regions without surface water. A recent study revealed that the wells dug by burros are used by other species that live in the area.

These wells also functioned as nurseries for vegetation, such as cottonseed saplings, ultimately serving as fodder for other herbivores.

Since Burros are considered invasive species, the benefits they induce in the ecosystem are often ignored.


Main Differences Between Donkey and Burro

  1. Donkeys are horse-like animals for carrying loads, while burro is a minor donkey variant.
  2. Donkeys are found worldwide; however, they are more common in third-world countries, while burros are found in USA and Mexico.
  3. Both donkeys and burros originated somewhere during the same time, like other horse-like animals. However, the domestic donkey was first documented in the 15th century.
  4. Structurally a donkey is more miniature than a horse, with only 5 vertebrae, and has a tail similar to a cow. Burros are smaller than donkeys and usually have more hair on their body.
  5. Donkeys have usually domesticated; hence their lifespan is up to 40-50 years, while Burros live in the wild and only up to 23-30 years.
Difference Between Donkey and Burro
  1. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1018&context=ewdcc4
  2. https://www.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/jappl.1970.29.2.159
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