Donkey Lifespan: How Long Do Donkeys Live?

Keep reading to watch this amazing video

Donkeys have been around since prehistoric times, making them one of the oldest animals we keep. They belong to the same equine family as zebras, and their fossils date back millions of years. Being such strong animals, they have been the most popular form of transportation in many places and situations around the world.

But, have you ever wondered about learning more about these incredibly charming and loyal creatures? We've looked at donkey profiles, including donkey life expectancy information. So let's explore this household animal and finally answer the question of donkey longevity!

Donkey Crash Course

donkey in the mountains
Donkeys are very smart.

© Jacobi

Donkeys are domestic donkeys that are related to horses and evolved from the African wild ass.

Donkeys have been around for a long time. The Egyptians had donkeys to thank for their wealth, as they used them to transport precious metals from Africa. Donkeys were also used to transport silk from the Pacific to the Mediterranean via the "Silk Road". Donkeys have been used as labor animals for many years, and many families still rely on donkeys today to carry water and food.

In ancient times, donkeys were only found in Central Asia or North Africa. Today, however, donkeys can be found all over the world. There are now more than 40 million donkeys in the world. The countries with the most donkeys are China, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Egypt and Mexico. Donkeys have proven themselves to be very loyal, social, intelligent, and extremely useful to humans, which is why they can be found all over the globe.

Now that we better understand the origin of the donkey, let's explore the average lifespan of a donkey.

Read more 

Average Lifespan of a Donkey

Animals that sweat - donkeys
Donkeys live an average of 27 to 40 years in the wild.


Donkeys live an average of 27 to 40 years in the wild. However, under good conditions they can live up to 50 years. In the wild, their lifespan is often shortened by parasitic infections or anatomical problems.

Some notable lifespan facts about different species in different parts of the world:

  • In Ethiopia, donkeys live for nine years, but with proper care and nutrition, they can live up to 25 years, according to the Canadian Journal of Applied Science.
  • In Mexico, the average lifespan of a donkey is about 15 years.
  • Female donkeys, also known as Jennies, are not kept by donkey owners around the world because they "create problems and don't function properly". Therefore, the ratio of male to female in these places is about 4:1, resulting in a decrease in the production of donkeys.

As you can see, under the right conditions, donkeys are able to live quite a long time. However, lack of food, inadequate or non-existent veterinary care, and heavy labor loads can all lead to shortened donkey lifespans.

With a little more background on donkey lifespans, let's explore their life cycle and how they develop from babies to adults.

Average Lifespan of a Donkey

The life cycle of a donkey is similar to that of other mammals. Mothers conceive and raise babies until they are ready to be born into this world. Let's explore this lifecycle in more detail!


Jackasses, also known as jacks, reach sexual maturity between 8 months and 1 year. Jennets can go into heat for the first time between 8 months and 2 years of age.

Read more  What do clams eat? 5 Foods They Eat

Once pregnant, a donkey's gestation period is usually around 12 months, but can range from 10 to 14 months. Donkeys give birth to only one foal per birth. Twins occur only in rare cases.

newborn foal

Unlike other mammals, equine babies are well developed at birth. This means the foal will start to stand within the first hour. They'll even start walking and running on day one. Although they will rely on their mother's milk for nutrition, foals have teeth and will start eating plants when they are a few days old.

weaning stage

donkey eating grass
A donkey is called a foal.


After about 4 or 6 months, the mother will begin weaning her foal. At this point, the donkey will continue to grow and will rely on plants and other food sources to supplement its mother's milk. This is the final stage before a donkey is officially considered an adult.


Donkeys start to look like adults at the age of two. But they don't fully develop or mature until they are 3 to 5 years old. When a donkey becomes an adult, its bones are fully grown. Finally, when they grow their second set of teeth, the donkey is officially an adult.

How to Extend the Life of Your Pet Donkey

Donkeys are actually great pets if you happen to have enough land to accommodate them! Donkeys are usually friendly and loving. They are especially social and get along well with other donkeys and horses. However, they are very intelligent and hate being yelled at or made to do anything they don't want to do. So if you are interested in raising a pet donkey, pay attention to these tips!

Read more  Gophers

Some things that prolong the life of your donkey are:

make sure they have companions

In general, donkeys are not suited to live alone. A donkey without friends will become more and more unhappy. They will start to exhibit depressed behaviors because they can easily become lonely. When they have companions, they are very loyal. The bond they have is forever, especially when they bond together. Donkeys and horses can form a friendship, so if you have horses too, let them socialize together!

healthy eating

Donkeys are classified as herbivores, which means their diet needs to be high in plant fiber. To prevent them from gaining too much weight, a high-fiber, low-sugar diet is recommended. Donkeys should avoid the grain as it is poisonous to them.

Grazing Space and Adequate Housing

In order for donkeys to stay healthy, they need a clean, dry barn or at least a three-sided shelter. Donkeys love to graze and roam around while eating. Therefore, grazing is very important to them.


  • Saw an alligator biting an electric eel with 860 volts
  • The 15 Deepest Lakes in America
  • Watch rare coyotes and bobcats now

More from AZ Animals

featured image

12 Christmas Animals From Around The World - Donkeys
Donkeys are associated with Christmas because of its connection to the Christian faith.

© Angyalosi Beata/

about the author


Volia Nikaci is a freelance writer and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding and marketing. She has a background in broadcast journalism and political science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When not writing, she enjoys traveling, visiting used bookstores, and hanging out with her significant other.

Thanks for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the editorial team.