What can burros be used for?
Burros can be used in the same fashion as a horse. You can ride them, pack them, hitch them to a cart or wagon or show them. They can be utilized as a guard animal to protect sheep, goats and even cows from predators such as coyotes or wild dogs. Burros also make wonderful pets.
How do burros behave in the wild?
Wild burros are not like wild horses, in that they do not run in family groups composed of a dominant stallion with several mares or harems. Instead, burros tend to form loose knit social groups. Wild burros are social in nature, and they stay together more from desire to rather than need. Large groups of burros may stay together for an afternoon or several days, but eventually they break up and go their separate ways. The strongest bond is between a jenny and her foal. They may stay together for as long as two years.
Wild burros are herbivores, or grazing animals, and in nature are a prey species. To survive, they depend on their keen sense of smell, sight and sound. They are most vulnerable when their sight is restricted as they dip their heads to eat or drink. They continually work their ears to pick up sounds that may warn them of potential threat or danger. The direction that they point their ears indicates the area that they are looking or thinking about.
Should I adopt an older animal or a younger animal?
People tend to adopt young burros, because they believe that young animals gentle down quicker. This may be true to some extent, but remember, burros are social in nature and independent in thought. The key to training your burro is to gain its trust, young or old.
As wild animals, they are very fearful of humans at first. Also, being a socially independent animal, burros tend to do things because they want to, not to please others. The common belief that burros are stubborn is incorrect. Rather, they are actually just cautious. If they are unsure of a situation, burros will not willingly proceed. It is very difficult to force a burro into a situation that it does not understand, so pushing or pulling the animal usually becomes a contest of wills.
Once you have gained the trust of a burro, the animal becomes more willing to do things that are unfamiliar. In addition, understanding this trait makes age less of a factor in gentling a wild burro.
Should I adopt a male or female?
If you adopt a male burro (jack) and do not intend to use him as a breeding animal, it is best to geld him. Once an animal has been gelded, his life centers around eating and companionship. A gelding will usually gentle down quicker than a stud. A female (jenny,) by nature, is more standoffish than a jack or gelding. In the wild, she is usually pregnant, has a foal by her side, or both. Because of her desire to successfully rear her young, she is more protective and less willing to trust people. Though a little more time and patience may be required, jennies can learn to trust people. Once gentled, they may be even more calm than a gelding.
Are all burros the same?
Absolutely not. When adopting a wild burro, keep in mind that they have personalities just like people. Each is an individual. Some are friendly, some are cranky, some are more independent than others and some are smarter. When thinking about adopting a burro, spend some time looking at the animals to see if you can find one whose personality strikes you as someone you’d like to meet. Look for the burro that you like as an individual, and that will make it much easier for the burro to like you.
How do I select a burro that is best for me?
Size, color, conformation, hair texture, markings or scars are not important when looking for a pet. If the animal is being selected to be used as a work or show animal, these considerations become more important. For pets, match yourself with a burro whose personality suits you best.
When selecting a burro as a work animal, check the legs to make sure they are sturdy and straight. Long legs on a young animal indicate potential for growth. The size of a burro varies and may depend on the area where the burro was gathered. For example, extreme environments normally produce smaller, more efficient animals.
Are wild burros sociable?
Yes. When you go to an adoption event to adopt your burro, watch their behavior. When undisturbed, you will notice them standing in the pen lazily grooming each other. Like other animals, they like and respond to physical contact. When you are able to touch your burros, scratch them where they groom each other (neck, back, shoulders and rump). The areas where they mutually groom each other are familiar and comforting to them. Once they accept your touch in familiar spots and a level of trust has been achieved, you can begin touching them in other areas, such as the face and legs.
What can I do to help my burro adjust to its new home?
When you adopt a burro, remember it has been in captivity for at least 30 days. It has the feeding and watering routine down at the corral. However, when introduced into another environment, it has to learn where to find the food and water all over again. Burros do not know how to drink from an automatic drinker, so supply water in a trough. The first time you fill the trough, let the water run over the side so the burro can see it. Remember, a burro is most vulnerable when their head is down, so knowing where the water is without lowering its head makes is less traumatic to find a new water source.
Feed them in the same place every time, so they get comfortable with the feed routine. Initially it is best to stay and watch them eat. Speak to them in a low, calm voice so they can become more familiar with you. Even though their head is down to drink, they will know exactly where to find you. Watch their ears move to follow sounds. After several successful feeding sessions, they will begin to trust your presence during a time of high vulnerability.
Are these animals really wild?
Yes, they are wild animals and by nature do not trust human beings. Do not put yourself in harms’ way or allow your animal to get into a position that could cause injury to you or the animal. Take your time and think “safe” for both of you. The burro is in a foreign environment. Being wild, when pressured, the first thing they will try to do is to escape. When they realize they are confined and cannot flee, they will ware off perceived danger with physical action, such as biting and kicking. Building their trust in you will eliminate the fear that may trigger a harmful physical response directed at you. To gain trust, you must help make your burros feel safe.