Overcoming Obstacles

Omaruru Donkey picture of a donkey with similar coloration of its surroundings Donkeys have developed many adaptations in order to maximize their food intake and survival in their habitat.

Acquiring food can be a difficult task for many animals. Many donkeys live in deserts that have sparse vegetation. Limited amounts of food in return would decrease the survival of the species as a whole. Donkeys, however, have adapted successfully to obtaining and using their food. They have developed advanced digestive tracts that allow them to eat more coarse plants such as bushes, scrubs, vegetation, and bark.

Through evolution, equids have also developed specialized teeth for grinding. The grasses that these animals eat are rough and difficult to digest because they contain phytoliths, or silica in the cells walls designed to protect against grazers. With their crowned teeth, donkeys have overcome this set back.

Highveld Horse Care Unit picture of a narrow donkey limb and hoofCompared to horses, all donkeys possess specialized teeth and long limbs. The adaptation of long limbs and narrow hooves allow these animals to move swiftly and easily through rocks. This adaptation is vital considering that the majority of donkeys live in mountainous regions and other rocky highlands. The picture to the left shows the narrow hoof of a donkey along with  a harmful symbiotic relationship between a donkey and humans.

Other adaptations that allow donkeys to be so successful in their surroundings are their color and body type. The coat of donkeys allows them to reflect heat from their dry desert environment. The light tan to grey color also aids in camouflaging  them to blend in with their surroundings. Donkeys have relatively large ears that also shed heat and are excellent for hearing. The picture in the upper right corner is from Omaruru Donkey and  shows how this particular donkey blends in with the grassy sand surroundings.

Knowing that these animals blend in with their surroundings, where is their habitat?

Interesting Fact: Although the donkey's coat helps reflect heat and blend in with its surroundings, it is not waterproof and they need to take shelter during the rain. This information is compliments of the Solar Navigator.


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