How long have donkeys been in England?

Donkeys hate the British weather and would rather be inside, study finds

The research looks sensible in its results. But how long have we had donkeys in England? So, don’t we know this? Did anyone, for example, go talk to a few donkey handlers?

Sorry, not putting this well. I’d rather assume that this is local knowledge of that Hayekian type, among those who keep donkeys and horses. What I’m wondering is whether the scientists bothered to go and ask them?

Researchers studied 208 healthy, semi-free ranging donkeys and horses in Somerset and Devon, over 16 months where temperatures ranged between 33f (1C) and 91F (33C).

The temperature, wind speed, rainfall, light and density of and degree of harassment by flying insects at each site were measured and the behaviour of the donkeys and horses recorded as the weather changed.

Overall, unless it was hot and dry, donkeys spent a great deal less time outdoors than horses, preferring the sanctuary of a shelter. When it rained, donkeys were three times more likely than horses to stay indoors, and they tended to seek shelter when the temperatures dropped below 57F (14C), which is higher than the average annual temperature in Britain 46F – 51F (8C to 11C).

Or was that temptation to do Science! such that they didn’t bother to ask first?

14 thoughts on “How long have donkeys been in England?”

  1. “Or was that temptation to do Science! such that they didn’t bother to ask first?”

    I think you mean the temptation ‘to get grant money for *something*, *anything*!’

  2. Baron Jackfield

    Just confirms what anyone who knows about things equine thinks – that donkeys are more intelligent than horses.

  3. If you can believe Wikipedia: “Greeks spread [donkeys and viticulture] to many of their colonies, including those in what are now Italy, France and Spain; Romans dispersed them throughout their empire.”

    So about 2000 years, give or take a decade.

  4. Google consensus seems to be that Donkeys originated in Africa and came here with the Romans.

  5. Worth remembering: when the Romans brought donkies to Britain from North Africa, the weather was a couple of degrees warmer, you know as in Roman Warm Period when the benign climate allowed agriculture to support a growing population. The subsequent cool off drove the barbarians south to initiate the Dark Ages in Western Europe.

  6. This is a bit of a blow for Prince Andrew. China decreased the Donkey skin import tax a year or so ago, and he was hoping to lead the Brexit export drive.

  7. WhenIwasbutalad one of our local fishermen used a couple of donkeys, with panniers, to carry his catch from his stake nets. I often saw them standing outside in summer in their paddock but don’t remember seeing them standing around in the rain. Presumably they retreated to their kennel, or stable, or whatever their shed was called.

    Those of us urchins who helped him at his nets were allowed to pat the creatures but not to attempt to ride them. Similarly we were not allowed to touch the salmon or trout but were encouraged to paddle in bare feet to locate flat fish. If it was a fluke you were allowed to keep it; anything sellable you had to hand over.

    Happy days. God it must have been awful growing up in a city.

  8. Donkeys, in one sense, are very recent in Britain. The word is a slang term, apparently not recorded before 1785. Before that the word in use was Ass.

    “And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.”

  9. Perhaps they’re more used to being down coal mines where it doesn’t rain or get cold?

  10. Pit ponies were more in use for mining, my father used to help look after them after school as one of his uncles was a blacksmith at the mine

  11. Donkeys are simply a hell of a lot smarter than horses.
    They take extremes better.. Hills and mountains, even in warmer climes, get rather chilly… So it’s not as if they can’t handle bad weather..

    But given shelter being present, and the weather being British, a horse would stay out claiming, like a sadistic PE teacher, it “Builds Character”. Whereas a donkey, like us, would think “Sod! This!” and get inside where it’s warm…

  12. Another worthless, stating the obvious “academic study”

    Land based Mammals do not like rain, unless they are too hot.

    Birds look miserable in rain/snow too. We used to have to shoo-shoo Peacocks out of porch (and hall if doors open) when it was cold, wet or snowy.

  13. They have gone wild here and are considered a pest. The BLM rounds them up and adopts them out. They seem to thrive in temperatures from -20C to 45C.

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