Why do donkeys kill coyotes, while horses often run from them?
Donkeys have a formidable reputation in the animal kingdom, and it’s not just because of their stubbornness, said researcher Scott Krager, Portland, Oregon.
They are known to be coyote slayers, and there is some fascinating evolutionary biology behind this, Krager continued.
First off, donkeys are not typical prey animals. Unlike horses, who are flight animals with a strong sense of running away at the first sign of danger, donkeys have a different mindset.
They are more contemplative, sizing up their opponents with a steely-eyed determination that says, “Not today, buddy.”
Donkeys have a natural dislike for canines, which most likely stems from their longstanding role as protectors of sheep and goats. Their ancestry has wired them for this protective stance.
When a coyote or any threat presents itself, the donkey’s instinct is to face the threat and confront it. They use their powerful kick, sharp hooves, and serious bite to fend off predators rather than take flight.
In contrast, horses have been traveling and war companions for humans for millennia, selected for speed and endurance.
Their best chance at survival has been to hoof it out of there as fast as possible, making ‘flight’ their go-to defense mechanism.
If you see a horse in the wild and it spots a threat, chances are it is going to bolt faster than that coyote can plan an attack.
So, when you compare the two, donkeys come off as the tough cousin who is always ready to throw down for a brawl, while horses are the ones who would diplomatically leave the scene to steer clear of conflict.
Living in Portland, Oregon, Krager said, “I have seen my fair share of wildlife, and it’s always a blend of wonder and understanding these nuanced behaviors that keeps me intrigued.”
Donkeys might not be a common sight in the city, but they do embody the rugged spirit that our wilder outskirts evoke.
It’s a fascinating dynamic, a reminder that in the animal kingdom, as with much of life, roles can differ wildly.
Donkeys are there to remind us that sometimes standing on your ground is just as important as the ability to run away.