The Language of Donkeys


Bella-ProfileI’m thinking that someone who might say animals don’t have language is likely not an ‘animal person’. Spending the time I do with our two cats and our four donkeys I know they do. And I know that language develops between those in the conversation. I’m fascinated by the signals our donkeys have developed totally on their own … that they use again and again … and that the others read ‘loud and clear’.

Bella has a ‘come with me’ move she uses quite often. It can mean ‘come follow me’ or ‘come run with me’ or ‘come play with me’ … she tosses her head up and throws her chin to the side. You or I have used that same motion at least once in our lives … signalling someone on with our chin. How interesting to see another animal (other than we humans) use that same move to mean the same thing! And she uses it with other donkeys … and people too. She also knows that you can ‘drag’ a human along with you if they are not getting the right idea quickly enough! 😉

Mar 505
Darby also has very clear signals. One of her favourites is ‘bite me’ … which I’ve mentioned before. She nips at her own hip to tell anyone off (donkeys or humans included). She uses it to start the others moving if she wants to herd them. She uses it to tell any of us she is frustrated or angry – maybe she feels she didn’t get enough carrots or counted that she got a few less apple treats than another. She actually DOES THAT. Counts to make sure SHE gets the same or more when you are sharing food.
Mar 503
Somebody tall with good teeth has been eating away at the Bully seat. Ede has repaired it a number of times. Most recently layering thick Gorilla tape all along the edging at the front and the sides. I rigged up a barrier to restrict access to the Bully Garage (or as Darby thinks of it ‘Darby’s Solo Stall’) to only that space beyond reach of the bench seat….
Mar 504
However … that certain someone ‘tall with good teeth’ was able to reach the back rest of the seat and chewed yet another hole at the top corner. Hmmm…. that led to my blocking the ‘garage stall’ totally off. Well, today Darby let me know loud and clear that she NEEDED that space – her space. While I was working she backed herself up slowly … ever so slowly … so that her legs first touched the ‘blocking rake shaft’ … and then further still so that her legs bent and her butt arched farther and farther over the bar. She very clearly locked eyes with me and pretty much gave me a choice … she could sit on the bar and break it … or maybe I’d help by moving it! Long story short – the ‘stall’ is open again – for now. However, there is a sled jammed into the passenger side of the Bully that will hopefully block off access to any more ‘seat munching’. I guess the morning will tell.
Mar 506
Can you see Bella’s blue eye in this shot above? It is very hard to show that she has blue eyes. Dark blue eyes against brown and black … Check out the video clip below showing Bella and Darby having a conversation … and then including me. I do love being a member of the herd. 😉

Oh … one more thing. Do YOU see what I saw today? Hurray!

2 comments on “The Language of Donkeys”

  1. Umm, I’m wondering if Darby isn’t requesting the Bully to be moved out of her stall? 🙂 Animals are amazing …. and enjoy your blue skies and spring buds. Laura

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