What do donkeys do at 5:00 AM? Well, they hang around waiting to be fed and bide their time by grooming one another. Here, Zeus (right, foreground) and Herschel (right background) engage in mutual grooming while Kharma (rump towards camera) and Jules (Left background facing camera) look on.
Donkeys just love grooming and it is a major ritual in their daily lives. It may look rough, but it is very gentle. They usually stand opposite one another and run their teeth along each other’s necks. If they find a clump of dirt, they will usually pull it out with their teeth and then nibble a bit to cleanse the area where the dirt was.
Once they are done grooming each other they will often affectionately drape their necks across one another’s backs and rest on one another for a few minutes. As with taking dirt baths, it is common for the non-grooming donkeys to stand guard close by.
Grooming is a herd behavior that is well engrained into the daily routine of donkeys. It is part of their delicate social structure. This is important to understand if you intend to make friends with donkeys because you can simulate grooming by kneading their necks and rubbing their ears in an offering of friendship. Not all donkeys will let you do this, but once they accept you, they will come up and demand it by either rubbing against you or backing in to you waiting for their backs and rumps to be scratched.