This is the smallest member of the horse family and is critically endangered. The African ass is a grey-coated relative of our domestic donkey living in the rocky deserts of Africa.
25-30 years (up to 50 in captivity).
200cm long with a 42cm tail.
The smallest member of the horse family, with a greyish coat, white belly and a dark stripe along its back. The Nubian subspecies has a dark 'cross' on its shoulders, and the Somali subspecies has dark bands on its legs. The tail has a dark tassle, and the mane is dark and upright. It has narrow hooves.
Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia
Grass and other vegetation.
Wild asses are mostly solitary. Males defend large territories and mate with females which wander through. They do form loose herds too - often groups of territory-less males or females. This is because the food in their dry habitats is so widely spaced out that there isn't enough to go round a whole herd in one place. They communicate through scent and visual signals as well as calls.
A single foal is born after a gestation period of 12 months at any time of the year. The foals are well developed, and can walk within half an hour of birth. They are weaned at about 5 months, and reach sexual maturity between 1 and 2 years of age.
Smallest member of the horse family.
Modern horses are all closely related. They all have only one functional toe (with the nail formed into a hoof) on each foot. Their ancestors back in the Eocene, though, like Propalaeotherium, had three on the front feet and four on the back. They also had pads like a cat or dog. They were small animals, living in the vast expanses of Eocene forest. As plains opened up, fast-running animals evolved. Some horses adapted to this lifestyle and grew long, running legs.