Have you ever seen a donkey rolling in dry dirt? It looks like they are taking a bath in the dust. But why do donkeys roll in dust? Besides rolling for fun, donkeys have some excellent reasons for rolling in dust. And their reasons change throughout the seasons and even with temperature fluctuations throughout the day.

Depending on the weather, donkeys roll in dust or dirt to fluff out their winter coat, help with shedding, and get relief from bothersome flies and itching skin.

A donkey’s preparation for rolling in the dust

Donkeys often do some prep work before they commence with their rolling activities. You might notice the donkey walking around looking for that perfect spot to start rolling. Sometimes, the ground might not be up to the donkey’s high standards.

In that case, you will notice the donkey begin to paw at a spot on the ground. The donkey will keep lifting his foot and kicking at the dirt. The donkey is loosening the soil up to get just a little bit dustier or muddier when rolling in the dirt.

Why do donkeys roll in the dust?

Of course, the most fun reason that donkeys roll around in the dirt and mud? Because they want to play and have fun. Rolling is a social activity, and they often take turns rolling in the same spots.

Rolling is a learned behavior in donkeys and not necessarily an inherent trait, which means that when one donkey begins rolling around in the dirt and mud, others will catch on and learn the behavior too. Even though donkeys roll in the dust for fun, they also have other reasons for doing so.

A donkey rolling in dirt
A donkey rolling in dirt

Early spring rolling

One of the reasons donkeys roll on the ground in the dirt is to help loosen up and fluff out their winter coat. Over the long winter, the donkey’s coat might be laying a little bit tighter on the skin just from any cold and dampness that may have been affecting the coat. By rolling and fluffing out its fur, the donkey is better insulated against those spring nights when it can still get chilly.

Late spring rolling

As the weather consistently gets warmer, the donkey will shed its winter coat. Rolling around on the ground helps the donkey get the dead shedding coat to the surface and fall off. Doing so makes way for a lighter, more summer-friendly coat.

Summer rolling

Donkeys love to roll in the summertime to help keep flies at bay. Rolling in the dirt and mud helps cover the donkey from head to toe and adds a layer of protection from the bites of flies. If the flies have begun irritating the donkey’s skin, donkeys will roll in the mud to help relieve and soothe the itch they might get from the flies.


There are multiple reasons why donkeys roll in the dust, and it is not just to have fun! Depending on the season, your donkey might be rolling in the dust to help fluff out its coat for insulation in the early spring. Or maybe to help with shedding in the late spring and early summer, or even to protect itself from bothersome flies and soothe any itch caused by them in the summer.


  • Julianna R

    Julianna is an ardent animal lover who has multiple experiences dealing with farm animals. She has worked as a pet care specialist and loves animals that come in all shapes and sizes. She is a writing enthusiast too and loves to tell her stories to the world through her words.

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