Can Donkeys and Alpacas Live Together? (Real Truth!)

Donkeys and alpacas are some of the cutest animals to keep on a farm, ranch, or homestead. But is it a good idea to keep both species together?

Here’s What You Need to Know About Keeping Donkeys and Alpacas Together:

Both donkeys and alpacas can live together if they’re introduced to each other at an early stage. If you bring them together as adults, however, things get more complicated. Although it’s not a guarantee, conflicts between the two species can easily arise.

We’ll get into just what some of these conflicts are later in this article.

Here’s what else we’ll cover:

  • If you can feed donkeys and alpacas together
  • If they can be trusted in the same shelter or housing
  • Mating, disease or other physical issues

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.

How should you introduce donkeys to alpacas (and vice versa)?

The act of introducing new animals to each other should be done slowly and with caution. With donkeys and alpacas, this is no different. You’ll need to supervise and train both animals until you’re sure they can get along well. 

Introducing either species to each other as early as you can (while they’re both young) is crucial when it comes to increasing their chances of living together peacefully. This is because each animal is young in its development and can “better” adjust to the other before sexual maturity and other complexities of learned/adaptive behavior arise.

The case for keeping donkeys with alpacas

The main reasons farm owners decide to keep the two species together generally comes down to two reasons:

  1. Personal choice
  2. Protection and security

Donkeys, when combined with other animals (such as alpacas), are believed to make good guard animals for other livestock, helping fend off coyotes, wild dogs, and foxes.

Related: Do Donkeys Keep Coyotes Away? (6 Things You Need To Know)

There is some debate over the effectiveness of donkeys as guard animals however and there’s simply not enough evidence (other than anecdotal) that suggests keeping them together with alpacas provides any kind of “enhanced protection”.

The best advice seems to be to keep both species separated where possible.

That way you’ll avoid issues such as the following…

Possible conflicts between donkeys and alpacas

Here are the most common problems that can arise keeping the two species together:


Donkeys (just like any other animal) can react poorly to other animals in their space when rescued out of abusive or neglectful situations. Violence, in the form of perceived self-defense, is a possibility.

The same can be said for alpacas. They are sometimes known to get fairly aggressive when it comes to feeding.

Larger pastures (or more space) can help solve this issue but you’ll still need to pay close attention to both species and ensure they have equal access to food and water.


Donkeys and alpacas are both grazers and require enough pasture so they can graze happily. Although each species have more nuanced dietary requirements, they’re both herbivores and therefore extremely unlikely to attack one another as a food source.

Related: Do Donkeys Eat Meat? (8 Surprising Facts)

While donkeys require low-quality forage, alpacas require high-quality forage. Hence, you need to separate them when giving grains and supplements. 

Donkeys require sweet feed and grains and their digestive systems are not suitable for lush green forage because of their high nutrient content.

Alpacas, on the other hand, cannot eat grains and treats like donkeys. Doing so puts them in danger of getting bloated and suffering digestive issues.

You’ll need to be aware of these differences if you decide on having both animals live together.


Some donkeys are more territorial than others. Because of this, they can sometimes show hostile or herd-protective behavior.

Alpacas are also known to commonly fight for dominance and space and can react negatively when kept in the same paddock with other animals.

Keeping them together in a small shelter is a bad idea. Separate them with fencing or separate stalls where possible.


Alpacas are susceptible to certain bacteria that equines (donkeys included) can often carry asymptomatically.

Because of this, it’s best to separate out the two animals and have them graze in separate places.

If you absolutely have to keep them together it’s perhaps better to let alpacas graze first on land before donkeys have access to it. That way, you can better ensure both species stay healthy.


It is possible for donkeys and alpacas to mate and to avoid this, they need to be kept away from each other. 

While the species cannot interbreed and have offspring, it’s still not suitable for sexually mature animals of different species to attempt to mate or they can be injured in the process.

If you do have to keep both species together, maybe consider castration in order to reduce that risk.

Final Thoughts: Can Donkeys and Alpacas Live Together?

Donkeys and alpacas can live together but it’s not advised. If you’re going to co-habitat them together as a hobby or for guarding purposes, it’s probably best to reconsider. Unless you can introduce either species to each other from a very young age, or pay very close attention to their behavior living together, you could be putting both species’ health and wellness at risk.