So you have a little plot of land and you’ve been considering purchasing an animal or two. You’ve heard about miniature donkeys, but don’t know enough about them to be certain they’re the right choice for you and your family.
Miniature donkeys have become quite popular thanks to their affectionate nature and charming personalities. If your family includes small children or disabled or elderly members, you can feel comfortable with these easygoing animals. They love to be caressed, stroked, and hugged, and will often respond to conversation with comical brays.
The average size of a miniature donkey is about 33 inches tall at the withers with a weight between 250 to 350 pounds. Although the most common coloring is gray-dun, they can also be white, black, sorrel, chocolate, or spotted. The smaller the stature and the more unusual the coloring, the more valuable the miniature donkeys are.
While the donkeys are unquestionably small, they are by no means house pets. They do require some pasture for grazing and exercise. A general rule of thumb is at least one acre for every pair of miniature donkeys. They need protection from the elements as well, and although they do well in cold climates, they do require at least a three-sided, dry, draft-free shelter to defend them against sun, rain, snow, wind, and flies.
Another characteristic that makes these animals so popular is the small amount of food they need. A green pasture, clean water source and quality hay is a sufficient diet, but they can also be given a mineral salt block and a small amount of low protein grain feed. Owners must be diligent not to overfeed these little creatures as they can easily become overweight. If fed too much they will develop an unsightly roll of fat, or “crest”, on their necks that once acquired will never disappear.
Miniature donkeys are herd animals. This means you should consider keeping at least two, although they do carry on well with horses, goats, or sheep. They become considerably attached to their herd mates and to “their people” as well. It is advisable to adopt two jennets (females) or geldings rather than two jacks (males), or one jack and one jennet.
These animals are natural sentinels, and will guard an entire flock of goats, sheep, even cattle. Because of their innate aversion toward predators, miniature donkeys and dogs do not good bedfellows make! The intelligent donkeys can, however, be trained to leave the family dog alone.
Given that they are so clever and possess such even-tempered qualities, miniature donkeys can be trained to perform a number of tasks. Mature donkeys can be used as pack animals or to carry small children, being that they are able to bear up to 100 pounds on their backs. They can be trained to “drive,” pulling a cart loaded with a weight of up to 20% of its own body weight. They can also learn commands such as walk, trot, whoa, back, and stand. They make delightful additions to parades, can learn to compete in miniature donkey shows, and liven up any petting zoo, Nativity scene, or nursing home visit!
The cost of purchasing a miniature donkey can vary greatly between regions as well as breeders. You can spend anywhere from $250 to $5000, depending on the size, coloration, and show quality. If you are seeking purely a pet, there is no need to spend a lot of money as nearly all miniature donkeys make wonderful companions.
These delightful animals do need adequate attention from their owners. They have an expected lifespan of twenty-five to thirty-five years. Therefore, adopting miniature donkeys cannot be taken lightly. Although it will mean an enduring commitment of time, resources, and attention, a miniature donkey brought into your family promises to be a trustworthy, faithful, lifelong friend.