Miniature donkeys are a small, gentle breed of donkey that make great pets and don’t need acres of grass. They are regular donkeys except for being a different version size-wise – pet miniature donkeys great for small children as pets.
They are very friendly, loving, and playful animals that enjoy being around people – they make a unique pet.
They are intelligent, friendly, and easy to care for. Equus asinus is the Latin name for miniature donkey, which belongs to the equine family.
A miniature donkey is 36 inches or less. If it is any taller than 36 inches at the highest point of the withers, it is no longer classed as a miniature donkey.
They are hardy animals and classed as easy keepers.
History Of Miniature Donkeys
Donkeys have been around for centuries and have been used for many things such as beasts of burden, companions, and even show animals. There are many different breeds of donkeys.
The miniature Mediterranean donkey originates from the areas of Sardinia and Sicily in Italy. They were traditionally used by people to carry light loads such as firewood and luggage.
They are little donkeys that are becoming more and more popular because they make such good pets.
Miniature donkeys are just like regular standard donkeys, but they are much smaller in size. They are intelligent animals and come in a variety of colors and various shades and can be used for anything from pulling carts to being companion animals or just pet donkeys.
The Mediterranean islands of Sardinia and Sicily are the original home of miniature Mediterranean donkeys – sometimes called Sicilian donkeys. These little guys live in wild arid areas and can survive on little food and water for long periods of time.
Miniature donkeys were first introduced to North America and specifically the United States in the 1920s. In 1958, the Miniature Donkey Registry was set up in Nebraska. Nowadays, most miniature donkeys are exported from the United States, not from where they originally came from, even though some original populations do exist in Italy.
The smallest miniature donkey alive in the world is in the United States and measures just 25.29 inches tall.
In America, about 15,000 Miniature Donkey are active and importation is no longer permitted. Some people find Miniature Donkeys to be a good investment because of increasing demand and good prices. The governing body for miniature donkey registration and breeding is the national miniature donkey association.
Uses For Miniature Donkeys
Of course, their first use is for you to love them, enjoy them, and just have a ton of fun with them. And with all the wonderful mental health benefits that come to a person who does that, that use of them shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The truth is, the Miniature donkey has many uses. One of the downsides of owning and loving an equine is the size of them. Well, that just isn’t an issue when it comes to miniature donkeys. Their gentle nature means they are generally safe to have around children and any other human with physical and mobility challenges. If you love horses and donkeys but are intimidated by larger animals, then miniature donkeys will be the perfect solution for you. This is especially true for people who may not have the space, or means to take care of a bigger equine animal.
Therapeutic Uses Of Miniature Donkeys
Miniature and micro-mini donkeys can also be very therapeutic for both physically handicapped people and for people in nursing homes, as well as for all of us. Their sweet, loving, gentle dispositions are a joy to be around. If you’re having a bad day, all you have to do is walk out to a pasture or pen with miniature donkeys, and you’ll be surrounded by smiling faces that want some love and attention.
Traditional Uses For Miniature Donkeys
In terms of more traditional uses for humans, the wild miniature donkey can transport an adult over long distances and is known to be very sturdy. They are after all a donkey which is famous for their load-carrying ability. They make great pack animals and can carry about 100 pounds of cargo.
Donkeys are utilized as guard animals against wild dogs and coyotes. A donkey’s natural dislike for dogs makes the animal suitable to serve as a guard animal for sheep, calves, and other livestock. Miniature donkeys should NOT be used as guard animals, however, due to their small size. They simply do not have the body mass that would allow them to defend themselves or others from predators such as coyotes or wild dogs that hunt in packs. As a general rule, the bigger the size and weight of the donkey, the more intimidating it is to predators. So leave the mini donkey to less dangerous uses.
Gender Names For Donkeys
Female miniature donkeys are called Jennets. Regular-sized female donkeys are called Jennys. The offspring of a male donkey and a female horse is called the mule, and the hybrid of the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey is called the hinny. Miniature donkeys are often used as pets. Donkeys can pull wagons and carts and can often be seen taking part in festivals or parades.
Personality Of Miniature Donkeys
People who own miniature donkeys say they’re the best pets: super cute, adorable, lovable, and trustworthy around children and the handicapped and elderly. Grown donkeys can be easily trained to pull carriages and be ridden even by a small child. A miniature donkey will not be aggressive or hostile to other donkeys or their human masters.
Miniature donkeys are dedicated mothers and protective of other foals in the herd.
Caring For Miniature Donkeys
The miniature donkey, like its other equine relatives, needs specific care: feeding, shearing, hoof cleaning, vaccinations, deworming, etc.
Even so, if these precious little burritos are kept in a place with enough space for them to run and exercise, they do not need more minimal care than a couple of weekly visits to check that food and water are in order. With that basic care put in place, when we are with them we will enjoy their company knowing we have done all we can to take care of them.
The minimum space needed to have a miniature donkey must be enough for it to have a good quality of life. If we have it in a field or garden, it must have a shed to give them shelter and have the food protected from any inclement weather. If he is housed in a stable, he should be taken out frequently to run around and exercise.
Check out our article with more detailed information about the proper care of miniature donkeys and potential health problems that require proper veterinarian care here.
Frequently Asked Questions About Miniature Donkeys
How Long Do Miniature Donkeys Live?
The average life span for a miniature donkey is around 25 to 30 years of age. This is a similar life expectancy to standard-sized donkeys, although wild donkeys have shorter life spans than domestic donkeys.
How Do Miniature Donkeys Sleep?
The common misconception is that donkeys sleep lying down. This is only partly true. Donkey owners will tell you that donkeys will generally spend most of their time engaged in light sleep while standing because they are on the listen-out for prey animals even while sleeping. Even though they are farm animals, they have that evolutionary history of being herd animals vulnerable to being preyed upon, so are similar to wild horses in having quite a confusing array of sleep patterns. Studies have shown that there are even differences between male and female sleep patterns with males having shorter more frequent naps and females having longer naps.
They will have a body position of a hind leg cocked at a resting angle. You may notice their long ears flicking back and forward, listening for anything suspicious. They mostly sleep in a standing position, but this does not allow them to have any rapid eye movement sleep which is a kind of sleep they need to lay down for – the deep sleep they need at least some of in any 24hr period (0.5 hours of rem sleep in a 24-hour period). It is impossible for them to have REM sleep while standing due to that way it takes away muscle control. It may appear that they don’t get much sleep, but they do usually get enough if they are not in stressed surroundings and have good herd dynamics with at least a single donkey ready to alert the others of danger with a loud hee haw should something trigger a flight response. If miniature donkeys don’t get enough rest, they can suffer from sleep deprivation and therefore become more prone to injury and stress if they don’t get enough of the right type of sleep or enough hours of sleep.