Miniature Donkeys as Pets (Costs, Size, Lifespan and Facts)


Miniature Donkeys as Pets

You have probably observed how sweet-natured domesticated donkeys can be around children and adults alike at petting zoos, save for the rare occasion they kick when feeling threatened. Perhaps this has you wondering whether these stubborn but friendly mules might make good companions on your farm or homestead – specifically adorable mini donkeys.

Mini donkeys make loyal and affectionate animals when trained and well-socialized around humans. At almost half the size of a standard donkey, miniatures are also much easier to care for in terms of food and grooming. As they can live for several decades, caring for a miniature donkey is as much of a commitment as caring for a horse.

While their smaller stature makes aspects of their care simpler, mini donkeys are pack animals and thrive better with a fellow mini mule around. If you have the budget and time to raise a couple of these intelligent, hard-working animals, you’ll soon see the benefits of welcoming them into your family. Let’s look at some of the need-to-know questions about raising miniature donkeys.

How Much are Mini Donkeys?

Mini donkeys can cost between $500-$2,000 depending on age and gender. A female ready for breeding will have greater value than a retired male, for example. Mini donkeys must also be officially registered to be recognized as ‘miniature’ donkeys, so those with cheaper price tags may not be official miniatures.

Since there are so many miniature donkeys in need of a good home, you could consider re-homing one or two through a donkey adoption organization. Temporarily sponsoring a donkey while you decide can be a great way to gain insight into their care needs whilst supporting a local sanctuary.

Are Donkeys Expensive to Keep?

Once you factor in their food, accessories, vet bills, bedding and shelter etc., the costs of keeping a miniature donkey can range between $3,000 and $7,000 depending on your location and the age and health of each donkey. This breakdown of costs gives you an idea of the typical donkey expenses.

How Big is a Miniature Donkey?

Mini donkeys normally measure about 32-34 inches from their hooves to their withers (the ridge between their shoulder blades). To be recognized as an official ‘miniature’, mini donkeys can’t be taller than 36 inches. The world’s smallest mini donkey named ‘KneeHi’ measured just over 25 inches in 2011 at his Florida farm.

In contrast, standard-sized donkeys measure around 38-48 inches tall and can weigh between 400-500 lbs – more than double the weight of mini donkeys which weigh as little as 200-400 lbs.

How Long Will a Miniature Donkey Live?

With proper care, domesticated mini donkeys can live to be around 35-40 years old. Wild mini donkeys live around 25 years by comparison.

Do Miniature Donkeys and Dogs Get Along?

If dogs are well-trained to never nip, chase or provoke donkeys, they can learn to tolerate each other, but it will take dedicated training and socialization for mini donkeys to recognize dogs as non-threatening. All donkeys instinctually see dogs as predators like wolves and coyotes, so they will get protective and defensive around them.

How Much Land Do Mini Donkeys Need?

One acre of land (approx 43,560 square feet) will be sufficient space for a pair of miniatures to comfortably play and exercise in. Subdividing each mini into their own padlocks is also advised to prevent overgrazing.

They will also need a field shelter or stable to avoid biting flies in summer and stay dry in damp conditions. Mini donkeys are hardy animals, but persistent wet conditions can lead to them developing weak, infected hoofs.

Are Miniature Donkeys Noisy?

Mini donkeys are not especially loud but can be known to bray or “hee-haw” in communication with another or when they want something. Braying ranges from quiet whimpering to ear-shattering – thankfully keeping a supply of tasty oat or barley straw nearby may help keep noisy donkeys quiet!

Are Miniature Donkeys Easy to Care for?

Generally, mini donkeys are easier to care for compared to horses in terms of feeding requirements and shelter. And while they are stubborn, they don’t startle as easily as their larger equine friends and are highly intelligent, making them easy to train. Their natural desire for companionship makes them a joy to have on a family farm – the only real challenges lie in their compatibility issues with dogs and other small animals.

Are Miniature Donkeys Good Guard Animals?

Yes, since they were traditionally bred to protect livestock, they can be trained to protect the pack from possible intruders, though mini donkeys will not have the vicious strength of a full-sized donkey’s hind kick.

Are Miniature Donkeys Aggressive?

Miniatures rarely bite or kick, only doing so if they feel threatened or afraid, and this is less likely in a domesticated environment when they have become socialized among humans and well-trained pets. Caution should always be taken when they are around small children though due to their strength.

Can a Child Ride a Miniature Donkey?

Since mini donkeys have a weight limit of around 50-100 lbs it is not recommended that a child older than 4 years rides on their back. However, donkeys were bred to pull carts, so a young child could reasonably hitch a lift on a sled pulled by a well-trained mini donkey.

What Age Can a Miniature Donkey Breed?

Female donkeys or ‘jennets’ are fertile once they reach 12 months old, but they should not be encouraged to breed until they reach at least 3 years old. This is so that miniatures are fully developed to prevent injuries during breeding and avoid potential birth defects.

Once sexually mature, jennets will come into heat every 18-24 days, and you can often tell because they begin making a chewing motion with their mouth even when they aren’t eating. Other tell-tale signs of being in heat include salivating, urinating, and raising their tail.

What to Feed a Miniature Donkey?

You should ensure they have access to fresh, clean water, a salt lick, and some good-quality hay (Meadow and Seed hay are high-fiber options). Donkeys naturally enjoy foraging on pasture grass, and you can occasionally feed them healthy treats such as apples, carrots, and potatoes in bite-sized wedges and chunks.

How Much Hay Does a Miniature Donkey Eat?

You should feed your minis roughly 3-5 lbs of hay daily. For reference, a small 50 lb square bale will fall into sections when you cut the string, and each section or wedge that falls off should be a sufficient amount for one donkey per day.

When Do You Wean a Miniature Donkey?

Baby mini donkeys or ‘foals’ should be weaned at around 4-6 months old. Once foals begin to taste their mother’s milk at around 4 weeks, this is a good time to introduce some feed of its own to help it wean completely (a container of hay with added grain and pasture grass).

How Much Weight Can a Miniature Donkey Carry?

A healthy miniature should be able to carry a load of up to 100 lbs (roughly two average-sized hikers backpacks). They can also pull up to twice their body weight (around 400 lbs), though testing their limits should not be encouraged considering their small height.

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