If you have a few acres of land, country home, or live on a farm and are looking for a pet that is affectionate, loyal, charming, and exotic you may want to consider a miniature donkey. Yup, a miniature donkey. They have become more and more popular lately due to a few well-known celebrities owning them such as Martha Stewart. They are sweet-faced, shaggy, and have soft eyes that go along well with their friendly personality.
Mini donkeys originate from Africa and were once used as working animals. They pulled carts, carried packs, and did other farm work. They were first imported to the United States in the late 1920s. Mini donkeys became a pet among the elite in the 1950s in the United States and the first professional mini donkey breeders were The Langfelds who owned a farm in Omaha, Nebraska. The Langfelds established the original breed registry called The Miniature Donkey Registry of the United States in 1958 and then the registry was turned over to the American Donkey and Mule Society of Denton, Texas in 1987.
It is estimated that 12,000 to 16,000 mini donkeys are living in the United States today.
Mini donkeys are small, relatively inexpensive if you are looking for a pet and not a show quality one, and live over 25 years if well-bred and well-cared for. They weigh anywhere between 200 to 350 lbs. once they are fully mature and average 32 to 34 inches at the withers. Some mini donkeys may even be as tall as 36 inches.
The male donkeys are referred to as “jacks” and the females are “jennets.” The baby mini donkeys are called “foals.”
They are hardy and healthy animals with a well-balanced body. The head is proportional to the rest of the body and no part of the body should draw extra attention.
The most common colors for mini donkeys is a slate gray but some are tan, shades of brown, black, and sometimes white and spotted. Many of them have a cross at the withers that runs down the shoulders and back. They also usually have a white muzzle and white markings around their eyes.
Feeding a mini donkey is not hard, all you need to do is make sure they have a good quality hay, grains, a salt block, and fresh, clean water.
And of course, a mini donkey needs exercise like any other animal. It is important that you have land for grazing and exercising. Mini donkeys do not belong in cities, in condos, or in hi-rise buildings. They need space to walk around and shelter from the rain, snow, and other elements. Their housing should be dry and draft-free.
They adapt well to any climate and don’t requite too much maintenance but they do need their feet trimmed every 2 months or so and should be de-wormed on a regular basis along with yearly vet checks and vaccinations.
What to look for when adopting a mini donkey:
When looking for a mini donkey, look for one that is friendly and will come up to you with curiosity. If the donkey wants to be petted, it’s been socialized and has a good disposition. Ask the breeder how much training the mini donkey has received so far to assess what you’ll still have to teach her/him. Many donkeys are not fans of dogs so if you have a dog you’ll have to work on teaching tolerance and acceptance to your donkey.
Mini donkeys should be fairly quiet, easy to handle, and affectionate. They enjoy people around people and are pack animals. If you have room, you may want to consider adopting two. Mini donkeys will nudge you for attention and may nibble on your clothing. They may bray, snort, and snuffle at you when they see you. It’s how they greet you and communicate their emotions. Some mini donkeys are used in petting zoos and for therapy programs.
They are also easy to train and highly intelligent. You can train a mini donkey to help and pull a cart. They can also carry a pack making them a great companion for hiking and backpacking!
Mini donkeys are also just plain cute! They make great pets and companions for families. They are calm and rarely kick or bite. At the end of a hard day, petting and hugging a mini donkey may be just what you need.