Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys Make Great Companions

Though they aren't livestock guardian animals, Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys offer a lot to keepers, from companionship to therapy and more.

by Hobby Farms HQ
PHOTO: Courtesy Kim Winton/AssN9 Ranch

Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys make wonderful pets and companions. Rumor is that they are stubborn. But, in reality, they have much more self-preservation than a horse—and without the flight instinct.

When you ask them to do something new, they will need to sniff it, touch it, maybe put a foot on it before they comply. They are extremely intelligent and eager to please, once you have established a bond and earned their trust.

Miniature donkeys, however, are not livestock guardians. 

The History of Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys

Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys originated on the Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily. There, they were used as beasts of burden, to pull carts and to turn mills. First imported to the U.S. in 1929, the current registered population is approximately 77,000. 

They have a “cross” and a dark dorsal stripe on their backs and a shoulder stripe that comes down over their shoulders. They tend to be very healthy and sturdy and don’t experience many of the birthing or dental problems that other miniature breeds do.

Read more: Meet Angela Silvera, a trainer known as “The Donkey Listener.”

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Caring for Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys

Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys have a typical lifespan of 30 to 35 years. The average height is 30 to 35 inches; weight, 250 to 400 pounds.

Donkeys get fat very easily if they are overfed. Generally, just grass hay and salt/minerals are all they need. A diet of no more than 8 to 12 percent protein is sufficient.

They need regular hoof trims at 10 to 12 week intervals depending on weather and feeding conditions. They need shelter from the wind, rain and snow, but handle the cold pretty well.

Donkeys make great therapy animals, mounts for small children, and hiking and backpacking companions. People also show them in conformation, in-hand and driving events and use them in parades and the sport of pack burro racing.

— Kim Winton, Ph.D., American Donkey Association president, owner of AssN9 Ranch

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of Hobby Farms magazine.

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