A cute miniature donkey walks in the grassy pasture in north Idaho.

Do Miniature Donkeys Make Good Pets?

When most people think of farm animals, they think of the purpose and uses behind them. No one would think to get a farm animal as a pet. But there has been a rise in suburban Americans getting farm animals as pets. One of the most popular being the miniature donkey. But do miniature donkeys make good pets? Read on to find out!

Are Miniature Donkeys Good Pets?

The mini donkey can make a fantastic pet! They are kind and gentle creatures that have a soft spot for their families. You will be surprised at how much personality a donkey can have. And you will be even more surprised when you discover that your donkey is your best friend. Having a mini donkey is a fun experience for children as well since the mini donkey is so sweet. But before you run off to buy one, there are a few details you need to know about them.

three faces of miniature donkeys in closeup, popular farm animals and pets
three faces of miniature donkeys in closeup, popular farm animals and pets

Pros Of Owning A Miniature Donkey

So what will it be like having miniature donkeys as pets? For a better understanding, look at the pros and cons of ownership. Seeing the good and bad will help you understand what a mini donkey is all about.

Intelligent

Most people wouldn’t think that a donkey could be smart. But if you ever spend time around them, you will realize just how brilliant they are. Your mini donkey will learn games and tricks. You can teach them simple commands, and they will learn phrases on their own. Some owners have even reported that their donkeys have learned the names of family members.

Loyal

Mini donkeys are surprisingly loyal. They will protect their families and do anything for them. Their loyalty is what makes them great for children. Your donkey will understand that kids should be treated with gentleness, and they gladly do it. Mini donkeys are an easy best friend to make.

Affectionate

When you look into your mini donkey’s eyes, you get a sense of warmth. You can tell they are trying to communicate love and respect. Your donkey will nibble you and nuzzle you with adoration.

Not Stubborn

Donkeys have a reputation for being stubborn. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Usually, when a donkey comes off as being stubborn, it’s more that they are thinking. They are taking a moment to think about what you want them to do and if it will have a negative side effect. And the more you push, the more they will resist since they haven’t assessed the situation. The only time a donkey is stubborn is when it comes to something that makes them uncomfortable.

Lifespan

Mini donkeys can live 30 or more years with great care. 30+ years with your best friend is a beautiful trade-off for the occasional bad day. But on the flip side, 30 years is a long commitment. And don’t forget how loyal they are. It’s not easy to pass them off to a new home.

Eat Weeds

Weeds are very high in calcium and other vital nutrients. So your donkey will gladly eat them from your pasture. As long as no pesticides are used, you can thank your donkey for a beautiful yard.

Simple Shelter

Some people might think that a mini donkey needs some extravagant shelter. But a simple loafer shed is all that they need. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and you could even make one yourself for cheap.

Elements

The donkey is known for its high tolerance to the elements. They don’t mind the heat or cold for the most part, as long as they have a shelter. You might even catch them sitting outside on a windy, snowy day without a care. Miniature donkeys know when they should go inside, it is just never when we think it should be.

Cons Of Owning A Miniature Donkey

It’s easy to come up with all the fantastic things about donkeys. But we want to help you make an informed decision. And to do that, you need to know the downside of owning a mini donkey.

Legality

The first thing that you will want to check is your city ordinances. Most neighborhoods won’t allow you to have a miniature donkey in the backyard. But if you live on the outskirts of town, there probably won’t be laws against it.

Prone To Bad Breeding

Some breeders are always striving for the smallest mini yet. And in that determination, a lot of breeders miss the point of breeding quality, healthy donkeys. When choosing a breeder, be careful of this. And watch to make sure that if you are paying mini donkey prices, that you are getting a donkey that fits the size requirements. Some breeders like to label smaller donkeys as minis when they don’t meet the weight and height requirements.

Grooming

You do have to groom your mini donkey from time to time. Things like baths, brushing, and sometimes a hair cut. But the most crucial thing for their health is trimming their hooves. And to make this already stressful task worse is that your donkey will hate it. But there are ways around this by hiring a professional farrier who will come out to your house to trim for you.

Land

If you want a mini donkey in hopes of keeping it in your backyard, you might want to check your property size. Although these donkeys are tiny, they still need a decent-sized plot to run and exercise. About an acre of land is sufficient for their needs.

Cost

The average miniature donkey costs anywhere from $500-$2,000 depending on the type and size. That alone can be a lot of money. But then you have to factor in feeding costs and vet services. Annually you can expect to spend at least $550 per donkey in food and supplements. And donkeys need annual vaccines and deworming treatments regularly. For all medical expenses, you can expect another $300-$500 per mini donkey. And that’s if they don’t get sick. Financially, donkeys can be a lot.

Pairs

To top it all off, mini donkeys are very social. So if you get one, you will likely have to get another. Without friends, your donkey will become depressed and won’t behave normally. Two mini donkeys take care of each other through play, grooming, protection, and warmth at night. So anything that you have calculated so far into owning a mini donkey multiplies it by two.

Basic Care

So do you think that keeping mini donkeys as pets is for you? Then you should read this next section about their basic care. While it’s not everything you need to know, it is somewhere to start.

Shelter And Space

A mini donkey will need to have at least an acre of land per donkey to feel comfortable. But more is better, especially with their dietary needs. If you have less than 2 acres of land, you will spend more on hay to feed your donkeys.

On your land, you will also need a shelter for sleeping and getting out of the rain. Your shelter will need to be about 12 x 12 feet space for 1-3 donkeys. On the floor, you will want a mixture of hay and wood shavings as bedding. Cleaning a small loafer shed is simple, but should be done often to keep your donkeys clean and healthy.

Grooming

Regular grooming is also a requirement of owning miniature donkeys. Donkeys love to roll in the dust and mud to keep bugs off them. So it’s only natural that they get messy sometimes. When you notice that your donkey is looking particularly dingy, it might be time for a bath. Some owners even go so far as brushing to prevent shedding. Trimming might also be needed for their manes to keep them looking sharp. Don’t be surprised, though, if they go roll in the dirt after a spa day.

The most important part of owning a mini donkey is trimming the hooves. Every 6-10 weeks, your donkey should get a trim to prevent overgrowth. Donkeys don’t always tolerate this well, but you could hire a farrier to come out and do the task for you. The average farrier will cost $45 to do the job for you.

Diet

Feeding your donkeys is an easy task if you have a large pasture. They will spend most of their time grazing on the weeds and grass that grow naturally. But during months where the grass doesn’t grow, you will need to buy hay in bulk until springtime. Mini donkeys also need a few supplemental foods like whole grains, mineral blocks, and fresh produce.

Exercise

You can’t ride a miniature donkey like a horse. But there are other ways of giving them exercise. For instance, you can take them on walks like a dog. Can you imagine your neighbor’s expressions when they see that? You can also play games and train as a form of exercise. Miniature donkeys love to play tag or play with balls and brain toys. You can even make simple toys out of tires and buckets for more entertainment.

Vet Care

Another crucial part of basic mini donkey care is the vet. Your donkey will need to see a vet regularly for checkups and vaccines. And they will need to have a deworming treatment every two months to keep healthy. A vet visit every six months could prevent common illnesses from going unnoticed. 

Some common diseases in mini donkeys are:

What Do You Think?

Miniature donkeys as pets can make for a beautiful and unexpected best friend. But, they aren’t for everyone and do require a lot of work. Only you and your family can make that decision.

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