Equus asinusMiniature Donkey


  • Equidae


  • 25-40 years


  • Length: 33-38 inches at the withers (highest part of the back at the base of the neck)
  • Weight: 200-400 lbs


  • Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia


  • Donkeys evolved in a desert climate and have been domesticated for at least 2000 years.


  • Wild: Grasses and other vegetation
  • Zoo: Timothy hay and oats


  • Females (jennets) are fertile at one year of age, but there is a risk of the mother abandoning her foal. The typical beginning breeding age is around three years of age.
  • Males (jacks) are also fertile at one year of age or earlier.
  • Gestation can last 11 ½ months to 13 months.

Special AdaptationsMiniature Donkey

  • Large ears help donkeys dissipate heat.
    • They also serve as way to communicate to other donkeys, along with the tail, body language, and verbal cues
  • Donkeys have tough, compact hooves to handle sandy and rocky terrain.

Unique Characteristics

  • Most donkeys have a distinct dark cross along their back and shoulders called a donkey’s cross.


  • They were used for grinding stones for grain, carrying water from village wells, and supplies into the mountains for Shepherds.
  • Miniature donkeys were brought to the United States in the 1920’s from the Mediterranean.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Not Evaluated
  • CITES: Not Listed
  • Although they are thriving in the United States, purebred miniature donkeys are nearly extinct in their native land due to breeding with larger breeds.


  1. CITES Appendices.  Accessed December 2012.  www.cities.org
  2. IUCN Red List.  Accessed December 2012.  www.iucnredlist.org
  3. Equus asinus (Linnaeus, 1758).  Encyclopedia of Life.  Accessed December 2012.  www.eol.org/pages/328647

Miniature Donkeys

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