Miniature donkeys are fluffy and adorable creatures. This hardworking little beast is native to the Mediterranean basin, mainly Sardinia. To be classified as “miniature,” the donkey must not exceed 36 inches at the withers when fully grown. These are docile animals, particularly affectionate, robust, hardworking, and intelligent. Their small size, hardiness, and friendly temperament make them fantastic companions, provided that you have the space, time, and ability to care for them properly! In general, adopting a miniature donkey can cost between $400-$800, and getting one from a breeder can cost $500–$2,500.
So, before you start dreaming of your very own mini donkey, read on to find out more about what these creatures need in terms of housing, food, healthcare, and more, as well as how much you can expect to pay for these cuties in 2023.
Bringing Home a New Miniature Donkey: One-Time Costs
The overall one-time costs of bringing home a new miniature donkey vary depending on pedigree, color, size, whether they are registered with the American Donkey & Mule Society (ADMS), sex, age, and other factors. Of course, there are also costs associated with adopting or purchasing a foal or adult from a breeder. It can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on your location.
However, it is important to take into consideration that mini donkeys need a companion to be fully happy. They are, above all, herd animals. Therefore, you might want to buy two miniature donkeys, which of course, will double your costs. If this is not possible, do not hesitate to seek advice from experienced breeders to determine what other barnyard animal would make a great friend to your donkey.
It is unlikely that you will be lucky enough to adopt a miniature donkey for free unless you know people who would like to donate theirs. You can always go around the shelters and farms in your area to see if a mini donkey is available.
Since there are so many miniature donkeys that need a good home, you might consider adopting one or two through a shelter or a rescue organization.
But keep in mind that adopting a mini donkey doesn’t come cheap, as these organizations don’t just “rescue” animals from bad situations. They spend a great deal of time with the animals in order to establish a relationship of trust. They also ensure that the animals receive veterinary care and provide for all their regular daily needs, such as food, hay, stall bedding, and deworming.
You could choose to temporarily sponsor a mini donkey before making your decision. This can be a great way to understand their care needs better while supporting a local sanctuary.
A good breeder will usually sell you a miniature donkey that has been fully vaccinated, dewormed, hoof trimmed, registered, and microchipped. They may include other supplies, like a halter and leash, which will increase the cost to purchase but reduce your supply expenses.
Female mini donkeys tend to sell for more than males, while older donkeys can cost around $500, depending on where you live.
Important: Some breeders will not sell a mini donkey to a house where there are no other donkeys, as these animals tend to bond closely with other members of their species. They can get along with other farm animals, but it’s best to ask the breeder for advice.
Initial Setup and Supplies
Before bringing your mini donkey home, you need to get the necessary equipment and accessories for your new companion. Miniature donkeys don’t need as many things as a horse does, but you still need to invest in certain important items.
Note: The enclosure will be the most expensive item on this list, but if you live on a farm, you might already have one. However, if you decide to build a shelter for your mini donkey, you must include the cost of materials in your budget. Although mini donkeys don’t need extensive shelter, they still need at least 40 square feet per animal.
Here is an overview of the supplies that you will need and the prices for each.
List of Miniature Donkey Care Supplies and Costs
|Manure and Feed Scoops:||$50|
|Feed Storage Container:||$60|
|Donkey Toys (for enrichment):||$50|
How Much Does a Miniature Donkey Cost Per Month?
The monthly costs involved for a miniature donkey can range from $120 to $250. This is based primarily on healthcare and food costs, which may vary depending on your area and your veterinarian. Other expenses include hoof maintenance, insurance, and enrichment.
Food, grooming, veterinary care, and pet insurance are the biggest monthly costs for keeping your mini donkey happy and healthy. These costs vary because you won’t need a visit from your vet every month, but you should plan accordingly to avoid unpleasant surprises.
The diet of a mini donkey consists mainly of straw, hay, and grass. You should feed your mini donkeys about 3–5 pounds of good-quality hay daily and ensure that they have access to pasture grass. You can also give them vegetables and fruits, albeit in moderation, as they tend to gain weight easily.
Grooming your miniature donkey is a great time to strengthen your bond. While brushing and grooming their mane won’t cost you more than the one-time purchase of tools like a proper brush, you should budget for hoof trimming and grooming.
Farriers charge about $50 per donkey for hoof maintenance, which typically includes trimming, cleaning, and observing the hooves for signs of disease and lameness. This care is essential and should be done about six times a year.
Medications and Vet Visits
Miniature donkeys are hardy creatures, but they still need routine veterinary care. Since your vet will likely come to your farm, you should expect a fee for a home visit.
Mini donkeys will need health checkups, annual vaccinations, and dewormings every 3 months. The same annual vaccinations as for other equines are recommended, such as vaccines against tetanus, influenza, rabies, encephalitis viruses, and West Nile virus. Other expenses include dental care every 2 to 3 years.
Depending on where you live, it can cost around $220 per year per mini donkey to cover shots, vaccines, and the house call.
It’s not easy to find a pet insurance company that covers accident, illness, and preventative care costs for a miniature donkey. Indeed, most do not include these animals in their insurance policies. You can, however, opt for a pet insurance company that covers horses and other farm animals. A good example is Pet Assure, which offers a plan that covers all in-house medical services and even pre-existing conditions.
Once you’ve acquired all the basic supplies for your mini donkey, you won’t need to spend much per month on environmental maintenance. They do require good bedding made of straw, which needs to be replaced monthly, along with other accessories, such as salt-and-mineral blocks and fly spray to keep bugs away.
Miniature donkeys love to play and need enrichment to thrive. However, you don’t need to spend a fortune to entertain your mini, as they can have hours of fun with a simple ball, a hoop, and even old rubber tires. For example, a donkey ball toy will only cost around $40, but you may need to replace it if your pet plays hard with it!
Total Monthly Cost of Owning a Miniature Donkey
Taking all factors into consideration, the total monthly cost of owning a mini donkey is a few hundred dollars. However, this amount will vary throughout the year because your donkey will not need to have its hooves trimmed or receive a visit from the veterinarian every month.
Additional Costs to Factor In
An additional cost to think about is transporting your miniature donkey. Remember that these “little” beasts can still weigh up to 450 pounds! So, if you don’t have a donkey trailer, you may have to pay someone to transport your mini donkey to your house. If it’s a long distance, expect to pay several hundred dollars for the trip.
You should also have an amount allocated for emergency veterinary care, as this can easily add up to a few thousand dollars, depending on the situation.
Owning a Miniature Donkey On a Budget
If you want to own a miniature donkey but are on a budget, choose adoption, as it can save you a few hundred dollars. You can also save money if you already have an enclosure that can accommodate your animals and all the necessary equipment.
However, keep in mind that your pet will need a companion, preferably another donkey friend. Therefore, if your budget is very tight, you might want to consider other options, such as sponsoring a miniature donkey at a shelter for a while.
Saving Money on Miniature Donkey Care
Without skimping on the cost of veterinary care and food, you can save a few bucks on enrichment for your mini donkey; for example, give them an old tire to play with instead of expensive toys.
It’s also worth getting pet insurance that covers farm animals, as health costs are often what drive up the monthly bill.
Miniature donkeys are wonderful companions and make excellent pets. Your little friend that’s always by your side will serve as a source of comfort and laughter. However, they don’t come with a cheap price tag.
The good news is that while the cost of your mini donkey can run into thousands of dollars, it’s mostly one-time expenses, like buying the animal and building its enclosure. Also, most of the supplies that you pick up should last you a long time.
That said, before you commit to buying a miniature donkey, you need to do a bit of research and find a good and responsible breeder. If you decide to bring one home (though preferably two!), make sure to get all the necessary supplies first, so your new friend can live a healthy and happy life by your side.
Featured Image Credit: Melody Mellinger, Shutterstock