So you’re fed up with the same old same old and want to try something new. Having a miniature donkey as a pet is certainly a departure. Whether or not this is one that you have fully thought out beforehand is another issue. Perhaps it’s time to devote a few moments to researching this latest inspiration.
It’s true that a miniature donkey is just that – a much smaller animal than your average representative of the species. You may be thinking of them as an even rarer and cuter version of a miniature pony.
But do you really want to bring one indoors on a full time basis. Of course you can…but should you?
The fact of the matter is that most animal and wildlife experts recommend against such a move. It’s true that donkeys love staying indoors in a barn or stable. However, this is as much indoor life as the average donkey cares to indulge in. The reasons for this is as simple as it is clear: They are outdoor animals by nature.
Donkeys are natives of open and grass-filled pasture lands. The African Savannah is the perfect place for wild examples of this species, both large and small. They most certainly prefer to be out in the open where they can run, graze, and socialize freely. Keeping them indoors is contrary to their nature and, in a word, cruel.
Should Donkeys Be Stabled at Night?
As noted above, donkeys would certainly prefer to run and play freely in the outdoors. In most cases, they also prefer to sleep in the outdoors. However, this does not mean that they will object to coming indoors on certain occasions. These will usually be cold or rainy nights when they will much prefer to find shelter in a warm, dry place.
In cases like these, you can definitely coax them to spend the night in a barn or stable. During these times, you will find them to be quite friendly and responsive animals. After all, you are doing them a favor by letting them come out of the cold or wet weather. The average donkey will be thrilled to find such a temporary shelter.
However, the operative word here is temporary. Once the cold night or the rain has passed, they will want to be out in the open again. And one thing donkeys, whether full size or small, are good at is making their wishes known. They will bray and kick against the doors until you let up and agree to let them out in the open again.
Can Donkeys Be Out in the Rain?
Unlike the Wicked Witch of the West, the average donkey will not melt upon coming into contact with water. Therefore, a bit of rain will do them no harm. But like humans, the donkey is an animal that mostly prefers to stay dry. They will therefore seek shelter in a nearby barn, stable, or other structure that lets them avoid the rain.
One of the main reasons why donkeys much prefer to avoid rain is because of rain scald. This is a condition that, while normally not fatal, can lead to a great deal of pain and suffering. Donkeys tend to have thick coats. If left out too long in the rain, it can seep very deeply into their coats, causing a great deal of irritation.
This continual itching can lead to the donkey trying to rub it away. If they can’t get dry fast enough, your donkey may end up rubbing the itchy patch raw and bloody. This can lead to sore patches with ugly scabs. If you don’t take care of it in time, it can even become infected. This is why it’s better to give them a barn or stable area.
Can Donkeys Stay Outside in Winter?
Donkeys do have very thick fur. This is usually more than enough to keep them warm during even the coldest nights. The danger that the winter season poses to donkeys isn’t so much the cold. Having said that, there are exceptions. In general, the old adage is correct: If it’s cold for you, it’s cold for them, too. Give them shelter.
Your best bet is to let them stay inside a barn, stable, or other convenient area on your property. Always keep in mind that a donkey’s coat, while thick, is not at all waterproof. This means that too much snow will eventually have the same effect as too much rain. Once it melts, it can lead to serious issues such as rain scald.
In general, although donkeys can survive very cold nights, they aren’t generally as winterproof as horses. It’s always best to let them shelter in a warm, dry place during the cold winter nights. You can give them a bed of straw and maybe throw in a few old blankets. Your donkey will appreciate the effort you make on their behalf.
Should Donkeys Be Kept Alone?
Donkeys are bright, brave, and vivacious souls. They have a great deal of warmth, gentleness, and intellect. They are far smarter animals than their general reputation would have you believe. In all of these respects, they compare very favorably with horses. You can never go wrong when you make friends with a donkey.
With all that being said, it should also be obvious that donkeys are very much social creatures. They are herd animals by nature and definitely prefer to be around others of their kind. If you don’t happen to have other donkeys, big or small, on your land, you should at least let them roam around freely to socialize with other animals.
Of course, if you have it in your budget to buy one miniature donkey, you may as well spring for two. This way, you’ll have a pair of best friends who will be happy to socialize with each other and you for many years to come.